Posted on 15. Jan, 2014 by Stephen.
The name is derived from the Greek words “Uro” and “Cyon” meaning “tailed dog”. The specific name is derived from the Latin combining forms, cinereo meaning “ashy” and argenteus for “silvered”.
The Gray Fox lacks the glamour of the flamboyant red fox. His coloration, although attractive, is not nearly as conspicuous. His preferred habitat is the unbroken forest. He will not lead the hounds to a merry chase. He has neither the cunning, speed nor the strength of the red fox, nor does he need them. He has one saving grace; alone among the Canids (dog family) he can climb trees. [...]
Posted on 08. Jan, 2014 by Stephen.
The scientific name for the raccoon, Procyon means before (pro) Dog (cyon); the specific name means washer (lotor). Coons are about 31 inches long, with a bushy tail that is 10 inches in length. Its weight may vary from 12 to 26 pounds and an occasional specimen may go as high as 40 pounds. [...]
Posted on 12. Apr, 2014 by Stephen.
I recently discovered my lovely manicured lawn, freshly cut using my brand new zero point lawn mower was being dug up by animal or animals unknown! So I thought I may as well put my game cameras up and see what it was. Low and behold, the little critters were Opossums so I had to investigate them further. What are opossums I hear you ask?
The opossum is a marsupial, meaning that they are mainly active at night. They are about the same size as the average house cat. They have a long hair and a pointy snout. They are mostly gray in color and have a white face and a tail that bears no hair. Their tail is mostly used as a tool for climbing trees. Their feet resemble the human hand, that aids in grasping branches when climbing. Both of these tools alone, make the opossum very agile in the trees. The male opossum averages 30-37 inches in length and the tail is usually about 12-14 inches long. The female is usually slightly smaller and weighs approximately 5-8 pounds.
The favored habitat for the opossum is in the forest, usually close to a creek, stream, or river. Their home range is about a 30 acre area, but if hungry, they will travel long distances for food. The fall is when most opossums are spotted. They spend most of their time during this time of the year feeding heavily and becoming very fat. This will help give their body cold protection and a fat reserve when food is scarce during the long winter months.
Opossums are a marsupial and do most of their feeding at night. Simply said, Opossums will eat nearly anything. Their main diet consists of: fish, berries, insects, crayfish, frogs, toads, and bird eggs. It is also very common for people to see them scavenging through trash and left-overs at public campgrounds.
Breeding and Reproduction
Opossums are ready to breed by the time they reach one year of age. Breeding takes place during the month of March and the young are born just 12-14 days after conception. The young are born very small, .0045 of an ounce, with no hair and their eyes closed. They will climb to their mother’s nipples where they will suckle and grow for nearly 75-90 days and remain with their mother until they are around 5 months old.
What does it mean to me?
I may have my trusty inversion table to help ease my back pain after all the gardening and mowing I do, but it sure helps to know what the chances of my efforts being rewarded are when it comes to little critters like this throwing a spanner in the works.
Posted on 23. Mar, 2014 by Stephen.
The best way to do this is to always have some type of shooting stick in your vehicle. I like to use two each, 36 inch length, 1/4 or 1/2 inch diameter dowel rods to steady my shots. Crossing the sticks makes for an excellent rifle rest, especially when you have to shoot a fox out to the 100 yard mark with a 22 Mag.
You can also improve the sticks by apply camouflage adhesive backed bow tape. Just run the tape down the entire length of both sticks. This will also stop any fox or coyote from seeing the gleam or shine of the white wood.
Some hunters do not use a cover scent when they hunt predators. I always do. A Scent Vent is necessary to buy you time when you hunt predators. You can buy a commercial scent vent to mask your odor or make your own from a 35 MM film container. Just place a piece of cotton inside of the film container to absorb the scent. What are some of the scents that predator hunter use in their scent vents? They use Raccoon urine, Red Fox Urine, and Skunk essence.
