A Trail Bike Can Open New Doors to Prime Fur Country

Trail bikes can also provide a lot of enjoyment along the way.

A Trail Bike Can Open New Doors to Prime Fur Country

When I first started hunting predators back in the mid-1990s, I became very aware early on that picking the right spot to call was paramount to success. Wind direction, terrain type and sun position all played a role in determining the perfect spot for a stand. 

As I began accumulating my go-to spots, it occurred to me that in order to maximize my calling productivity, I was picking locations that were a relatively easy walk from where I parked my truck. Keeping the vehicle out of sight, I would hike a few hundred yards, sit down and start calling. At times, I’d stretch the distance to 500 or 600 yards just to sit in the perfect spot, but this would obviously take more time and reduce the number of calling stands I could make in a day.

As I gained more experience over the years, I finally settled on making as many stands as possible and kept the hiking to a minimum. However, always in the back of my mind was the thought that I was passing up a lot of great calling territory because I couldn’t easily get to it.

An Idea Was Born

In 2009, I was on a hunt with my good friend, Ed Davis. Besides being an amazing predator hunter and caller, Davis also devotes some of his free time riding motorcycles at a near professional level. Riding since the age of 6, he now routinely enters and rides in motocross events in his 50s.

We were on the back end of a pretty good predator hunting trip when we started talking about motorcycles. We were relaxing at the end of the day, having a couple of beers, when I had stated that we seemed to be missing a lot of good calling country because we couldn’t drive close enough to it. Ed mentioned that he used to hunt off a small trail bike that he’d load into the bed of his truck, just to get off the beaten path.

Even though I had almost no riding experience, I had always wanted to get a small trail bike and just explore. I had ridden a motorcycle once when I was young — a brief ride that resulted in a low speed lay down of the bike and a broken clutch handle. Other than that, I didn’t have any real practical riding experience.

We continued to discuss motorcycles, and how they could extend our hunting range. I listened to everything Ed had to say on the subject. He is an experienced rider, knows his bikes and really wasn’t presenting any negatives.

After our beer-soaked discussion on trail bikes, I was ready to head out right then and buy a motorcycle. Knowing my limited riding experience, Ed wanted to make sure I was committed before I spent the money. “Let’s put you on a borrowed bike first and see how you like it,” he suggested.

The Trial Run

A few weeks later, we were back out in the desert, offloading two Honda 100 trail bikes. Ed brought his own motorcycle and a borrowed bike from his brother. He gave me some brief instructions and then essentially set me loose. It took me a little while to get used to the bike and riding on the uneven desert terrain, but within an hour I was comfortable and having an absolute blast.

We did a little hunting during that trip, but honestly, it was all about riding offroad and getting used to the bike. Eventually, we circled back to the truck and loaded the bikes. Before the tie downs were tightened, I knew I was going to purchase a bike of my own.

On the drive back, Ed told me that part of the appeal of trail bikes for hunting is that they are small and quiet. Essentially, anywhere someone could hike, a small motorcycle could get them there. He mentioned that motoring between stands, he rarely gets out of second gear, keeping the noise to an absolute minimum. He parks the bike in some bushes or behind a dirt mound, hikes a few yards and starts calling.

Hunting with a Honda

The bikes Ed had brought out for my training day were both Honda 100s, perfect for what I wanted to do. He said I could easily get a good used bike for a modest investment that would run forever and serve the purpose.

For the next several weeks, I combed through the classifieds looking for a good hunting bike. I must’ve sent Ed a dozen texts asking him about certain models and sizes of bikes. He kept steering me back to the Honda 100 series of trail bikes. He finally sent me a link to one for sale near me. He followed that text with one simply stating, “This is your hunting bike!” Three days later, my very own Honda 100 was sitting in my garage.

During the test drive, I felt instantly comfortable. The bike was solid and had been well taken care of. Back home, I rigged the motorcycle with a gear bag to hold a caller, some water and any other essentials I’d need while away from the truck. To keep dust and dirt off my rifle, I found an elastic cover that fit snugly over it. I tied my shooting sticks and a seating pad to the front of the handlebars, completing my calling rig. Finally, I pulled all the crazy decals off and added my own skull design to the side plate. My predator hunting trail bike was ready to go!

