No Off Season: Fill the Bowhunting Void with Predator Hunting
Predators offer hunting opportunities when few other seasons are open. They also offer liberal bag limits, if any at all, and hunting them can help control their populations.
Many predators can be hunted, including bears, alligators and even cougars. However, predator hunting usually targets smaller animals, such as fox, coyotes and bobcats. Keeping their populations in check is an important conservation role that hunters play. Predators can also be a nuisance around livestock, and they often target dogs and cats, so ranchers, farmers and pet owners usually encourage hunters.
The Top Dog
For most predator hunters, coyotes are the leaders of the pack. Their populations are soaring and their range expanding, thanks to its keen ability to adapt. Coyotes can be found from downtown Los Angeles to the wilds of northern Maine. Coyotes can be hunted year-round in many states, and often without a bag limit. In contrast, fox and bobcat harvests are tightly regulated. Before heading out to hunt predators, be sure to check all regulations and bag limits.
Calling All Predators
Predators can be hunted with hounds in some areas, but calling is the most popular method. Hunters use mouth-operated calls or electronic calls (where legal) to coax predators into range. The most common sounds mimic mating calls or prey in distress. Calls make for exciting hunts. Coyotes often race to calling setups, making for fast-paced hunts; while fox and bobcats generally sneak in, testing a hunter’s stealth and patience.
Using a Bow
Most predator hunting is done with centerfire rifles in wide-open country like large farm fields or the Great Plains of the central United States. However, coyotes can be hunted throughout the country where cover is more dense, and long shots unlikely. That’s where archery becomes a fun option.
The Bowhunting Challenge
Predators are smart and wary, so hunting them is challenging no matter the weapon used. When they check out your calls and come into range, don’t expect them to linger. Predators are almost always on the go, and moving shots are the norm. One of the biggest challenges for bowhunters is getting to full draw without being seen. That’s where decoys come into play. A decoy attracts the predator’s attention, giving bowhunters a bit more freedom to draw.
Another important consideration is the broadhead you’ll use. Because predators are constantly moving, shot placement can be challenging. Therefore, use a broadhead with a large cutting diameter to expand its wound channel. Your local archery shop can offer expert advice and gear tips for predator bowhunting.
The Fringe Benefits
Bowhunting predators offers other challenges and satisfactions, such as camaraderie. Predator hunting is always more fun with a small group, and increases your odds of success by helping you cover more ground. It also lets you hunt in winter, when conditions for predator hunting are generally best. Further, it’s an excellent way to shake cabin fever. And when seeking places to hunt predators, ask nearby farmers and landowners. Most folks will let you hunt predators, and the invitation just might lead to invitations to hunt other game.
Predator hunting might not be the first thing you consider when bowhunting, but it’s certainly worth your time and effort.
Interested in learning more about predator hunting with a bow? Visit a local archery store to talk to an expert, get some instruction, and meet likeminded people.