Waterfowl hunters, dove hunters, turkey hunters and even big game hunters know the value of strategically placed decoys. They can lure in game from long distances, provide confidence and take attention away from you with a focus on the faux critter. Predator hunters have been using decoys more and more as options become readily available and user friendly. Companies like Mojo and Montana Decoys have provided hunters with both easy-to-use and animated models. Because I try to cover all sorts of hunting for writing fodder I have had some unique opportunities to see the effects of all sorts of decoys on predators. Just because you're immersed in another style of hunting doesn't mean a coyote won't show up without warning. Here are several surprises I've had over the years.
1. Several years ago it was a particularly slow day in the goose spread. The sun was shining, but as usual it was cold and the layer of snow on the ground didn't help the frigid temperature. As we finished trying to get a small flock of Canada geese to swing our way I noticed movement in the decoy spread. Was it someone's lost retriever? No, it was a coyote stalking the plastic yard decorations. My partner begged to drop the coyote so I let him give the song dog a wakeup call with a battering of steel BBs.
2. While guiding a Pennsylvania hunter for a Western Merriam's we found ourselves peeking over a bank and trying to lure in a trying tom with a foam hen decoy. The tom would just strut back and forth out of shotgun range providing both the hunter and I with frustration in the beautiful sight. Out of nowhere a coyote slunk into the scene eyeing the hen and ignoring the big tom behind it. I nudged the hunter and pointed to the coyote. He whispered back that he had never shot a coyote and begged me to let him take it. How could I resist? The tom was stubborn and the coyote was literally feet away from his shotgun barrel. Boom!
3. Just the other day I was sitting in my treestand and rattling for whitetails. Nothing responded so I hung up my horns and scanned the brush for any movement. I saw a flash of gray and it materialized into a young coyote eyeing my buck decoy. Did the young coyote have enough gumption to take on a supposed adult deer? It started toward the decoy so I readied my Mathews bow. Suddenly common sense must have kicked in and the coyote paused, and then turned in a slow retreat. Seeing my window closing I barked and the coyote paused just long enough for my Carbon Express arrow to land a Montec G5 to the future fawn eater.
If you want to spice up your predator hunting this fur season, give decoys a try. Also, if you're pursuing other game keep your predator loads handy regardless of what you're hunting. You never know when a coyote might slink into your decoy spread.