Keeping track of everything
Make sure you keep a log book on all your hunts. There are some valuable info you can use for future hunts. Below are some things you just might want to log in your book after each hunt.
Date, Time, Departure, Wind Velocity, Animals called in: Farm location, type of weather, type of moon phase, call used. Be specific about the name, brand and model. Type of sound you used, How long you called. Type of gun you used. Type of light system you used on your firearm. Note down who hunted with you right down to details such as how much food and coffee provisions were appropriate. I like to fill to fill flasks with the finest espresso coffee to stay alert, warm and happy.
Also make sure you keep a record of some of the electronic sounds that you did not call in predators with too.
Draw a diagram of your productive set up and on how the predator approached the call. Finally if anything unique happened on the hunt, annotate that to. Down the road your children or grandchildren are going to pick up the log and enjoy reading about your experiences. Until then I like to keep all my logbooks and firearms in a safe place at home so they don’t get lost or fall into the wrong hands.
Posted on 13. Mar, 2014 by Stephen.
All predators will circle down wind of your position to get a good smell. You can use this to your advantage. Set up with your back to a stream, lake or large pond. The wind should be blowing in your face across the water. Place the speaker about 20 yards from the water edge. The speaker should be facing into the wind. The predator will approach the sound. It will then circle down wind to try to smell if the distressed animal is the real thing. However, when the predator hits the edge of the water, it will not be able to make the desired arc to get down wind of the sound. All you have to do is keep watching the left and the right of your position. When the predator does hit the water edge he will come into the sound along waters edge. Of course you will be able to ambush the fox or coyote with your best crossbow or rifle primed ready since it will run right toward your set up position.
The following are basic electronic sounds needed to call predators:
The Gray Fox Pup Distress – excellent call for gray fox, coon, and coyotes.
The Field Mouse Distress – the field mouse is the favorite food of all predators. This sound will call in red and gray fox, coon, bobcat, and coyotes.
The Cottontail Distress – excellent for red and gray fox, bobcat, and coyotes.
The Woodpecker Distress – outstanding for red and gray fox, coon, bobcat, coyotes.
The Red and The Gray Fox fight – a good sound to use when fox are mating in Late January and early February. Will also call coyotes and coon.
Fawn Distress – red and gray fox, bobcat, coyotes. Make sure your calling library includes at least the sounds mentioned above.
If you are going to buy an electronic caller that operates from a voice chip, make sure you tell your source of purchase that you want the above mentioned sounds programmed on your electronic calling device. Some of the better digital synthesizers can help you to replicate some of the sounds to record should you not be able to identify them to the merchant.
Getting the right call
Certain callers stumble on a call that really brings in predators. I too have a call that works great on red fox. There are times I will use the electronic sound for a full 30 minutes and nothing shows. I do my special call and the red fox is there within a minute or so. What happens is that electronic sound gets the interest of the predator, but not enough to bring them right in. You use a series of yelps, distress sounds, painful cries and the fox is there within seconds.
Many times it is not the same sound over and over on a mouth call. Sometimes it is the sound of a distressed animal and additional sounds used shortly there after. The red fox hears something different and they think this can not be an electronic sound this has to be the real thing.
Posted on 05. Mar, 2014 by Stephen.
Always! Always! Always! Call your way into a hunting area. If you walk in hundreds of yards before you set up you are going to alert the predator or scare the predator away. On crusty snow, call just where it is legal. If you walk in just 50 to 100 yards on crusty snow the predator will hear the crunch of the snow.
How do you know you have been had by the predator?
In most cases when you start to call you will hear a canine bark. If you hear the bark, they know you are there and the hunt is probably over before it even begins in which case you might end up back in your tent. You’ll appreciate a good air mattress for a decent night’s rest ready to give it another go the next morning.
