There is something extremely satisfying when scouting a new property and finding a slam-dunk predator hunting setup. Sometimes it takes years to intimately learn a property though. There are surefire ways to shorten this learning curve, however. Try these recommendations the next time you’re looking into your new hunting ground.
Talking with landowners and others who work the land gives you a shortcut to predator-rich areas. All areas of a property are not created equally. Some have more predator traffic than others and those hardy souls that spend 365 days a year on the land likely have seen predator patterns emerge over time. Wyoming coyote-hunting veteran Craig Maris agrees. His advice is to always query the landowner on predator sightings, especially his favorite targets: coyotes. This will provide a speedy understanding of how predators pattern on a property. You already need to ask landowners for permission to hunt so just add one more question to your list. “Where do you consistently see predator activity?”
“You should always listen to the rancher or landowner,” advises Maris. “Take some time and talk with them because they can reveal where they’ve been seeing coyotes regularly over the years. Whether it’s a trail, field or creek bottom, they spend time on the land and over the years see coyote trends. I oftentimes end up on a ranch with no idea where to start, but by asking the landowner I can’t tell you how many times I’ve busted a coyote on the first visit.”
Once you find success on a stand location Maris also says to file that away for future reference. You can mark it on your ScoutLook map along with current weather conditions. Hunting programs like ScoutLook Weather give you an edge by combining satellite imagery with weather, mapping tools and hunting information.
Coyotes spend time in a certain area for a reason, whether it provides the perfect sanctuary or it’s a great hunting spot for food. By removing a coyote from the real estate, you open up a vacuum and another coyote, will quickly move in and set up shop. Maris recommends giving the spot a three-week break and then hitting it again for a try at a new coyote resident.
If you exclusively hunt public land you can still get that firsthand information, but you’ll need to backtrack a bit further. Most public lands are leased for livestock grazing and some of these leases have been with the same families for generations. These families spend considerable time on the public grazing lands working livestock, checking water and fixing fence. This gives them the same predator insight as if the land were their own so try to track them down and politely ask about predator movement.
Public land managers, whether federal, state or county, can also give you insight on what they see while managing, or patrolling public allotments. While scouting a BLM tract one fall, I asked a BLM official that I caught leaving a pasture if he saw much for coyotes in the area. He shared with me a tip on a canyon on the opposite side of the pasture that butted up against a private parcel. The coyotes regularly coursed from the private land to hole up in the rugged BLM acres during daylight. It’s been a mainstay site of mine since and I never miss an opportunity to get information straight from the people with boots on the ground.