The following week we were back out in the desert hunting from our bikes. Ed had mentioned that he wanted to check out a basin near the base of the mountains where he hadn’t called in over a decade. Calling or not, I was just excited to get on my own trail bike and head out.

For the first mile, we followed an old two-track into a canyon. As the old road disappeared, we dropped into a dry drainage and traveled upstream. A mile farther, we rode out of the creek bed and around the base of a mountain. The only tracks we saw were those of animals.

Ed slowed a bit and stopped near a grove of Joshua trees. I pulled in a little behind him and shut the bike down. Ed pointed to a small dirt hill 30 yards from where we had parked the bikes and we grabbed our gear, made the short hike in and started calling.

We were seated about 10 yards apart on the backside of the small dirt hill with the sun at our backs. Ed was doing the calling and about a minute after he started, I caught movement straight out in front of us — a coyote, 80 yards out and coming hard. I let out one short bark and it slammed on the brakes. The coyote was looking right into the sun and couldn’t quite make us out. I swung my rifle and sticks over, almost instantly found it in the scope and dropped it where it stood. My first motorcycle coyote was on the ground!

The rest of the day was filled with awesome coyote calling and riding wherever we wanted. We traveled through some amazing territory and never saw another hunter, vehicle or any other sign of human presence. We ended up calling five coyotes and killing three. From that point on, I knew that if I was in the desert hunting, I’d be doing it off my motorcycle.

To illustrate just how effective this mode of travel is when it comes to calling coyotes, consider that on one trip we made eight stands and had coyotes come in to six of them. With the bikes, we were able to access new calling country and get closer to our stands quietly. Not to mention that running around like a kid on a trail bike, going wherever you please, is just plain fun!

Going Solo

A few weeks later, wanting to get out on my own, I loaded up the bike and headed out to ride and call by myself. I have always greatly appreciated any help I get to learn a new technique, but when it comes right down to it, I want to be able to feel comfortable enough to head out on my own, too.

Once I was in the desert, I offloaded the bike and got my gear ready. I checked the wind and headed out. The first two stands were blanks, but I didn’t care. Mostly, I just wanted to explore and get comfortable on the bike.

I headed up a dry riverbed and found a small hill that looked perfect. I rode the bike to the backside of the mound and parked. I hiked less than 10 yards and found a good spot to sit, placed the caller 30 yards out front and hit the On button. 

I didn’t have to wait long. A hard charger came running in to my left to about 100 yards and then headed out fast. I swung my rifle and sticks over just as it stopped and looked back at the caller. A tug of the trigger and it was over. On that trip, I killed three coyotes using the motorcycle to get where it’s likely no one else has ever called. I’ve been hunting coyotes since the late ’90s, but will remember that solo trail bike trip for the rest of my life.

Learning the Ropes

The gear needed to start this adventure was surprisingly easy to get and relatively inexpensive. I picked up the lightly used trail bike for $1,000 and already had everything else I needed. Guided by Ed’s advice, I ended up choosing the Honda 100 trail bike, a well-built, long-lasting motorcycle that is extremely easy to work on.

To get the animals back to the truck, I found a sturdy piece of plastic that easily rolled up and tied it to the back of the bike. When I wanted to bring the coyotes back, I would unroll the 4-foot-long piece of plastic, tie the coyotes to it and drag it behind the motorcycle. It was lightweight, easily stored on the trail bike and worked well.

Having essentially zero experience riding, the smaller bike was easy to learn on and I quickly became comfortable with it. Now, whether I’m headed out solo or planning a run with Ed, I nearly always load up the bike and add a bit of fun to the trip. Nothing beats going where you want and knowing that not many hunters have ever been there before you.

I’ve always enjoyed exploring unspoiled areas beyond the beaten path. And whether I hike or ride, the journey is always just as important as the destination. Hunting from a trail bike has opened a whole new world for me. While just being outside charges me with the freedom to go anywhere I want, using the bike adds so much more to the adventure.


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