Back then, added to a little knowledge of the animals, it was enough.
Coyotes weren't around yet, so calling was for foxes, and most kills were greys, because grey fox aren't very smart and would come to a call readily. I still remember one night on a long ago raccoon hunt when I was standing on an old railroad track waiting for the hound to pick up a scent. I tuned up a rabbit squeal and within minutes had two greys right on the track with me. Only one left. Greys are scarce now, especially in northern parts, and perhaps calls are the reason.
Red fox were much smarter and tougher to bring in. When I called one out of the brush, it tended to hang up at 50 to 75 yards, dance round a bit looking, then circle until it caught my scent, and leave abruptly. I also called in three deer one afternoon (curious?), a great horned owl that managed to put on its brakes right over my head, and even a daylight roaming raccoon. The calls worked, but today the animals seem more sophisticated or perhaps have had experienced calls before, and other than young coyotes born just last spring, they seem to require some refinements in technique.
For example, a visit to any large sporting goods store will turn up calls of many kinds these days. There are mouth calls, hand-helds, and a variety of electronic calls that are battery operated and becoming ever more popular. The beauty of these calls is that you can hide them in a bit of grass or brush 15 or 20 yards away and they'll produce perfect calls that sound exactly like what they're supposed to. Better yet, an incoming coyote or fox will be concentrating on the calls and is much less likely to see you.
If you favor inexpensive hand helds, carry a pup distress call, along with whines, howls, and aggressive barks since most coyotes particularly, are territorial and will come to see who's invading their territory. A rabbit squeal is still good, especially for young and always hungry animals who haven't experienced hunters yet. A fawn bleat can draw predators too, especially in late winter when does are dropping their young.
Coyotes have been found to prey heavily on very young fawns, and when hunting in a family pack can take one away from even a protective doe.
Don't forget a mouse squeak for those quiet nights or days when sound carries well, and once you set up for a hunt, remember to start with low volume to call in any close range animals, then gradually increase the sound.
Decoys are becoming popular too, and a light one made of Styrofoam or plastic is easy to carry.
Young coyotes will often race toward a coyote decoy placed in the open near your ground blind and older ones will often come too, planning to chase away the intruder.
At the least use an attractant of some kind, maybe a feather or light chicken wing on a stake and string. Dancing around in a light breeze, it will draw curious foxes as well as coyotes.
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Hooks & bullets
• Bald eagles wee once a rare bird indeed in Ohio, but they're fairly common now, and winter is a great time to be on the lookout for them, especially since leaves are gone from trees and they're visible at a goodly distance. During winter, bald eagles follow the food (mostly fish) and if a favored lake or stream freezes over, they'll migrate a bit in search of open water. So, look for them near dams and larger lakes and reservoirs that are free of ice. Towards the latter part of winter, eagles begin nesting activity and can begin to lay eggs as early as late January
• Other than at hunt clubs, pheasant hunting opportunities are scarce indeed in Ohio. Which is why some avid bird hunters travel to South Dakota, Nebraska, and other more western states to hunt ringnecks. This year the news is particularly good in South Dakota. According to the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP), this years pheasant brood survey showed a 47 percent increase over last year. For more information, Google up the GFP people, or call 605-223-7660.
• Plastic is fast becoming the curse of our environment, but at least one project, The Ocean Cleanup, is currently out to sea to address the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge collection of floating plastic trash that's three times the size of France. Eighty percent of marine debris is because of improperly disposed waste, and three states, Hawaii, Washington and California have banned plastic bags. What can you do to help? Bring your own shopping, bag, carry a reusable water bottle, and refuse disposable straws in restaurants.
• Outdoor enthusiasts interested in learning to prepare and can white-tailed deer meat are encouraged to attend a free informational seminar on Wednesday, Jan. 23, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The seminar will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Antwerp Conservation Club, located at 17814 Road 53, Antwerp. Trained professionals from the ODNR Division of Wildlife and Antwerp Conservation Club will cover topics including how to pressure can venison, a great way to save freezer space and preserve meat, and how to make venison jerky, which is a delicious way to use leftover meat from a previous season. Wild game smoking techniques and additional venison preparation recipes will also be shared. The program is free of charge, but preregistration is required by January 18, as space is limited. Interested individuals can register by calling Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321 For more information on venison meal preparation and other wild game recipes, visit the Wild Ohio Cookbook at wildohio.gov.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.