Outfitted Predator Hunts

Pursuing predators with the aid of an outfitter can make you a better, more confident, hunter.

Outfitted Predator Hunts

Dog Soldier TV's Steve Criner after a successful hunt with an outfitter in western Oklahoma.

When most hunters picture hunting with an outfitter, they immediately conclude that the hunt will consist of a guide taking them to a prime location where predators will magically appear in the blink of an eye. Sadly, that isn’t quite how it works.

When using an outfitter on a deer, turkey or elk hunt, the objective is for the outfitter to put the hunter in a location where he or she has the opportunity of taking a trophy animal. When using an outfitter for a predator hunt the expectations are similar — primo hunting with excellent results. However, the outcome is often a symbiotic one. Hunters help outfitters with predator control while gaining access to premier private hunting grounds.

I recently visited with Steve Criner of Dog Solider TV about his many experiences hunting predators with various outfitters while traveling across the country filming his shows. He agrees that hunting with an outfitter can be beneficial to the outfitter and predator hunter alike. Criner explained that he first started using outfitters because they would contact him in need of his services. Most outfitters have the same mission, he says, to get rid of the coyotes and bobcats on their property to help benefit their guided hunts for deer, turkeys, elk or whatever their main source of income is. “On several occasions, I have gone into an outfitter, after they have contacted me to help manage their predators,” Criner said. “Although they may be great hunters themselves or already know how to call predators, I would show them what I know about calling predators to use to their advantage.”

That, combined with the outfitter taking other clients themselves, results in an extended number of opportunities to control more predators and provides additional income for their business. As for ways to become a better predator hunter by using an outfitter, it has many benefits. “Although 60 percent of my hunting is on private land, the other 40 percent comes from private land owned by outfitters which usually doubles my success, simply because it is private land that is regulated from excessive hunting pressure,” Criner said. “The good thing for predator hunters is that we all know we are there for one reason, that is to control predators to help boost numbers in the game animals that the outfitters are selling hunts for, and this extends the season because hunters get to keep on hunting coyotes and bobcats throughout the winter up until spring,” Criner added.

 

Population Management

Can enlisting the services of an outfitter make you a better hunter? According to Criner, yes. “Using an outfitter can definitely up your game as a hunter, no matter if you’re a beginner or a veteran,” he said. “C and S Whitetails in Kansas and Rut N Strut Guide Service in Oklahoma are both outfitters I have hunted with for many years. Both places are owned by guys who know how to call predators. When you go into places such as these that have top-notch ground and they know what is working and where coyotes live, it is a great way for a beginner to get through that learning curve.” Criner also stresses that it could also help hunters who might be struggling a bit with their calling techniques or hunting strategies. Going with an outfitter for a few days, where stands have already been scouted and high populations of coyotes are likely, can be a confidence booster and a great way to sharpen hunting skills that hunters can take to their everyday hunting grounds, no matter where they live.

Another great benefit of hunting with an outfitter is the relationships built along the way. “I am fortunate to be able to hand pick the outfitters that I use throughout the year because of relationships that I have made from deer, turkey or mule deer hunting,” Criner said. “Throughout 15 years of hunting, I have made some great friends; many are like family to me.”

Dog Soldier TV's Steve Criner on the hunt.
Dog Soldier TV's Steve Criner on the hunt.

Learning from the Pros

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to go on my first outfitted predator hunt while working with a hunting manufacturer. The hunt was in western Oklahoma and was a media hunt for a few top-tier writers. Throughout the three days that I was able to hunt, we called in 36 coyotes as a group. Needless to say, I was sold on the benefits and results that hunting with an outfitter can produce. On that trip the most significant outcome was my ability to focus on calling techniques to bring coyotes into shooting range.

Our guides would take us to areas they had previously scouted or had hunted in the past and were known for producing coyotes. All I had to do was go where they suggested and make an uninterrupted calling sequence that, most of the time, resulted in coyotes showing up. So how do you find quality outfitters and what should you look for? Criner suggests paying attention to professional predator hunters such as himself to see where they have success. “I am consistently getting guys and girls asking me where I’ve hunted because they’ve seen me on TV, or if I can recommend a certain outfitter,” Criner said. “By watching these top predator guys on television, you can get an excellent taste of what to expect from an outfitter. If you see me or someone else hunting at the same place year after year, that’s a sure sign that there are a lot of predators there.”

Criner also recommends using the Internet to find an outfitter, but he cautions to be vigilant. “The Internet is a great place to search for outfitters,” he said. “However, it is the same as with other things on social media, places can look better than they are.” Criner suggests reading reviews and testimonies from other clients who have hunted the same locations in the past. “Make sure the outfitter is credible, meaning they have good reviews,” he said. “If a hunter had a bad experience on his or her first outfitted hunt it can leave a bad taste in their mouth. Even worse, ruin them from ever trying it again.” Another great place to find suggested places to travel to hunt is by getting on social media forums or Facebook and ask for recommendations. Many groups consist of predator hunters who love to share their experiences, making it easy to get feedback regarding where they’ve had their best experiences.

Hunting with an outfitter has it advantages — such as access to prime private hunting grounds.
Hunting with an outfitter has it advantages — such as access to prime private hunting grounds.

Boosting Confidence

Most beginning predator hunters are looking for knowledge of how to successfully call in coyotes or bobcats and are continually searching for tips and ideas. Finding a recommended outfitter who can show them what they do to successfully call predators themselves while providing an excellent property that produces superior numbers of critters is an excellent learning experience for the beginner. The veteran predator hunter can also benefit from an outfitter even if they have already experienced many successful hunts. One of the first jobs that I had as an adult was a furniture salesman, which, of course, was a commission job. Working on commission means when you don’t sell, you don’t get paid. During this time, when salesmen would struggle for a while with their sales, the company would send them to a two-day training exercise to help build their confidence by refreshing them with sales tactics and giving them pointers for future sales.

Having a veteran predator hunter go with an outfitter can work in the same manner as those old sales training days. When a hunter seems to be going through many dry stands, or it has been a while since he has had success, an outfitter might be the answer. By using an outfitter for predator hunting, which is usually inexpensive, the hunter can go to a place with better predator populations, resulting in better calling opportunities, as well as using guides to help refresh calling skills. “A lot of these guides are accomplished callers themselves; they can show you what has been working for them lately and give you tips and pointers that can help build your confidence back up after struggling for some time,” Criner said. “Often, hunters will gain renewed confidence after a successful two- or three-day hunt with an outfitter.

Many hunters have the impression that hunting with an outfitter is for those who have a lot of money or hunt for a living on TV. However, there are many ways for everyday predator hunters to pass along their services as a predator control specialist to landowners while making themselves more successful hunters along the way.

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