You’ve heard of the phrase “location, location, location.” Before you get to a location you need to be a student of the phrase “access, access, access.” As summer approaches and your predator hunting slows down you should set aside time to scout new hunting areas with a focus on accessing those lands far away from crowds. Whether you hunt private or public land you will likely be sharing the property with other hunters. That means you need to be savvy on how to avoid others during your time afield. Getting away from the crowds is all about access and it doesn’t matter if you’re hunting coyotes in Illinois or bobcats in Montana. Here are a few tricks of the trade you might want to consider to disappear on properties with hunting pressure. Do your scouting now and you’ll be ready when furs are prime.
- Scout for secondary access entrance points. Whether hunting public land or private property you share with other hunters, look for other entrance points to avoid congestion. Predators key in on heavily-used pasture roads, main trailheads and field gates. They tend to avoid these regions to avoid human activity. Mark these areas on your maps and then look for lesser-known access areas away from these human hotspots.
- Put on the extra miles. Study after study reveals most hunters rarely get a mile away from roads or trailheads. As you scout, note locations that are just beyond the mile mark and make a waypoint on your Garmin GPS. I’ve seen it firsthand. Hunters are willing to go a half-mile to make a setup, but few travel beyond that and that’s oftentimes how far predators travel to escape hunters after a long night of prowling. Make the extra effort and you’ll be “Home Alone.”
- Negotiate land access. Some private landowners won’t allow hunting, but they may allow responsible trespassing to cross their land to landlocked blocks of public ground, especially for predator control. Use GPS programs like Hunting GPS Maps to find these parcels and cruise the friendly skies with Google Earth to plan for entrance permission. Make these contacts now and you won’t waste hunting time during the fur season.
- Get in shape. Moving past the crowds requires some lungpower. A year-round workout regimen is best, but if you want to access the best predator locations put the Doritos down and walk the dog as often as possible. You’ll be happy you did when you go the extra mile in the desert Southwest or bust through snow in the Northeast.
- This last point is actually to file away for your hunts. Arrive early. If you want to beat the crowds set your alarm an hour earlier and get the jump on the good spots. Be silent, but swift and circumnavigate around any known predator hotspots so at daylight you’ll be in place for the perfect ambush. You’ll also be miles ahead of your competition and possibly packing a predator out while they are just leaving the trailhead.