The hunter felt his heart rate increase and the rush of blood to his face. He had only caught a glimpse through the grass, but he was sure it was the trophy he was after. After what seemed like hours it finally reappeared, this time closer, and he knew for sure that he would be successful. Slowly he settled in behind the scope and attempted to line up the crosshairs, but there was too much grass in the way preventing a clean shot. Closer and closer it came, as his heart rate increased faster and faster. And then it happened, as fast as it had first appeared, it had suddenly disappeared.
The hunter sat confused wondering what had happened and how he could not have been successful. Then he felt the slight breeze on the back of his neck and realized that the wind had swirled and betrayed him. Next time he thought as he chuckled to himself shaking his head, next time.
Some would question how he could laugh at such a close encounter without being successful, but this hunter did not have time to dwell on the lost opportunity because another set was only minutes away and the trophy he was after could appear there as well. A cold front had settled on the region and they were responding well to the call so the hunter quickly gathered his gear and started towards his vehicle. If you thought you could only get this kind of heart pounding excitement in the deer or turkey woods, then you have never successfully tried predator/varmint hunting.
Predator or varmint hunting is commonly defined as the practice of hunting vermin or predators, as a means of controlling the population of a pest. The most common of these pests include coyotes and bobcats, but it can also include raccoons, crows, moles, foxes and prairie dogs where present.
While there is a never ending line of clothing and equipment marketed specifically for this type of hunting, most hunters already have the basic necessities needed to get started. Two of the necessities include full camouflage, including on the face and hands, and depending on your setup and shot distance, a rifle or shotgun.
The other necessity for this type of hunting is a call. There are multiple different makes and models of calls available with the most common emitting a prey animal in distress sound. Electronic calls that produce a wide library of sounds including distress calls as well as predator and vermin vocalizations are the most popular option, but there are multiple easy to blow mouth calls available to those hunters who like the extra challenge or are on a budget.
When setting up to do a calling sequence, choose an area that offers a good field of view and always use great caution to approach the call area as quietly as possible. Use available vegetation to hide your entry route making sure that you do not skyline yourself and always be aware of the wind direction making sure that from the vehicle to after the calling sequence your wind can never be blown into the call area. It is also a good idea to wait for a little while after getting setup before beginning a call sequence and as with most types of hunting keep as still as possible only moving slowly and deliberately when you do have to move.
Calling sequences will vary from hunter to hunter with some preferring to call for a couple of minutes before pausing and then repeating, while others prefer to call nonstop. Different calling techniques and sequences can work on different days, so do not be afraid to vary your approach if something is not working. Another step to help with the calling sequence is the addition of a decoy. Decoys are helpful as they will give any responding animal something to focus on other than the hunter, which could possibly allow the hunter to move into position for a shot opportunity if required.
Response time can and will vary depending on activity level, weather, terrain and many other factors. Most hunters prefer to call during the first and last few hours of daylight with response times varying from a few seconds after starting to call to minutes after starting to call. As with calling sequences, the amount of time spent at each set will vary by hunter. Some will not set longer than 15 minutes, while it is not uncommon for other hunters to set a minimum of 1 hour at each set.
While hunting solo can be successful, most serious predator/varmint hunters hunt with a partner. There are multiple reasons this can be beneficial such as one hunter using a rifle and taking advantage of longer shots while the other is responsible for the closer shots and is armed with a shotgun. It is also easier for 2 hunters to cover a larger section of ground, and it is not uncommon for more than one opportunity to present itself at the same time. One last but often overlooked advantage of hunting with a partner is it allows another first hand account to help relive all the memories made.
Besides from helping to control the population, there are many other benefits to predator/varmint hunting. Many of the target species fur can be sold with the right license, providing some financial return on any speciality equipment one might purchase. There are also multiple predator hunting contests in the area which provide a source of competition, an opportunity to meet fellow sportsmen, as well as another possible return on investment. By helping to control the population you can also help to stop the possible spread of disease as well as to help protect livestock and pets. You will also be helping the population of the many prey species that are hunted by these predators, but the best benefit might be that it is a challenge and it is just plain fun.