10 beginners' tips for
Small predators hunting
Small predator lure hunting is an interesting form of hunting. Active luring is used to attract a predator to the scene by imitating the distress call of a small animal.
Luring an animal is effective, because then the target is certain to be nearby. In general, we are talking about luring small predators: a fox or a raccoon dog can just as easily be the prey. Luring a raccoon dog by whistling is not significantly different to luring a fox. For a raccoon dog, shriller and brighter whistles work better. A strong rabbit scream may even frighten a raccoon dog. There are a few basic things to consider when lure hunting to attract small predators and, if you pay attention to them, the likelihood of catching them increases. This topic is close to our heart as it is an essential part of any wildlife conservation plan ensuring the maintenance of a good ecosystem balance and biodiversity. It can also contribute to the conservation and protection of certain spieces of birds or small mammels in specific geographical areas. So here is our take on what to pay attention to if you want to get involved in predator hunting.
Use you senses: Observation
The basis of everything is knowing where small predators prey and move. In winter, snow tracks are easy indicators of any signs of activity where predators could be potentially moving, and game cameras can be used during the thaw. Pigsties and chicken runs as well as fields surrounded by woods are veritable magnets for predators.
Putting in the time to understand their behavior is critical to ensure success in predators hunting and pest control.
Be aware of environmental conditions
Small predators can be lured throughout the hunting season or year round, depending on where you live and your local regulations. Early in the season, cubs react crazily to a whistle. In autumn, frogs and other food become scarce, so predators are interested in an easy meal. Small predators are active in the twilight, so the best times to lure them are at dawn and dusk. In the early hours, it's worth dragging yourself out of bed while it's still dark.
Luring starts as soon as you can see a shot, vey often it happens about an hour before sunrise. In the evening, you can start luring them at sunset and continue as long as there is enough light to shoot. In winter, in Finland, we are lucky enough to have snow so you could potentially hunt all night in the moonlight. it is quite a unique experience but if you don't get along too well with cold temperatures, we'd advise you to think twice before heading out on an overnight hunt. And to be honest, we rarely do it too.
When it rains, small predators do not move about. A slight breeze is always good because it dulls the scent of the hunter and carries the odours in just one direction. In strong winds, the sound of the luring whistle doesn't travel very far.
Spot and mark specific locations
A good spot for watching is, for example, the tip of a forest or the wooded corner of a field. A ditch concealed by bushes also works very well. The edges of logging pits and bushes on the shores of frozen bays are good places. The wind direction usually determines where it is best to watch. When choosing a location, you must ensure a safe shooting sector. There must be no buildings or farm animals in the shooting direction. Also, select the adequate firearm and ammunition to suit the watch location.
It is important to take wind conditions into account. Small predators tend to move downwind in an attempt to track down the source of the sound and scent. The predator that has caught a small prey may be a member of the same species, in which case it may be worth seeking a dividend in the hope of an easy meal.
On a lure watch, position yourself upwind. The aim is to shoot the animal as it seeks the scent while circling the hunter. It is therefore essential for there to be a wide open area downwind. The predator must be obviously shot before it can scent the hunter. Watching must be done so that the approaching predator does not pick up your scent.
Embrace the art of blending in
A predator will use all its senses to try to find the source of the lure. It is extremely important for the hunter to blend in with the environment. You should choose a hunting outfit that blends in with the environment. The white face of a person shines out like a warning sign to a predator. It is essential to camouflage your face and hands. There are many available options in camouflage gear nowadays to help you blend in the particular area you are hunting. Just go check your local outdoors, hunting gear shop to ask for recommendations.
Take it slow and move quietly
All movements must be extremely slow. Sneaking to and from the watch location must be done as carefully as possible. Light should be used only as much as is absolutely necessary. You should position yourself so that you can stay in the same position for half an hour without having to change it very much.
Before starting the lure, your rifle should be pointed in the direction of the predator’s expected trajectory, placed on a shooting rest, practically ready to fire.
Pick up your firearm of choice
You can use a rifle and a fast, lightweight, plastic-tipped or hollow point bullet for that purpose. We have developed the Gamehead Varmint RX for that particular purpose. Its killing power will be good even from a weaker hit. The bullet is reasonably safe for the environment, as it disintegrates on impact with a small predator or the ground. As for a scope, we recommend to look at a scope that allows you to get a good sight picture and rapid target acquisition, with high quality lenses allowing you to see in dim lighting.
Navigating the vast choice of lures
There are dozens of different types of small-predator whistles on the market. Most of them are intended to be used to mimic the distress call of a prey. Mouse whistles imitate the squeak of a mouse. The squeak of a mouse can also be produced by a dog’s squeaky toy or rubbing polystyrene against glass. Distress whistles are used to produce a scream that mimics the call of a predator in distress. You can find whistles that produce different sounds of various intensities.
In windy weather, a louder and more powerful rabbit distress whistle can be blown in a large clearing. In calm weather and in a confined space, the distress whistle of a smaller animal works better. If the noise is too loud, the small predator may even be frightened off, so begin with caution. When foxes are in heat, luring can be enhanced with a whistle that mimics the fox’s own call.
Practice your luring skills
Using a lure whistle takes practice. There are two types of basic whistles: open- and closed-tongue. Open-tongued whistles are more challenging to blow, but give a wider range of different sounds. Closed-tongue whistles are easier to use, but you need more than one to get the same sound repertoire. A closed-tongue whistle is blown with a humming sound formed in the chest and throat. At the same time, counter-pressure is applied with the hand, which gives a more lively sound.
A bird's cry of distress is formed by "chirping" on the whistle with the tongue on the palate. You can learn how to whistle by taking courses or watching videos on YouTube, for example.
Follow a whistling session pattern
One whistling session lasts 20–30 minutes. In the morning or evening, you can have two or three sessions in different places. Luring can start either with a normal whistle or a mouse whistle. After a few minutes of luring, you can switch to a bright, small-animal distress whistle. It is worth varying the intensity of distress calls. Try to think of the reaction of an animal in the teeth of a predator: sometimes a steady cry and sometimes a whimper. After a while, you can switch to a louder rabbit whistle whose sound carries further.
If the target is a raccoon dog, it is not worth using a strong rabbit's scream. Change the whistles a few times during the session to try and find the sound to which the predators react to. One day it may be a mouse squeak, the next a bird's distress call and the next a small animal’s distress call. You can take small breaks in between blowing. It takes time for the predator to arrive at the lure, so even if there is no immediate movement, the prey may still be on its way.