By Heath Wood
Some predator hunters think the winter months are the prime time to hunt. The cold winter temperatures make for hungry predators who respond to calling better. Mainly, hunters pursue furbearers such as coyotes, foxes and bobcats through the winter because their furs are paramount during this time of year. The hardcore predator hunters hunt the entire year, even during the hottest part of the summer. They feed their passion by taking advantage of coyotes, who also respond to calling during the summer months. The spring of the year is a time to regroup and get ready for the next season of predator hunting, no matter which category of predator hunter one identifies as.
Shooting Prep and Practice
One of the most common tasks for predator hunters during the off-season is to make any necessary changes to their weapons. There are many things that a predator hunter may want or need to change, yet they do not want to do it in the middle of the season, as this could mess up their chance of harvesting more predators. Often, hunters recap their season and read notes on what changes are needed to make their weapon perform the best to its ability. The month-long or more period when most predator hunters take a break is an excellent time to head to the shooting range. Spending time at the range can be ideal to ensure everything on a firearm is working properly and is performing to the hunter's specific standards. The off-time is when adding or changing shooting accessories, optics or ammunition choices should also be completed.
I often visit the range or practice shooting at home three to four times a week for approximately a month during the off-season. Spending time at the range is also a great time to get in some practice that may have been put on the back burner throughout the hunting season. When shooting at the range, I try to shoot using my Swagger Bipods, be it the Hunter Series or the QD42 Quick Detach bipods, and when practicing at home, I use them every time. Using the same bipods while practicing that I do when hunting, I am confident that I can make a successful shot when it comes time to hunt predators.
Planning Out Hunts
After verifying that all firearms are intact and shooting correctly, the next step is planning for the next year of predator hunting. Planning the next hunt can involve a couple of different scenarios. The setup for the next year could involve planning any travel arrangements to hunt in another state. The off-season is an excellent time to purchase hunting permits, book lodging, or book an outfitted hunt. Everything is done before the hunting season begins; the hunter is prepared and less stressed when the season is in full swing. Another plan for subsequent hunts is to scout and gain permission from the area to be hunted most of the year. During the off-season, especially the spring and early summer, I like to do an abundance of scouting. I use a GPS app such as OnX Maps to search new areas, gain access to new properties, and mark areas where I have encountered coyote activity or heard howling. By creating a game plan months before hunting, the hunter is more prepared and ready to hunt when the season begins.