Using a shooting rest
When you use a rifle to hunt predators use some kind of a shooting rest. There are so many different kinds on the market. Find one that will suit your shooting needs. There is the cheap cane type, Tri Pod, and the more expensive folding types that attach right to your forearm of your rifle. Remember when you start to use more rifle scope magnification, field of view, and high MM designation you will see your cross hairs moving in the scope. Start by picking one of the best scopes and then stabilize your shooting by using some kind of a shooting rest.
Use flags on buildings and on houses to determine wind direction. Also do inquiries to weather.com or watch your local news or view the weather channel on the cable TV network to see when weather fronts are coming through, wind direction, and wind velocity.
Use this info to make-set ups at certain hunting lands. If the wind is not blowing correctly for one area do not even hunt it this time. Save it for when the wind direction is blowing to your advantage.
Could the animal have rabies?
Should you harvest a predator remember the rabies virus will remain live in dead animals if the animals are frozen. Warm temperatures actually kill the rabies virus in dead animals.
Always use gloves when you skin all wild animals. Remember all mammals and raptors can be rabid and the rabies virus would die faster if an animal was harvested in September vs. February.
Do not let children or adults handle harvested animals for picture taking sessions. If they have an open wound they could get rabies from an infected animal. The magic number is 70 Degree. If the temperature gets to be 70 degrees, the rabies virus will die. If it’s colder it takes a longer amount of time for the rabies virus to die.
Posted on 27. Feb, 2014 by Stephen.
Prior to the season scout the land where you are going to hunt. If there are no predators in the area, then you are not going to be too successful. Look for possible prey in three places: on a lone large rock in a field, on bails of hay, and right in the center of a trail that goes up the side of a mountain. In most cases they will be right at the top of the hill right in the center of the trail. Set up a decent trail camera over night if necessary. If you are going out of town pull out a map of the area you are hunting and find rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes. Prey animals are always around bodies of water or tributaries to large bodies of water. Where you find prey, you will find predators.
Some other great places to score are along railroads tracks, power lines that go over mountains, along the sides of ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. Coyotes can be found along the major interstates. They feed on the deer that are crippled or die from collisions with autos. You have seen a large car junk yards along the roads. If you can get permission to hunt these car graveyards at nighttime you will have good luck hunting gray fox, coon, and coyotes. Don’t forget to before pull out a map of the area you plan to hunt while out of town and also remember where you saw all the car junk yards, but most importantly, don’t forget to get permission before hunting.
Using a shotgun
Every shotgun does not shoot the same with the same ammo. Take your shotgun out and pattern it at 30 to 40 yards to see which factory ammo works best. Shoot a pattern from a stationary position at a 30 inch circle. Keep records for each brand, size, and shot size patterned.
While at the range write in the corner of target all pertinent shooting data; choke used, factory shotgun shell brand used, shot size, shot weight, shell length, 2 3/4, 3 inch or 3 1/2, etc. Record special data about the shell such as if the round is buffered, Bismuth, special name given by manufacturer so you can identify them when you purchase more. After you fire different rounds at a new blank target, take the targets home with you, lay them on the floor and count the pellets that are in a 30 inch circle. If need be use a pressure washer to make sure they are clean enough to identify.
Also make sure you notice which pattern have hit the target in a uniform pattern. You do not want gaps in your pattern. If need be try one of the new turkey chokes that are on the market. I have had good pattern density by using this type of turkey choke. Write all info down in a record book fore future reference.
Many of the predator hunters I know say they get better patterns with the turkey choke tubes using number # 2 shot instead of size BB. If you see some old # 2 shot lead on the shelf in an old gun shop buy it. .Do not use steel shot for predator hunting.
Posted on 18. Feb, 2014 by Stephen.
When hunting gray fox, using sounds like the Gray Fox Pup Distress or the Gray Fox and Coon Fight always shine the tree line where your electronic calling machine is sitting. This is one of the most productive ways to harvest bonus coon. They will climb the trees where you are calling.
