How Weather Affects Predator-Calling Success

Does the weather affect your predator-calling success? Take a look at some interesting findings to see whether you should head out with your calls or stay home.

How Weather Affects Predator-Calling Success

A variety of weather factors can affect your predator-calling success, from high wind and rain to changes in barometric pressure. (Photo: Mark Kayser)

How does weather affect your predator calling success? You probably ponder that question every early morning you get up for a predator hunt and check the weather forecast. An old study from North Dakota may shed new light on that very topic.

While flipping through the pages of the North American Hunting Club book “Hunting Predators; Proven Tactics That Work” by my good friend Gordy Krahn, I stumbled across some interesting weather data. Krahn, a predator hunting fanatic, came across the information from a survey of 3,000 hunters and included it in his 2001 book. The survey was overseen by Steve Allen, former furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. The survey’s focus was factors that influence the response of predators while calling. Coyote and red fox were the furbearers of choice.

Time of year kicks off the survey’s emphasis. Response for red fox was the highest in the winter months over fall hunting. Interestingly, coyote response rates were higher in fall and spring. Red fox responded more vigorously in cold conditions while coyotes loped to a call better in warmer temperatures.

Along with the rise and fall of the thermometer mercury, the survey queried about snow conditions. Respondents noted that the red fox came to calls better in deeper snow. Coyote calling success fared better with less snow. Keep that in mind during El Nino winters and how they affect snowfall. 

What About Pressure?

The weather phenomena of barometric pressure, which critters seem able to measure internally, also appears to play a role in predator response.

Survey-takers wrote that red fox came to calls with higher rates during a changing barometer. In the coyote community, positive reactions to calls were higher during periods with steady barometric pressure.

Clouds often precede or follow high and low barometric pressure so the survey added that question. Most red fox survey participants agreed there was no discernable difference in calling success based on the varying degrees of cloud cover.

However, coyote hunters saw it differently. As the skies got cloudier, hunters saw a higher rate of coyote activity. This may be just my personal speculation, but I have better success on the first and last sets of the day. I contribute that to low light that possibly boosts a coyote’s confidence to move about, especially in pressured hunting areas … just saying.

Wind and Rain?

Finally, the poll asked about precipitation and wind.

Interestingly, most sampled hunters remarked that they saw no difference in calling success for either species in changing precipitation conditions. I’m not sure they were including dam-bursting deluges or train-stopping snowfalls in that question, but in moderate precipitation I’d have to agree.

Of course we all can agree on the effect of the last condition: wind. High winds, whether today or two decades ago, are unconstructive to calling success. North Dakotans know that fact all too well.

The next time you wake up blurry eyed and questioning whether to slip into the camouflage, revisit these survey findings. It could provide the answer as to whether watching predator hunting on the flat screen or braving the elements is for you.

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