Cold Weather Tips for Predator Hunting

Cold Weather Tips for Predator Hunting

Whitetail seasons have ended throughout most of the country and hunters are amid a few stages of the post-season. One is they’re tired and don’t mind that it’s over. Another is they’re still itching for some deer hunting, and may be traveling to another state for one last hurrah.

A third possibility is they’ve switched gears to focus on hunting predators for a few months. Coyotes, especially, but also perhaps foxes, feral hogs or whatever else is legal. Predators provide great opportunities to test your skills at choosing setups based on the wind and cover, calling, spotting and then making the shot. Wide open Midwest fields and western deserts can be cold and windy, but you can get some great action in just a few hours.

Feral hogs also provide a myriad of opportunities, mostly in the Southeast and Southwest. Given the right situation, you can stalk hunt them in fields, moving downwind to get close for a shot with rifle, handgun, bow, or crossbow. I’ve done all of these, at one time or another, and it’s incredibly fun.

If you’re keen on pursuing coyotes or hogs this winter, use these tips to maximize the trip.

KNOW THE WEATHER FORECAST 

Several years ago, in Oklahoma, our crew was trying a new predator call from Primos and had Federal 224 Valkryie in hand. We were stoked to be at Rut 'n Strut for a few days, excited at what was going to unfold in the beautifully stark landscape. Then, overnight, even though we knew the weather would be cold, things changed. We woke to ice on everything that could hold water, thanks to freezing fog. Trees and barbed-wire fences sparkled. We dressed accordingly and lit out, but the shift in weather made everything weird. We heard only a few coyotes, and the hogs must’ve crawled into a cave with a fire to stay warm.

Even though we knew the forecast, it changed. Nothing we could do about that. When you’re going hunting, definitely pay attention to the forecast, though. Wind direction is critical. In winter, it’s especially important to keep up with it so you can dress accordingly.

USE CAMERA INFORMATION

For the last few years, I’ve monitored whitetails, coyotes and other wildlife on a tract where I hunt and mess around. It’s a mix of hardwoods and pasture, with a couple of creeks and big pond. The SPYPOINT FLEX cameras have been great for providing images throughout the day. The variety is cool, to be honest. I have images of deer, turkey, bobcats, coyotes, river otters, raccoons, possums, armadillos, stray dogs, trespassers (!!!), beavers, blue herons, weasels, gray and fox squirrels, and skunks. One of the skunks was jet black, with no stripes. That was unusual.

 

 

The coyotes and bobcats use the same travel routes as the deer. Animals, like humans, often take the path of least resistance. When you’re getting ready to pursue coyotes, hogs, or other predators, take advantage of your cameras to pattern them. Cameras aren’t just for whitetails or turkeys. Install new batteries, move them to new locations, monitor, and then hunt accordingly. You’ll likely put more critters on the ground with them.

DON'T PUSH YOUR LUCK

Stay home if the wind or weather isn’t right, or you’re running late. That’s just simple, smart advice for any hunting situation. “Oh, we were late because of …” and the next thing that happens is a busted setup, or you missed the window, or it’s just not working out and became a wasted day.

Overslept? Wind shifted overnight or isn’t right for a setup? It’s raining or snowing like hell and you’re just not into it? Stay home. A day or two isn’t going to be a loss. No big deal. And don’t stick around if it’s pouring rain or you're miserable in the field. Why do that? Just sack up and head home. Hunting should be fun, not a slog.

Instead, look ahead to when the rain or snow will end. That’s when it might be best to be in your hidey hole, because coyotes and other animals will be moving. Plan accordingly and be ready when the nasty weather ends.

 

 

GEAR UP CORRECTLY

Making mistakes hunting predators often results in an empty game bag. Don’t do this, especially in winter when it’s cold and maybe snowy or rainy. Have all of your gear wired tight, right from the jump.

Check your scope mounts and everything on your rifle. Make sure you have the correct ammo. Prepare your field bag, and make sure the chair you’re using (if so) doesn’t squeak. If you’re shooting a bow or crossbow, check all the cables, sights, arrows and broadheads. Make sure the quiver or other accessories are locked tightly.

If you’re out in winter, always take a field kit with a loud safety whistle, space blanket and materials to start a fire. Those do not take up much space and can be a lifesaver, should you encounter a challenging situation. You’re not bulletproof. Be smart when you’re out having fun chasing predators this season.

 

Article and photos by Alan Clemons

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