By Josh Boyd
Predator hunting is often a game of ups and downs that tests the patience of even the most steadfast of hunters. On one particular occasion, it might appear as if every stand you make yields results in a matter of minutes, only to be left feeling as if you can do nothing right the very next time you go afield.
But how could this be? Why is success when predator hunting often so fickle, and how can one become more consistent in taking coyotes or bobcats no matter the day or location?
Tad Brown of Hunter Specialties knows predator hunting and is no stranger to the challenges that it brings, yet he has found success regularly while chasing coyotes and bobcats across a swath of the nation’s landscape.
Brown not only takes predators with pronounced consistency, but he is forthcoming in offering advice to those that seek to become more proficient in doing so. Among this advice, is to focus as much on what to avoid, as your calling, and other particulars of the hunt.
According to Brown, the following mistakes often cost hunters across the country countless opportunities at coyotes and bobcats yearly.
Not Being Stealthy During Setup
It is no secret that to hunt coyotes and bobcats, among other predator species, you must first reach the location in which you intend to set up. However, what is often overlooked is the stealth that must be exercised when reaching these locations while remaining undetected.
The vast majority of hunters today are well aware of the importance of the avoidance of alerting game species, such as deer and turkey, to their presence as they head afield. Unfortunately, this same level of precaution is not always exercised when predator hunting, and it can often cost an individual what would have otherwise been a quality set up.
“They silhouette themselves walking in,” Tad Brown said when describing how hunters can often unknowingly end their hunt before it begins. “To me, it is really important to try to slip in somewhere,” Brown continued.
“Even if you have to break a ridge, get some cover. Some hay bales or a treeline, anything can be used to break your outline,” continued Brown. “Not all of them are going to see you, but if you don’t try to hide yourself, you are going to be seen,” Brown said in conclusion.
Not Playing The Wind
Predators often rely upon their sense of smell to locate their prey. However, for a hunter, this keen sense of smell can end a hunt in rapid succession if you have not taken a proper level of precaution to minimize the dispersal of your human odor.
Though many hunters have become well adept at practicing quality scent control as it pertains to deer hunting, far fewer go to the same lengths to go undetected when predator hunting.
When predator hunting, the wind can either be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending upon the level of respect it is given in regards to how it can impact a hunt. Reflecting upon the value of hunting with a favorable wind, as well as the aforementioned tactic of going unseen, Brown said, “If a coyote sees you, or he smells you, it’s almost 100 percent that he’s not going to respond.”
However, Tad Brown’s attentiveness to the wind does not end with coyote hunting. He has found watching the wind when hunting bobcats to be of immense value and feels that many hunters underestimate a bobcat’s sense of smell.
“Guys don’t respect their nose,” Brown stated regarding a bobcat’s sense of smell. “I’ve got housecats, and one cat, in particular, has a sense of smell that is off the charts. He has opened my eyes to bobcat calling, because I used to not worry about the wind when calling bobcats. When I watch this cat, it makes me think that bobcats smell better than most think,” said Brown.
Spending Too Much Time at A Set
For years, there has been much talk about how long a hunter should spend at each set while predator hunting. While there is no steadfast rule of thumb that governs what is right and what is wrong in this regard, many have long stated that you should never abandon a set before the thirty-minute mark, with even longer durations suggested when a bobcat encounter is likely.
Tad Brown doesn’t necessarily subscribe to this school of thought, instead opting for shorter sits, which in turn allow him to cover more ground and better his odds. “I used to wait quite a while, even up to thirty minutes or so. Anymore, fifteen minutes is plenty of time for coyotes. In fact, I typically kill 85 percent of the coyotes I kill in the first five minutes,” said Brown.
“The same with bobcats. Bobcats notoriously come in slow and take thirty minutes. I’ve been told to wait an hour if I wanted to kill a cat. So I used to sit in a cat area and wait that long. Well, I found out that if I go into an area that is good, and watch the wind, most of the cats that I am killing come within minutes,” Brown explained.
Becoming A More Efficient Predator Hunter
We must keep in mind that when predator hunting, we are pursuing species that, in their minds, are at the top of the food chain. To beat them at their own game, it is of immense value to be the better predator on any given day that we go afield. By avoiding some of the pitfalls that we as predator hunters commonly fall into, you can take your hunt to the next level, and bring more coyotes and bobcats to the call.