Prior to departing an area remember to shine your light in all of the nearby trees. You may have called in one or more coon and did not even know it. You can get extra bonus fur this way.
“WALKING THE DOG”; an Outstanding Strategy for Gray Fox!
I do not have to tell the seasoned gray fox hunter the Gray Fox Pup Distress is the best electronic sound for gray fox. This is a great strategy to try when hunting in Gray fox country or when you know they are in the area.
I always start my electronic calling with a food sound. You never know if a red fox is in the area, if nothing responds to the food distress sound. Place or select the gray fox pup distress sound on your electronic caller. Let it play for 5 minutes. You should be watching downwind of the speaker. Start what I call “Walking the Dog”. With the gray fox pup playing, carry the speaker about 40 yards and place the electronic call and speaker on the ground. Let it play for about 3 minutes. Without shutting it off, pick it up and walk 40 yards and place it on the ground; wait 3 minutes. Pick it up and walk another 40 yards. Keep doing this for the about a 30 minute duration.
Try this along railroad tracks, tree lines, power lines. Always keep the wind at your back. This technique brings in gray fox quite well. They must think one of their own kind is in distress and is running along the tracks, trees, and or power lines. I have found it is best to use a shotgun and do this a night time.
Skinning your fox
You have all seen chain dog choke collars. You make a loop by placing the chain through the handle and it works just like a leather collar. Did you know they make excellent skinning gambrels? If you attach the loop to the fox leg, you can hang it from a tree to do skinning at home and in the field. It is a good idea to place one with your gear so you do not leave home without it.
Posted on 10. Feb, 2014 by Stephen.
Decoys will work making the predators place their attention on the decoy instead of the hunter. Most states will allow you to use fawn, rabbit, food type decoys both electrical (mechanical) and non-mechanical.
Check with your state wildlife agencies first before you even purchase any decoys. Pennsylvania does not allow the use of any type of food decoys for hunting predators.
If a warden determines that it is food for the predator you will be fined. In other words, even if it is not electrical.
Should you be hunting coyote and have a rubber or stuffed rabbit, fawn decoy, duck decoy, turkey decoy or even a stuffed fox if you are hunting coyotes. All of these are considered food in Pennsylvania and you will be arrested.
Again, make sure you check your state laws on decoys for predator hunting before you go venture out into the outdoors.
The Bridge Setup
Many farmers have property with streams on their land. Keep a note of all property with small bridges over streams. The set up is simple. Call across the bridge.
The predator approaches to the sound from the other side of the bridge. The best set up is to point the speaker down wind. The wind should be blowing over the bridge. The shooter should post in front of the sound source. The Predator hearing the sound will try to cross the bridge. The hunter will be able to take a shot as the predator tries to cross the bridge to get to the sound source.
Using a dot scope
April is the best time of the year to decide if you want one of the new dot scopes. You will want your shotgun tapped and the dot scope mounted behind the barrel.
Do not mount the scope light to the rib of the shotgun and stay away from mounts that will place the light scope light high. It is important to have the dot scope installed by a good gunsmith. I like the basic Weaver mounts for the lighted scope dot, but it is best to have the gunsmith decide on the mounts. On or about June 1 you can take your shotgun and scope dot to a competent gunsmith for mounting because gobbler season will be over and they will not be as busy. You will also have the rest of the summer to practice and pattern your shotgun using the new site. By taking care of your scope mounting in the off-season you will be ready when fox opens in the fall.
Where to put your equipment
A plastic toolbox is an excellent purchase to house your chokes, batteries, small flashlights, ammo, spare scent vents, light bulbs, spare calls, and other calling needs. When it is time to go hunting you can just grab your calling toolbox, place it in your hunting vehicle and go. This equipment will be readily available to you if you need a replacement on a hunt. At season’s end it makes a great place to store all of those small items that normally would be misplaced.
