Mind games with meat eaters

Predator hunting isn’t for the faint of heart.

Kevin Leasure, of Rauchtown, loves to head out in the dead of night, gunning for animals who themselves are more predator than prey. But, sometimes he comes home with an unnerving story to tell.

He said he’s had friends who were jumped on by grey foxes and run over by raccoons.

Once, a pack of coyotes responded to his calls but arrived in silence. He said he had no idea they were there until one howled about 15 feet behind him.

Most predator hunting is done at night.

Bobcats can be hunted in daylight. They are very brazen, Leasure said, adding that he has called them in during the day.

However, hunting at night changes things for people who may be used to drawing a bead on a deer through a scope and crosshairs.

First, it’s harder to see down the scope and make sure the crosshairs are centered.

“You are shooting into a pair of glowing eyes and it’s going to cut your range down to yards,” he said.

While aiming for a clean kill shot, you have to decide if the body of the animal is to the left, right or behind its eyes.

“Some guys hunt by the moon phase, some by the weather changes. For me, it always come down to where I am hunting and what past experience has shown me,” he said.

Seasons are important to predator hunting. Right now, the woods are full of food in terms of small game and other food sources.

“They are on top of the food chain,” Leasure said of predator animals. “They will eat anything, and when you look at scat, you will find corn, berries, hair, feet and feathers.”

Find a good and easy food source, and you likely will find a predator.

Scent probably will be the first thing to give you away to a predator.

“You will be busted by their nose before anything else,” he said.

Look at what scents a dog notices and you don’t, he said he tells people. A dog’s sense of smell is similar to that of a coyote or fox.

“As far as your scents go, you never want to use anything dominant. I have guys tell me (they use) coyote urine, fox urine, raccoon urine,” he said.

But that’s not a good idea.

“If you are hunting fox and they smell coyote urine, they are not going to come to it,” Leasure said. “Same with hunting coon. If they smell fox or coyote, they are not going to come to it.”

Instead, stick with prey scents.

“I like a lot of rabbit with a little bit of skunk in it, and also I use some bobcat urine,” he said.

Take the scent or urine and place in a film canister with a cotton ball in it. Then place a dab on a limb that is at level with your own scent.

“I keep (the scent mixture) in a pump bottle and I will fog the whole area for a couple minutes before I start calling,” Leasure said.

Wind can be a predator hunter’s worst enemy.

Find a place where there is food, cover and easy traveling routes. Leasure said predators tend to get lazy and want an easy meal.

Unlike deer hunting, bait can be used to lure in predators. He advises using anything natural with the entrails removed.

“If you have field lanes running next to a woodlot, you are going to want to be looking at them, but not sitting on top of them,” he said.

Even a field with crop such as sorghum or high grass that has tractor tracks in it can be hunted. Sit at the end of it to hunt.

Remember safety, too. Go to the place you plan to hunt during the day and look around, Leasure said. Make note of where buildings and farm animals are located. Get familiar with the area in the daylight first.

Predator hunting is time consuming. He likes to get permission to hunt properties that may be overlooked or in which animals are not pressured.

He hunts from the ground and is a “gun and run” predator hunter. He looks for the easiest way in, takes a while to set up and, if nothing is working, makes a quick exit.

“Unless I have something workingk I am on a stand for 20 minutes and then I am gone,” he said. “You only have some much darkness or sunrise to hunt in.

He doesn’t mind sharing his experience with others.

“(To) anyone I am taking out for the first time and introducing them to this, I say, ‘I will be straightforward with you. You are making a sound that they (predators) either want to eat, fight or have sex with,” he said. “It’s not for the faint of heart or those afraid of the dark.”