Night Hunting for For Coyotes and Predators|
Depending upon which state you live in, night hunting might be an excellent chance for you to expand your hunting opportunities. Since the laws for taking game at night can vary wildly from state to state, it pretty well goes without saying that you should check with your local game commission or law enforcement office before making any plans. Assuming you’ve got the regulations nailed down and the interest to give it a shot, it’s then time to arm yourself with some basic knowledge.
Despite anything you may have heard or been told, night hunting is not “easy”, and nor is it simply a matter of shining a light on an animal thinking it will freeze in place and conveniently allow you to take shots at it. Hunting at night has both its advantages and its disadvantages and it is best to have a clear understanding of them before you attempt a night hunt.
There are a lot of reasons to give night hunting a try, besides trying out your new spotlight. Many predators are more active during the evening and late night hours. Many varmint and nuisance animals are more active as well. Just a few of these includes coyotes, raccoons, fox, and hogs, all of which are commonly hunted at night. Likewise, human tend to be less active at night, which means many of these animals are going to be less wary and cautious, giving you some small advantage when preparing to hunt them. As far as conditions go, at night the wind is usually calmer, which means less chance of the wind picking up your scent and alerting wary prey to your presence. There’s a comfort factor involved as well, with temperatures being cooler and less humidity, which makes sitting in a stand for hours on end much more bearable than if it were say, ninety degrees outside.
For drawbacks, there are a few worth making good note of. First and foremost is the safety issue. With less light available to see by, identifying your targets and the surrounding terrain is going to be much more difficult. Extra care has to be taken to make certain that any shots you take are safe, and that the targets you go after are indeed the intended game. Additionally, if you are hunting with a partner, it’s a good idea to have a good system worked out so you both know exactly where the other is at all times. Night hunting also requires a bit of extra gear that is going have to be transported somehow, most likely on your back or in a bag. This means you’ll have to spend a little more time when preparing your gear and making certain that you don’t burden yourself with so much of a load that you tire yourself to quickly.
Preparing for a night hunt is of course going to require some gear you normally wouldn’t need to bother with. First and foremost, particularly with predators such as coyotes, you’ll need an effective spotlight. The most popular spotlight rigs consist of rechargeable units equipped with a red lens. The idea here is to be able to illuminate and identify targets without spooking them. Since the general consensus is that bright white light is simply too intense and jarring and will spook animals too easily, alternate colors such are red, green and blue are employed. The belief is that these colors are less visible to predators and some varmints and thus wont spook them as easily. While there is some argument as to the facts behind all this, the one thing you cannot argue with is success. The majority of hunters going after predators and varmints at night employ red lens equipped spotlights with great success, so the general recommendation is to go with red as your first choice when starting out.
When choosing spotlight, it isn’t so much the giant candlepower numbers you are looking for as it is the lumen output and how well the reflector assembly casts a beam. Look for spotlights that have a dedicated red lens that can be removed if needed, but allows little if any white light to “spill” past. Although night hunting generally means shooting at shorter distances, you’ll still want a spotlight that puts out a well concentrated beam out to at least 300 feet. Avoid spotlights that become fuzzy or unfocused at distance. They may be bright, but brightness is poor compensation if the light becomes fuzzy and diffused at your shooting range. One of the more popular hunting lights is Larson Electronicss’ RL-85-HID-RED hunting spotlight. With a runtime of 2.5 hours and an integrated red lens, this light is more than up to the job and will save you a lot of hassle if you simply want to find one that will work and let you get on with your hunting.
Once you have your gear figured out, actually engaging in the hunt is next. Quite a bit different than daylight hunting, night hunting usually entails locating a good position and setting up your gear, then working your calls and spotlight either in tandem or alternately. There are a lot of different techniques, but the general idea here is to keep yourself as unobtrusive as possible, bring the animals in close enough to range, and use your spotlight to locate and target them. Generally, many hunters will work their calls for a couple minutes, then begin using their spotlight in a slow and deliberate scanning motion, working an area 360 degrees around their position. Keeping the light at just over horizon level, the idea is to illuminate the animals eyes and locate them by eyeshine. Once located, the light should not be suddenly moved fully onto the animal, but rather kept just far enough on them to keep their eyes lit up. It’s only when the animal is within range and you feel comfortable taking the shot that you should then move to put the animal fully within the spotlight beam for the kill.
Taken overall, night hunting can be something of an art to master. If your local regulations allow it however, it can be a great way to hone and improve your skills as well as add to your list of hunting opportunities.