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Finding Places to Call.......

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One of the questions that comes up often is: "How do I find places to call predators?" This is an even bigger problem here in Texas with almost no public land. I thought I would post an article I wrote for "The Trapper & Predator Caller" magazine a few years ago. I hope this helps some of you. Please jump in with your ideas so we can all benefit from your experience.

 

Coyote Calling-So…Where Can I Hunt?

by Bob Connell (copyright-2001)

 

Are you finding yourself all dressed up with nowhere to hunt? One of the most frequent questions I hear from newer predator hunters is: “Where can I find someplace to hunt?” When I was growing up in Colorado, there was plenty of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and State lands to romp around on with my trusty .22 in search of the next rabbit. In many western states, there is still excellent access to Federal and State lands on which to hunt predators. In many states however, this is not the case. Years ago, you could also hunt on most private land that wasn’t posted (we were taught, however, to always ask permission first). Today, things have changed considerably.

 

With our changed society, we can’t leave our doors unlocked anymore, and we don’t let “just anybody” have access to our land for hunting. The big “L” word (liability) alone, is enough to get some landowners to close access to their farms and ranches. So what do you do? Very simply, you ask! BEFORE you ask however, you need to do some scouting, just like you would for any hunt.

 

First, I recommend making-up a simple “Predator or Varmint Hunting” business card and flyer. Farmers and ranchers are more apt to grant permission to hunt their land to someone who appears to be professional and conscientious.

 

Next, you need to scout the areas you wish to hunt. By this, I mean go to a town in an area where you know there are a lot of coyotes (or whatever you want to hunt) and start scouting. This can mean going to the County Court House and checking the land plats to see who the larger landowners are (the County Clerk’s office will show you how). Some counties have plat books they will sell you that have the ownership information on the maps. You can then look up some phone numbers and call the owners. Tell them that you are a predator hunter, that you are looking for access to new land to hunt coyotes on, and that you would like to set-up a time to meet with them to see about helping them thin their coyotes out a bit. My hunting partner, Mark, did this in one of the northern counties in Oklahoma. As a result of his legwork, we now have an additional 25,000 acres to call coyotes on.

 

If you don’t want to go the Court House route, just stop in at the local “Stop & Saves” and tell them you are a predator hunter. Ask them who they think you should contact about getting permission to hunt some coyotes. People like getting asked for their advice. Many times, they can rattle a name and phone number off the top of their heads for you. I tried this in Cleveland, Oklahoma and got permission right away to hunt a 1,200-acre ranch. The owner of this ranch told one of his buddies with a 15,000-acre ranch. That stop for a soda netted me 16,200 acres of new hunting grounds.

 

Another great scouting technique is finding out where “the boys club” meets for coffee each morning. Every small town has at least one spot where the local farmers and ranchers meet in the morning to have coffee and give each other a hard time. Once you have found out where it is, just show up and ask if you can join them. I did this on a trip to New Mexico last year, and ended up with unlimited access to 94,000 acres to hunt on, and an invitation to come back anytime.

 

Other places you can stop in and do some scouting , are at the local feed store and farm implement dealer (John Deere, etc.). They can generally provide some good leads for you.

 

Once you have decided which approach you are going to use, be sure to use some common sense. Don’t go bouncing around in full camo. Even in the country, unless it is the opening day of deer season, this tends to put people on guard until they get to know you. The media has unfortunately done a great job of equating camouflage with “kooks”. It ain’t right, but that’s the way it is! You don’t need to dress up, but you should be clean and well groomed. You are trying to convey the image of a courteous, safe, and responsible hunter. You want them to see someone that they would ask to hunt their land, not just someone they would “grant permission to”, or worse yet, someone they would hide their family from!

 

When you finally get the chance to visit with them, just be yourself. Tell them a little about yourself and your experience. Tell them how you hunt and what calls you use. You might mention that you know what cattle look like, how to close gates, and what backdrop means. Most ranchers and farmers today have had at least one bad experience with a hunter on their land.

 

Once you have a few ranches set-up, you can start networking with the owners. Always ask how they want you to handle the animals you take. Make sure you call the day before you hunt as a courtesy to let them know you are coming. On your way out, or after you get home, give the rancher a report on your hunt. If you notice a broken gate, a downed fence, or other problem, be sure and tell them. After you have hunted a ranch for period of time, and the owner has gotten to know you, ask them which of their friends and neighbors they think you should contact about helping them thin out their coyotes. Most of the time, they will make the calls for you!

 

None of this is rocket science. It is mostly, plain old-fashioned common sense. People like to deal with people that they feel they can trust. If your approach to people is courteous, polite, and straightforward, you will be successful and end up with access to more land than you can hunt. It does require some effort on your part. You can’t just sit home and wait for the phone to ring. Who knows, you may even be invited back to take a few doves, a turkey, or even a deer? You will find that practicing the “Golden Rule” goes a long way helping you find places to hunt. And best of all, you will have made some new friends!

 

So, get out your coffee cup, and start scouting! Good Hunting!

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