What not to wear hunting
Do not wear clothing made of canvas or nylon. Fabrics of this type tend to make too much sound. Even small game briar pants will alert the predator a human is in the area. Wearing clothing made of the right fabric will help you call in more predators. Try scent-free clothing made of fleece or a quiet material and camo clothing used for archery hunting when you hunt predators and see how many more varmint you call.
Posted on 04. Feb, 2014 by Stephen.
A proven strategy set up for me is during the daytime to find a farm with a high hill that overlooks a valley below. The valley below could consists of cut corn corn fields, soybean fields, and wood lots below.
Using full camo on face, hands, body, and gun. You need a good flat shooting rifle in a fur friendly round. I like the 17 Center Fire here. I will sit in full camo overlooking the valley below.
Here is the secret to get the fox to show themselves so you can pick them off during the daytime. Use an electronic caller and make sure the wind is blowing toward the valley below. Do not sit right by the sound source. Sit on the horizon of the hill but about 70 yards to the right or left of the speaker. It is important that you do not use a food sound like rabbit distress, fieldmouse, woodpecker. Use a canine distress sound in the electronic caller.
Some outstanding sounds to use are the baby red fox, or the red fox pup, or the gray and the red fox fight. Play these sounds for about 30 minutes on a high volume. What occurs is you will get the curiosity of a red or gray fox. They will show themselves in one of the fields or low lands in the valley below.
A well placed shot with a 17 Rem CF and or 22 hornet will enable you to harvest some daytime fox.
Taking advantage of roads
The bend in the dirt road set up is excellent place for predator hunting. As you all know that if you set up on the outside bend of a road instead of the inside bend you will be able to see further up the road. The electronic caller or the hand caller can call 100 yards up wind of the bend in the road.
The lone shooter if using an electronic call or the shooter if someone is using a hand call post on the outside bend of the road. This will be 100 yards down wind of the call or caller. The predator will hear the call and travel down the road. The shooter will see the predator easier since they will be on the outside of the bend. If they were on the inside of the bend they would not see the approaching predators.
One of the best calls to use for all predators is the bulb squeaker. This call simulates the sound of field mice squeaking. All of the predators in Pennsylvania will come to the field mouse squeaks. All you have to do is squeak it to make the field mouse distress sound.
The bulb squeaker can be used to bring a fox in for a shot if they hang up on you. If they stop and will not come closer. Just give a few squeaks on a bulb squeaker. Some hunters tape the squeaker right to the rifle or shotgun. Just a few taps on the squeaker is all it takes to get them into range. The squeaker is also an excellent call to use a a regular predator call.
All predators have excellent ears. You would not think they could hear a mouse squeaker. They can actually hear the squeaking about 300 yards away. That is 3 football fields long. In a pinch you can also use a dog or a baby toy and squeak in a predator. If you like to try to take pictures of a fox try the squeaker. I bet you might get a nice picture with your camera. Remember to use some camo even when you are taking pictures.
Posted on 29. Jan, 2014 by Stephen.
Electronic calling machines come in different configurations. There are many to choose from ranging from a light weight caller resembling the look of flash light to bulky battery cassette callers with 20 feet of cable attached to a speaker, the boom box caller, and the CD walkman caller with speaker, amplifier, and power packs.
It is important to carry the calling device with a call bag. Usually a call bag is included with the calling device when purchased. If your device did not come with a bag, you should purchase a bag that will allow you to fit your calling device and contents inside. Using a call bag will preserve the life of your electronic caller.
One of the main reason you need to carry the electronic call in a bag is it will make it easier to carry everything you need to the calling site. Keep a few of your calling sounds in the bag in the event your tape or CD malfunctions or you want to change from a food sound to distress sound. Remember to disconnect the speaker jack from the machine when it is not in use to prevent damage this delicate area. If you snap a wire off at the sound source the call is ruined.
You will make less noise using a bag. Speakers will not clang and wires will not get caught on bushes. In bad weather it will protect the CD or cassette from snow, dirt and other debris. You can keep the sound source in the bag and place only the speaker outside in the elements.
