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In the later part of the 1900s predator hunting became very popular. The craze swept the nation, and it was in no small part due to the writings of one man from Tennessee. Bill Bynum grew up a hunter, and after his time in the military, he began to specialize in hunting raccoons, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. But, unlike a lot of predator hunters of the time, Bynum didn’t use dogs, he used calls, and he literally wrote the book on the subject. He was also the editor of two magazines solely devoted to predator hunting. I was fortunate enough to hunt with Bill on several occasions and I learned a lot from him. Unfortunately, Bynum is no longer writing, but here are some of the basics he taught me over the years.

Table of Contents

  • Predator Hunting Takes Patience
  • Where and How to Hunt Predators
  • Predator Hunting Gear
  • Calling Tactics for Predator Hunting 

Predator Hunting Takes Patience

One of the first things Bynum taught me about predator hunting is that you need patience and perseverance. When you make a set to call, it may take 30 minutes for a predator to come in. And even in country that’s rife with predators, if you get one to come to your call in one out of five sets, you’re doing pretty well. 

Two men with rifles standing next to dead coyotes.
Some of the best predator hunting occurs during cold weather. Dress appropriately. Richard Mann

These odds might seem a bit low, but sometimes without knowing, you spook a predator when you’re moving in and setting up. I’ve been predator hunting and had a response in five out of five sets, but I’ve also hunted good predator country and struck out, 10 out of 10 times. The bottom line is, you need to keep after it if you want to be successful. 

Where and How to Hunt Predators

Predator hunting is best in the late evening or early morning. East and west I’ve had the best success just after daylight. Also, if you want to hunt coyotes in the forested hills of the east, you’ll have much better success at night—eastern coyotes are different than those out west.

Like with other game, when there’s a weather front moving in or out, you’ll typically see more predator activity. After a snow is a great time to hunt for predators because you’re able to see more, and all the tracks are fresh. When you make your set, try to find a location with some elevation to help you see better and use something like bushes, a deadfall, or rocks, as a backdrop. 

Predator Hunting Gear

Depending on regulations, you can predator hunt with rifles, shotguns, handguns, and even archery equipment, but rifles and shotguns are by far the most popular. Some predator hunters use rimfire rifles, but a centerfire like a 223 Remington with fragmenting bullets offers much more reach and quicker kills. An accurate bolt-action rifle outfitted with a moderate-powered riflescope of about 3-9X is ideal for predator hunting, but some hunters prefer a semi-automatic like an AR15. An AR can make follow-up shots, or dealing with multiple predators at once, easier. Shotguns limit reach but are handy in thick cover, especially when the action is fast, and shot sizes of #5 are larger are best.

Shotgun with a dead coyote.
Shotguns have limited reach but work well for predators. Richard Mann

Calling is the key to predator hunting. You’ll need to learn how to work a mouth call, which is the only call I ever saw Bynum use, or you’ll need a good electronic call. Some think hand calls sound more realistic but modern electric calls have been perfected to the point that they’re simply amazing. They’ll even allow you to program a series of sounds and immediately select a different sound if necessary. I have a FoxPro electronic call I’ve used with great success across North American and in Africa. It was expensive but it works, and it works even better when combined with a moving decoy. You can also run and electric call with almost no movement and even more volume. However, instead of relying on just one type of call, it’s a good idea to learn to use both. Batteries die and you can get a hand call into action quickly.

There are really two types of predator hunting/calling. One is done during daylight hours and the other at night. Without question, calling predators at night, with either a red or amber light, or better yet with thermal equipment, is the most effective. A quality predator hunting light is not very expensive but thermal viewers and weapon sights will cost more than all your other gear combined—maybe even more than your pickup truck. I think daylight hunting is the most fun, it requires less gear, and it’s the only kind of predator hunting I ever did with Bynum. Either way, you need to check your local regulations. For example, coyote hunting in West Virginia is open year-round, but during closed small-game seasons, it’s only legal in open fields. You can also hunt them at night, but only from September to January.

Predator hunting call on the ground.
An electronic call is hard to beat for predator hunting. Especially one with an integral, moving decoy. Richard Mann

Calling Tactics

Another thing I learned about predator hunting from Bynum might seem overly simple and painfully obvious. It was that you had to hunt where the predators are. This is not all that difficult because predators are widespread throughout the United Sates, but not all predators are in all locations. For example, Bill and I once hunted in Texas and the only coyote track we saw was damn near petrified. 

Man holding a coyote and a rifle.
You’ll find the best predator hunting success in the morning or evening. Richard Mann

We did kill a bobcat, but we later discovered a rancher had recently poisoned the coyotes. You need to look for sign—fresh tracks and scat—and determine which predators are in your area. Coyotes are vocal in the evenings; Bynum liked to find out where they were by using a locator call when scouting. The information you get while scouting will determine the types of sets you make and the types of calls to use.

Read Next: The 7 Best Coyote Rifles for Any Budget

To be successful at predator hunting you also need to play the wind. Maybe more so than with any other species. This is partly because, when you’re calling, you’re telling the predator exactly where you’re at, so they come in expecting to see and smell certain things. Predators will also often circle or work to get downwind of the call before they come in. And when they do, their eyes and nose are on high alert. Because of this, it’s good to utilize camouflage and some concealment and to make sure your set is where you can see a good distance so you can spot them before they see or smell you.