When I first started out down the path of learning the black art of predator calling, there were some good references with respect to the primary equipment used by predator hunters. Lots and lots of stuff on calls and weapons and such, but as I began to accumulate a bit of experience, I quickly learned that there are some lesser-discussed pieces of equipment that I now find invaluable. That is what this section of CoyoteCanada.ca is all about...those little things that can make a big difference!
A drag rope is an essential piece of equipment. Nothing more complex than a rope with a loop in the end, it makes the task of collecting and transporting a dead coyote so much easier! I either loop the front legs and head where I will then haul the coyote by the free end of the rope, or I'll loop all four legs and then carry the coyote like a purse.
Binoculars can make such a difference to your predator hunting success that they probably warrent their own section on this website, however I hunted long enough without them that I have a hard time classifying them as essential. Most predators have exceptional eyesight, and the north american coyote is no different. Binoculars help even up the gap between a coyote's visual accuity and our own, but they do this in more ways than you might imagine. In addition to the obvious advantage of being able to resolve smaller objects at greater distances, probably the single biggest advantages of using binoculars comes from the simple truth that you must be reasonably still to use them. Time spent studying terrain with your binoculars significantly cuts down on your own movement; something that experience is trying to teach me is the single biggest avenue to detection by the coyote or whatever else you are looking for. How do you use your binoculars? There is more to it than you might imagine, as they can also be a liability if you spend too much time behind them while calling. I like to think of two different applications for binoculars when predator hunting.
The first is for careful, meticulous study of your surroundings when you are either stationary for a long period of time or extremely slowly slipping through terrain. You use the binoculars to study hard. When I say study, that is the literal truth. Not merely glassing over vast tracts of topography, but studying the details of vegetation and other terrain features, and how it all interacts as a whole. This type of binocular use is painfully slow as well as seriously fatiguing, but worth every last second of th effort. You will wind up seeing things you never dreamed possible, and have a higher probability of remaining undetected as a result of your seriously handicapped pace.
I can recall many memorable events that were a direct result of this practice, however one stands out in particular. It was a late winter day, and very mild in that the Chinook had been blowing for several weeks and there was no snow left on the ground. When conditions are like this around my neck of the woods, calling becomes more difficult as prey sources become more abundant and easily had by the coyotes. As such, I had given up the calls for still hunting, and was slowly making my way through a vast expance of gently rolling grassland punctuated with potentillia, rose, and willow bushes. I was moving slower than usual, and was making an effort to hug the terrain and light...in essence sliding through the fringe of the open grassland and areas of slightly higher bush density. The wind was stiff in my face, and I would stop every step or two to study very carefuly my surroundings. I watched the dried grass dance in the wind and the willows casting long shadows as the light slowly shifted throughout the afternoon.
And then I saw it. A patch of fur twitching in the wind...and it was close. I studied harder through my binoculars, and after a few moments was able to make out rippling muscles of a mule deer that completely flooded my field of view through my glass. Slowly lowering the binoculars, the bedded mule deer was less than 10 yards away. Careful study of the surrounding terrain ensued over the next 30 minutes revealed many more deer laying down all around. ALL AROUND. I was in awe, as I had never encountered so many deer so close to me before, and the big rush was that they were completely unaware of my presence. All the planets had lined up just right, and my binoculars had played a key role not only in that they allowed me to eventually detect the bedded mule deer, but the "step-study" style of glassing had slowed my movement through the terrain sufficient that I remained off their radar long enough to see them before they perceived me. In this application of your binoculars, slower is definately better.
The second type of glassing that I have found very useful is when I am calling on a stand. Prior to starting to call, I will have usually employed the first technique for approximately 10 to 15 minutes to gain a sort of latent awareness of the terrain, however once I start to call I spend much less dedicated time behind the glass as the wide-angle perspective of unmagnified vision is so useful for detecting movement covering a large field of view. I will only use the binoculars briefly to quickly study things of interest. I might sometimes scan with the binoculars, but much more quickly such that I balance about equally the time I spend looking at things through glass verses the time I take it all in with the naked eye. So what types of features are important when buying binoculars? As I spend so much time behind my glass, I tend to follow a very similar school of thought to my scope buying practices. Every dollar extra you can scrimp together for your binoculars is honestly worth it. With that out of the way, let's look at some of the features that I think are useful with respect to selecting a pair of binoculars. The first thing to consider is the amount of light the binoculars let in. This is important as the more time you spend behind your binoculars, the more fatigued your eyes get. Larger objective lens diameters help alleviate this strain and make the whole process of careful study through your binoculars much more enjoyable. About the minimum objective diameter I considered is 32mm.
