Can using a decoy while predator hunting help call in more predators? It is a question that many hunters have when trying to gain an advantage against weary coyotes or a stealthy bobcat.
Using a decoy while trying to call in coyotes is a tactic that has been debated amongst veteran hunters for years. Some hunters say that using a decoy can cause weary coyotes who have been around the block a time or two to stall, and it could prevent them from coming into shooting range. Other hunters swear by the use of decoys due to their increased success when a decoy is in place.
Recently, when talking to a longtime predator hunter and friend of mine about the pros and cons of decoys, he helped me determine that decoys only work if used correctly and at the right time. After discussing the facts of using decoys, my friend explained that he never made a calling stand without having some type of decoy with him. Even though he always had a decoy, he confessed that he only used it on approximately ten percent of his calling stands. However, it made the difference in bringing an educated coyote into shooting range when he put it to use.
The use of a decoy for calling predators does, in fact, work. It comes down to knowing when and where to use them to their maximum potential and effectiveness. By using the following tips, predator hunters can achieve tremendous success when using decoys.
The sole purpose of almost every decoy designed for hunting is to attract the animal into close range and keep the attention off of the hunter; it is no different when using predator decoys.
Hunting in a large, open area is one of the most likely situations for a predator hunter to use a decoy. Open terrains are where decoys shine, such as in the western part of the United States and desert-like areas. When a coyote responds to a call, he reacts because he hears something he can eat. To create realism and assure that the sounds are authentic, hunters can place a motion-decoy to help attract attention; when a coyote sees a movement resembling a rabbit or bird, the urgency to get to decoy increases. The extra attention allows the hunter to get into position and make the shot. If too much time and space are between the coyote and the call, occasionally, the coyote will lose interest or become cautious of the open surroundings and their safety.
Like spring turkeys or bugling elk in September, calling an animal can become complicated if the hunting pressure is high. When an animal hears multiple calling efforts, has been spooked more than once, or has encountered human scent, it can cause them to be suspicious of a hunter's efforts. Often, hunters face this scenario when hunting on public land where more hunters are likely to be. Calling coyotes that have encountered other hunters multiple times makes them call shy. Often, hunters have stated that they have had coyotes who come within eyesight yet stay distanced enough to observe the surroundings before committing any closer. Having the movement of a decoy near the caller gives coyotes the assurance and the urgency to approach closer to investigate.
From late January to mid-March, most coyotes across the United States are in their annual breeding season. During this period, coyotes are looking for a mate and become even more territorial than they already are. When calling coyotes during the breeding season, hunters claim it becomes more challenging because the coyotes focus on breeding instead of eating. When their attention becomes harder to grab, hunters can use coyote vocals in their calling sequence to help attract the breeding aspect of their curiosity instead.
Another way to create jealously and trigger the territorial instinct is by using an actual coyote decoy in the calling setup. When using a decoy that looks like a coyote, the hunter is more likely to grab the attention of distant coyotes who may not want to leave their mate. When a male coyote sees another male in his area, he becomes angry and jealous and wants to fight—the increased aggression results in coyotes coming into shooting range more often.
Using decoys to help call coyotes into close range is an excellent tactic if done correctly and during the right situation. However, if there is a time when I would suggest using a decoy on every calling stand, it is when targeting bobcats.
A bobcat is like a domestic cat when it involves their fantastic eyesight. I have always compared a bobcat's eyesight with a domestic cat. For example, when a cat is lazing around or walking by, try to wiggle your fingers quickly and notice how fast the cat will spot the movement. The same goes when trying to lure a bobcat into shooting range. A bobcat also likes high-pitched bird sounds. The busier the sounds and the more movement, the more a bobcat will be attracted. To keep a bobcat focused and lure them closer to the sound, you must have a fast decoy that produces a lot of movement. Most hunters have experienced hunting a bobcat without a decoy, in which the bobcat does not detect movement, which results in it sitting down instead of coming into shooting range.
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