The first varmint hunting site on the net! The Riverside Varmint Callers maintains this webpage for the benefit of all varmint and predator hunters.
There are as many different ways to varmint call as there are varmint hunters.
A predators sense of hearing is many more times as sensitive as a human's.
They can hear things from a surprising distance. A few calls on a loud long
range call in all directions can bring in predators from as far as a mile
away if the conditions are right. One calling technique that works is to
start calling very softly. Not too loud at first in case there's an animal
close by. After what seems to be an acceptable amount of time without seeing
anything, maybe 10 minutes or so of intermittent calling, it may help to
increase the volume of your calls. Keep a good lookout for any signs of movement.
Don't move around too much yourself as most predators have keen eyesight.
They key in on movement, sound and smell. If you have to make a move, try
to do so very slowly. Don't make any abrupt movements. If the predator is
looking your way when you do he'll make you out for sure. All you'll see
is his back end as he high tails it out of there. If you've done your calling
and still nothing has responded, don't give up yet. The last thing to do
before giving up completely is to stand up and move around while looking
for the animal. Be at the ready with your rifle as many times the animal
will have responded to your call but you just haven't seen him yet. When
revealing yourself by standing up and moving around, the animal sometimes
does the same.
One of the problems in using a hand call is that the animal cues in on the
sound as well as movement. He will be looking at the source of the sound
and this makes it difficult for the hunter to make any movements without
being detected. Then too you don't have eyes in the back of your head so
you can't see if anything is coming in behind you. As a general rule, the
predator will first circle the source of the sound attempting to get down
wind for a sniff. He'll usually stop a couple of times before getting downwind
of you and this is the best time to get him. If he makes it down wind before
you get the shot he won't stick around for long. Using some kind of scent
to mask your smell can help. One way to overcome this problem is to have
two people sitting back to back while one does the calling. If you set yourself
up in a bush with maybe 20 or 30 Yds of clearing around you, it can help
immensely as this gives you a chance to see the animal before it gets too
close. If you have to hunt in thick brush then its best to use a shotgun.
Use #4 Buck as it has between 28 - 42 pellets in roughly .22 caliber. Very
effective. Some people prefer 00 Buck but I can't personally recommend using
this loading as it has a lot less pellets than #4 Buck. Your odds of missing
are greater with the less dense shot pattern. A coyote or bobcat is a lot
smaller target than a deer. I've had by far the greatest successes when using
#4 Buck than with any other loading. Dense brush close in varmint calling
can be the perfect opportunity for the handgun shooter. A handgun is easily
maneuvered in the brush and quick with aiming, just what you need in thick
brush where the animal is in close. Use a good stopper like the 10mm, .357
Mag or .44 Mag with light bullets. Try using Magsafe or Glazer ammo and they
won't run too far after you hit them. Thompson Center pistols or others of
their kind are also a good bet but don't use a scope for close in shots.
Of course you don't have to do your calling from thick brush. Wear some
camouflaged clothing and set yourself up someplace where you have an open
field of view all around. Again, it helps to be sitting back to back with
a partner so the area behind you is covered. There are a number of diaphragm
calls on the market that will allow you to do your calling and leave your
hands free to hold the rifle although they are a little more difficult to
learn how to use than the traditional hand call. If you hunt alone you may
want to consider building or buying one of the electronic game callers. The
trick here is to set the speaker next to a small bush with some clearing
around it while placing yourself about 40 or 50 yards away from it. Get a
small stuffed rabbit to use as a decoy next to the speaker and then tie a
feather to it's ear. The feather will move in the breeze and attract the
predators attention. Be prepared for a few bite marks on your decoy. With
this technique you can keep an eye on the area around the call while not
having to worry too much about the area behind you. I've seen coyotes walk
right past me on their way to the source of the call. Sometimes they'll even
stop to look at you before continuing towards the call. Think about the wind
direction before making your setup. You don't want to be upwind of the call
as your scent will drift right over it. At least try to keep the wind coming
directly from your right or left.
There's a large variety of varmint calls available on the market. For the new varmint hunter it can get a little confusing as to which one to use for calling. Generally, hand held calls are available in short range, medium range and long range. There's the diaphragm calls that you place between the tongue and roof of the mouth. With a little practice they can be effective. There is the "mouse squeaker" which is used when the animal is in close. They all sound more or less like a wounded rabbit, bird or some other animal. To a predator this is like ringing the dinner bell. All of the calls are more or less effective in bringing in an animal. If you know that an area has been hunted recently you may want to try using a different call. It helps to have a large selection of calls on hand and then try them all out to see what works best for you. The short range calls are best used when you just start your calling and after the animal has come in close. If you've done any hunting for coyotes you'll know that when they start howling they know that you are there. From then on, no amount of calling will bring them in. You can then use a "coyote howler" for another chance. If you don't have one then you may as well find another area to hunt. There is no, one agreed upon technique to use in varmint calling. Everyone seems to have their own ideas as to what works best. I'm sure they all work more or less. It can help to hunt with an experience varmint caller to see how its done.