Off-season you can use the bag to store your electronic calling device.
Calling for predators
While calling, watch for reactions and sounds from crows and other wild life.
If you see crows starting to circle out from areas where you are calling, these areas could be over nearby woodlots or tree lines, this is a good sign a predator might be responding to your call. Be prepared for a predator to show themselves shortly there after.
Also, listen for the sound of geese and/or ducks as they take off from ponds and or streams near your calling area. They too may have been spooked by an incoming predator responding to your call.
I have seen red and gray fox show up to my calling almost immediately after waterfowl have taken off.
Sometimes a rabbit running close to your position may mean a fox is on his way in to your calling position as well. I have seen this happen many times; a cotton-tail would pass my position and soon there after the red fox would appear.
Anytime other wildlife is acting out of the ordinary, be ready because a predator may respond to your calling and show themselves shortly there after.
What rifle scope to go with
You will be able to see better at nighttime with a scope with an objective of 40 MM or more. Stay away from the 32 MM objective.
The 50 MM objective can really gather the light, but normally the scope eye piece is so large that you will need to mount it really high.
I like to have my scope mounted flush and inline just above the barrel. That is why I use the 40 MM objective scope for nighttime predator rifle shooting. Remember, the more objective your scope has the more light it will gather.
Posted on 23. Jan, 2014 by Stephen.
The best results will be attained when hunting at night if you do the following.
Use a red lens on a dark night and a yellow lens over snow during dark conditions and when the moon is full. You will not only be able to see better, but you will also bag more predators.
Electronic calling speakers
Remember most times a predator will get in direct line with the electronic calling speaker. You can use this to your advantage.
Out smart even the smartest predators by making them work the speaker. Instead of facing the speaker down wind, place the speaker facing up wind. The coyote or the fox will get in direct line with the speaker. Then it will circle down wind of the speaker to see if the distress sound is legitimate.
A wise hunter (shooter) will post 100 down wind of the speaker or caller. When the coyote circles down wind to smell the distress sound, it may circle above the hunter at 60 to 80 yards down wind of the electronic speaker.
The coyote will not smell the hunter who at 100 yards below the speaker can take a shot undetected. The hunter will be 20 yards farther down wind where the coyote circles and will not be detected by human scent. Why will the coyote not smell the hunter? The coyote will not smell the hunter because the coyote will be up wind of the down wind hunter.
Before departing an area after using an electronic sound always try about 5 minutes of hand or mouth calling. Sometimes the electronic sound will get the interest of a predator but not enough to make them enter an area.
However, once you make a field mouse distress, cotton-tail rabbit, woodpecker distress, or pupsqueal the fox will run right in for a look see. Some hunters let there electronic sounds only run for 12 to 15 minutes before departing. I let my electronic sounds run for 30 minutes and then do another 5 minutes on a hand or mouth call before departing. Just be ready when doing this they come in fast when they hear the hand or mouth distress sound.
All predator callers should have two calls in their battery, the closed reed predator call and the open reed predator call.
It is a lot easier to master the closed reed predator call then the open reed predator call. The closed reed cottontail rabbit distress for example has a voice channel inside the call. All you have to do is blow into the call and make the sound WAW WAW WAW. You can add some realism to the call by cupping your hands over the end of the barrel and then open and close your hand to muffle or to change the tone.
The closed reed call is fine to use in fall, spring and summer. However in winter the voice channel will freeze rendering it useless.
It takes a little more practice to be an accomplish predator hunter with the open reed call. The open reed call is a universal call. It looks just like the mouth piece of a Saxophone and it will not freeze up in subzero temperatures. In most cases it can be used to make cottontail, jackrabbit, woodpecker, field mouse distress sounds. It can also be used to make coyote talk…Barks, Howls, and Whines. It is also outstanding for doing puppy whines.