By Pete Rogers
Predator hunting is a popular sport across the country. The focus is on coyotes, but where it is legal, other predators are also fun to hunt.
In much of the nation, the red fox and grey fox are abundant and readily respond to calls, as do bobcats.
When targeting predators, it’s important to check your local game laws as they vary widely from state to state on methods, weapon choices, and locations where predators can be hunted.
Spring is an optimum time for predator hunting. There are a lot of things going on in the predator world.
First, early spring finds the pelts in their prime condition, making them a commodity and bonus if you are able to sell the fur.
Secondly, breeding and denning is strong this time of year. Females are having litters and desperately searching for food for themselves and their new pups. This makes them especially susceptible to calls.
Let’s look at some tactics that can help you put more fur in your bag this spring. With all the different species, we’ll explore them individually and see how we can get more responses to our calls.
Red Fox: The red is one of God’s most beautiful animals. His sleek red coat and distinctive black boots and full tail make him a truly handsome fellow. Pushing the scales at barely 8-10 pounds, he is not a large critter.
Small caliber rifles are more than enough, with magnum rimfires being a solid choice. Personal favorites for reds are the .22 WMR with a 35 grain ballistic tip bullet, along with a shotgun loaded with some heavy loads of # 6 shot.
Reds are usually found in more open terrain. Farm fields and their edges are the best locales for reds. Any small animal sound works well – voles, field mice, and the standard cottontail – all work to excite the red into committing. If you are near farm country, try the distressed chicken sounds.
Grey Fox: The grey fox, on the other hand, is more of a woods fellow, preferring open forests to wide open fields. He prefers to hunt in the dark of the trees. Setting up for greys is often in, or near, woodlots.
Similar calibers and styles of calling for reds work for greys. Location is more of the difference with greys over reds. Riparian zones along large rivers are favorite locations for calling greys.
Bobcats: They tend to be shy animals and while they do respond, they do so slowly, often sneaking in from a distance and just watching. Decoys really help with bobcats since they are primarily a sight hunter. A wing from a bird dangling from a branch is enough to entice them. Purring kittens and females in heat are always great calls as well.
Bobcats are a lot bigger than foxes. Good cats are similar in size to coyotes, so similar calibers are necessary—.223, .22-250, .204 are all favorite calibers. Bullet weights in the 55 grain are sufficient.
Coyotes: These predators seem to get all the press due to their expanding range. They are wily and fun to hunt for sure. Many coyotes have heard every rabbit call known to man and beast. So steer clear of those, and your odds are better at convincing them. A pup in distress is a great call in the spring. So are howls that reveal their level of aggression.
Just like the bobcats, similar calibers are needed with the addition of any 6mm, and the popular 6.5 Creedmore is a new favorite due to its long-range capabilities.
Whichever species you target, predator hunting in the spring is a lot of fun and excitement.
Calling animals into your effective range is exciting any time of year, but the spring woods are some of the finest.