The next important feature to consider is magnification. Some people advocate the higher the power, the better, however this comes at the cost of weight. While I am willing to carry around the extra weight, I find it difficult to stabalize the heavier binoculars for long periods of time...succumbing to sufficient muscle fatigue such that I glass less with heavier binos than I do with lighter ones. Thus I find myself drawn binoculars in the medium sized 8 power or 10 power class.
From here, the sales guy is going to move onto the realm of coatings. Here I am not an expert, however what I do recommend is spending a couple hours at the store looking through the various price ranged binoculars that have the objective size, size, and magnification which meets your needs. You will soon find out what you prefer and that in general, you get what you pay for.
Now that you have shot your monster 50lb coyote you have to hump 2km back to your vehicle or the nearest tree-like object to easily case skin the poor bugger! Dragging a coyote this far even over soft grassland can not only be extremely tiring, it can cause all kinds of grief with the precious hide of that gorgeous coyote. A drag rope is an excellent solution to this quandry. Nothing more than a length of rope approximately 1 to 2 meters in length is all that is required here. The rope has a slipping loop tied in either one or both ends. One end is slipped around the head and front legs of the coyote, and if the second loop is used it is looped around the rear legs of the coyote. Using both loops like this, you can toss the middle of the rope over your shoulder and carry that coyote like a purse. By only looping the front legs and head, you can drag the coyote with very little touching the ground. My prefered method is the double-loop purse method, but only if I have the next item on my list confidently taken care of.
Ok...so your looking down your scope at an ultra-prime coyote and stop for a second to marvel at the beauty of this creature before putting in progress the means to collect your fur. The dymanics of the stand and memories of the shot process are processing through your head as you cover the 275 yards from your shot location to the dead coyote. You get there and after offering a moment of silent prayer for the spirit of your quarry break out the drag rope, tie the coyote up and proceed to make your way back. Wait a minute...what's that slightly crawling feeling on the back of your neck?
Coyotes are like large cruise ships for all kinds of strange travellers. You can bet your bottom dollar that there are more where this came from! Trust me...I can tell you from experience that you do not want your significant other discovering one of these in the bed.
This is why I carry a can of raid with me in my backpack and use it liberally on any coyote I am lucky enough to take. When I get the pelt off the coyote, I'll give the whole nine yards an additional dose of Raid and toss the whole nine yards into a garbage bag to sit for at least a couple of hours. As they are so mobile and have such an interesting life cycle, fleas are extremely difficult to get rid of. A female flea will bite a warm blooded animal, disembark the mother ship (her host) to lay eggs. The eggs can lay dormant for years, waiting for the right conditions to hatch, and when they do small larvae emerge and root around the carpet for dead organic matter to gain the required energy for their pupae stage and chrysalis into adult fleas. The pupae can also stay dormant for long periods of time, waiting until they sense heat or vibration before hatching and sending a ravinous flea in search of the source of whatever has aroused them from their stasis. With so many different phases to their lives, once they are reproducing in your home, they will be very difficult to get rid of. I try to head this off at the pass so to speak with an aggressive chemical weapons assault coupled with careful handling of my hunting clothing and a shower immediately upon my return home.
Nothing more than a piece of 1/2 inch dowling with two eyelets affixed about an inch and a half from each end and a double bowline tied through the eyes, a small homebuilt gambrel can make short work of case skinning your coyote in the field. I have one in my backpack at all times and use it frequently in conjunction with a tree or fencepost to get that hide off the coyote.
A gambrel will allow you to skin your coyote on the spot if there are trees or a fencepost handy.
Another really useful thing to have...especially if you want to field skin your coyote without using your teeth.
Looking for easy cleanup so you can go out for a bite to eat without looking like an axe murderer as you make your way tot he washroom? At $10.00 for 100, zip over to your locak drugstore and pick up some latex gloves. They make for quick cleanup after doing all that dirty skinning work.
Clothing is important. The longer you are able to stay comfortable in whatever conditions you are calling in, the more you are going to get out and call. Staying dry and having the ability to shed or add layers is the key up here in Canada where some of the best conditions to get out and call include -30 degrees C!
Coming soon! Information about developing a photographic record of your outdoor adventures.