Editor’s Note: Gerald Stewart of Waco, Texas, doesn’t remember a time when he hasn’t called, hunted and taken predators. Predator hunting has been his life’s work for most of his life, and each year, he tries to learn more about effective ways to find, call and take predators.
Question: Gerald, what have you recently learned about approaching predators?
Stewart: I came across an idea a number of years ago, and I don’t remember exactly how I figured this out. But my dad, Johnny Stewart, had always been interested in how to approach predators in an area where you want to hunt predators in a quieter way. So, I began to modify the tail pipe of my vehicle and point the tail pipe down toward the ground instead of up or out. This way, the sound of the exhaust goes down into the ground rather than being put out behind the vehicle.
If you’ll notice, when you lay a caller’s speaker on the ground, much of the call’s sound goes into the ground. The same is true if you turn the tail pipe of the vehicle you hunt with down to the ground. Another thing I’ve learned is that animals react differently to various types of vehicles.
Question: In your opinion, what’s the best kind of vehicle for hunting predators?
Stewart: The landowner’s truck because the farmer or the rancher’s truck is the vehicle the predators see and hear most often. The predators won’t react to the sound of this vehicle or at least not react severely to it. If the farmer or the rancher doesn’t shoot predators from his truck, then the predators have no fear of it. But if he does shoot at predators from his truck, they’ll run away and hide every time they hear it crank up.
So, if you’re hunting at a farm or a ranch where the owner doesn’t shoot at predators from his truck, then the predators have no fear of that truck. You’ll realize it’s the best vehicle to move around the ranch in when you’re hunting. I can tell from the first coyote I see on any ranch whether or not the rancher permits shooting from the truck, because if he does, as soon as the coyote sees the truck, the animal will take off running. But if the rancher doesn’t permit shooting from the truck, the coyotes will pay very little attention to the vehicle.
Question: What kind of vehicles do you think the animals react to the least?
Stewart: I’m still using the old 1973 Bronco that my Dad had modified for quietness. I grease it on a regular basis, turn the tail pipe down and put double mufflers on it so that both sides of the engine are muffled, making it run quieter. I’ve even noticed that when I drive up on deer in the field, I can get much closer to the deer with that vehicle than I can with other vehicles, because the deer don’t hear me coming when I’m driving into the wind.
I also think that electric- or battery-powered vehicles are much quieter than gas- powered vehicles. The electric golf cart seems to be much quieter than the gas-powered ATV. For instance, a Bad Boy Buggy is much quieter than a gas-powered ATV. I think you definitely have an advantage and can call more predators when you use a quiet vehicle that the predators have never heard before, especially when you use our new Attractor call.
Question: Why do you like the Attractor call?
Stewart: I like the 50-yard remote control with five sounds embedded in it because you can attract the attention of the animal to that device rather than to you, if you have a call in your mouth or sitting in front of you. The big advantage of the remote control caller really doesn’t come into play until the animal’s in close. You can start out with a primary call like a mouth call or an electronic call to get the predator’s attention at long range.
I like to use the Preymaster or an old Johnny Stewart 512 cassette player to initially start the animal coming toward me. When the critter gets in close, you can use the Attractor, which costs less than $40, making it affordable for almost anyone. By using this little remote control caller in conjunction with the mouth call or the electronic call, you have all the advantages of a more expensive remote call. I’ve used the Attractor Call for the last month and a half to call in 12 gray foxes and four coyotes. I’ve had gray foxes come from behind bushes and actually jump up and bite the Attractor. I had the Attractor hanging up off the ground with the lanyard that comes with it, and a fox jumped into the bush and started biting the Attractor. I had another gray fox climb a mesquite tree with three legs on three different tree limbs, looking right at the Attractor and trying to get it. His nose was about 10 inches from that caller. That was a real Kodak moment.
I was hunting in the early morning with the sunlight dancing on that gray fox’s pelt. That fox looking at that Attractor would have really made a great photo, but I didn’t have my camera with me. On these two instances, I had a very quiet, still morning and I used the Attractor as my primary call. I walked a few hundred yards as quietly as possible, set up the Attractor and then started to call with it. Both foxes came in within about 4 minutes of when I started to call. With the Attractor, I’ve had foxes come in within about 15 yards of me. Most of the time, I’ll set the Attractor about 25 yards from me.
This little call is great for the predator hunter who likes to hunt with a shotgun. Since the call’s away from you, when the animal comes in, his attention is on the call and not on you. So, your chances of getting a shot off are far greater than when the call is right in front of you, or when you’re using a hand-blown call.