How to Manage Predators on Your Hunting Property

By Brodie SwisherMarch 29, 2024

Managing predators on your hunting property means more than the occasional pot-shot at a coyote during deer season. Sure, that’s a fun, and slightly helpful tactic for reducing numbers, but there must be more to your management plan. Predator management won’t come easy. There’s some serious work involved if you want to move the needle and see more deer and turkeys hanging out on your hunting property. But when you put forth the effort, you will soon reap the rewards of a solid predator management plan on your property.

Read on for a look at how to make it happen.

3 Coyote

Trapping Predators

There was a time when a man could make more money trapping critters for their fur in his spare time than he’d make working all week at his day job. However, those days have come and gone. The fur market is not what it once was. In fact, it can be tough to find a buyer for the coons that once brought really good money. So these days, trapping has shifted more from the price of furs to the need for management.  

When the trapping business tanked, predators of all kinds were essentially given the green light to roam wild and free. And that’s just what they did. With no threat from hunters, or any other predators in the woods, critters like coyotes and coons have made a pretty good living off the small game animals and birds they share the land with. Regardless of what you may hear, no fawn or turkey nest is safe when these predators have grown to abundance. They need to managed, and trapping is still one of the best ways to make it happen.

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

The Best Trap for Coyotes

When it comes to coyotes, it’s hard to beat a trap the like the 550 from Duke Traps. The Duke Pro Series 550 OS is built with heavy cast steel jaws, stainless steel rod dog with step down PIT pan system and double base plate. It’s built tough and rugged for serious coyote trapping year after year. The trap will cost you about $20 each. And like fishing, the more lines you have out there, the better your chances are for success. Buy 4 or 5 traps so you can adequately cover a small farm and snatch multiple coyotes when you make your move. 

When it comes to bait, some guys recommend the absolute stinkiest stuff on the planet. I’ve tried it. If you’re not careful, your hands will stink for days. My buddy, Scott Braham, got me started using a product he’s had  lof of success with over the years. It’s called Locklear’s Federales Bait Solution. The solution works anywhere in the country for coyotes, bobcats, fox and even coons. 

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

How to Use Federales Bait Solution

Federales Bait Solution should be mixed into a gallon of ground meat.  You can use whatever meat base you prefer: beaver, bobcat, muskrat, mice, gophers, ground hogs, beef, etc.

This bait solution already has preservative in it. You simply mix the solution in the meat base of your choice. Use an oversized container or open the lid every day for a week to let the bait gas off until the preservative finishes its work. 

Coyotes can be tough to catch. They are pretty slick creatures. But if you keep your trap clean and authentic looking, you’ll eventually find success.

How to Catch a Coon?

Fortunately, catching coons is a much easier endeavor. The popular “coon cuff” style traps make the job of managing coons easier than ever. The traps are quick and easy to set and don’t have to be blended in or hidden from the eyes of coons. 

They are priced similar to coyote traps with options available from $16 – $20. These cylinder-style traps are designed to “cuff” a coon’s leg when it sticks it down in the hole to grab grub. It’s genius! 

You can buy the Federales Bait Solution mentioned above, or go with a cheap bag of cat food, tuna, marshmallows, bubble gum, or most anything else. Coons ain’t picky. They’ll try and grab most anything if they think they can eat it. And it’s not just coons. ‘Possums and skunks are fair  game, too. They all do their share of raiding nests, and they need managed through trapping. 

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

Calling Predators

If you prefer hunting your predators over trapping them, you’ve got plenty of options there as well. Few hunts are as exciting as when you call a predator to your setup. When you consider the fact that he’s coming to kill and eat what he’s hearing – you – it makes for an adrenaline-packed endeavor.

Predators come charging hard to the distress sounds of rabbits, rodents, birds or fawn deer. Seldom will you find that the species makes much difference. Just keep the wind in your favor and present the sound of something in distress. 

There’s a wide variety of calls on the market. And while mouth calls and hand calls have their charm, electronic callers (e-callers) are easily the call of choice these days. E-callers give you the ability to place the prey sounds away from you, so you are not so easily picked off and pinpointed. You can also place the call in such a way as to give you an advantage with coyote’s circling down wind. 

FoxPro offers the widest range of calling sounds to play through their sophisticated callers. They are built tough, deliver incredible volume and clarity, and can handle all the sounds you care to load. And don’t think you can’t call coons to the bow or gun with an e-caller. Coon sounds loaded in the FoxPro will bring enraged coons from their den and charging the call like nothing else. It makes for some really exciting shooting opportunities as well.

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

Decoys for Predators

Pair a decoy with your e-caller and you’ll have a deadly combination that few coyotes or cats can resist. Predators respond to the audial sounds of the caller, but once they have a visual on what they’ve heard, it’s usually game over. FoxPro offers decoys that are compatible with their e-callers, but you can also employ stand-alone decoys like the Mojo Super Critter or Fuzzy Critter. These decoys run off AA batteries and deliver the erratic spinning and twirling motion that draws a predator in tight. 

Want to try bowhunting predators? Read HERE

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

Hunting Predators with Thermal Imaging

Where legal, thermal imaging equipment can be among the deadliest means of culling a few predators from the farm you’ll find anywhere. A lot of people confuse thermal imaging with night vision. They are different. Night vision amplifies the already available ambient light from the moon and stars to create a brighter image in your optics so you can see at night. Thermal optics use a sophisticated lens made of Germanium crystals in conjunction with an infrared detector and core processor to pick up heat energy and transfer it to an image on a digital screen. 

Night vision is strictly for nighttime use. Thermal optics can be used day or night. Thermal optics give hunters the ability to see and identify a predator in pitch black from a mile away. They are absolute poison when it comes to leveling the playing field on predators. Again, check your local regulations for the legal use of thermal imaging where you hunt.

How To Manage Predators On Your Hunting Property

But before you get too excited at the thermal imaging option, you need to know that it is by far the most expensive method in our bag of tricks for maintaining predators. The Trijicon REAP-IR mini thermal riflescope is a small, rugged, and powerful thermal riflescope that lets you engage targets in any light. How much is it? The unit is priced at $7,209. 

But, you get what you pay for, right? If you can swing the hefty price tag on thermal optics, you’ll find them to be one of the most exciting things you can do in the dark at night. 

Creating Better Habitat

Despite all your best efforts with predator control, if your farm does not have suitable habitat for nesting hen turkeys, or for the fawns of whitetail deer, you will struggle to hold the critters you desire the most on your land. If you build it, they will come. You must create the ideal habitat critters prefer for bringing new life into the world. They have to have ground that is ideal for them, and less desirable for the predators that pursue them. 

What To Do If You Get Bit By A Snake

In an article for Mossyoak.com, Dennis Daniels, NWTF director of conservation operations, wrote…

“We spend countless hours and plenty of money planting food plots and planning improvements to attract wildlife. Unfortunately, many plans miss an essential ingredient to ensure healthy bird populations — quality brood habitat. The better the habitat we provide for poults and chicks, the more adult turkeys and quail will survive. Predators find it tougher to prey on turkey and quail broods when the habitat provides good escape cover. Maintaining more acres of brood habitat widens the area predators have to search, reducing their success at finding those tender morsels.” 

Want more critters on your land? Create the habitat they need to survive, and do your part to reduce the predators around your game animals by trapping and hunting. It’s a fun and exciting way to directly impact the conservation process for the future of your farm and family.  

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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