Iíll take a crack at this one:
Originally Posted by CalHunter
Are the preferred setups different for bobcats, coyotes, foxes?...
How about scouting and what to look for in terrain for different species?
I won't spend time here talking about how to hunt coyotes, since there's already a lot of info posted about that, but instead add my thoughts for how I think Fox and Bobcats behave differently than coyotes.
Admittedly, I may not be the best person to answer this, because in Kansas, coyotes drastically outnumber fox or cats, and resultantly, I generally err on the side of caution and design my fox or cat sets like a coyote set in case a coyote shows up
. A coyote set can bring in any of the 3, whereas a bobcat hunter that didnít account for the wind might miss opportunities on unexpected coyotes that circle to the call.
In my experience, both fox and cats are less motivated to come to a call, but both are actually easier to bring into the gun once theyíre hooked. I only target fox or bobcats when scouting has shown a lot of sign, or when I have actually seen them in the area, again, the only real difference being the sound choices I make.
Firing for Fox
Fox wonít usually circle downwind like a coyote would, but they still own a canine nose, so hunters still have to account for the wind. Fox are more apt to come straight downwind to a call, which can simplify your set design, but again, I donít usually hunt that way in case a coyote shows up instead, Iíd rather bag the coyote than nothing. Sometimes almost seems like fox are more worried about keeping an eye out for coyotes or hawks while they come into a call than they are about keeping an eye on the call itself, which might be part of why theyíre harder to get hooked.
Fox in my part of the country favor wooded areas, especially in suburban edges. Wooded areas near small-town grain elevators or farms with grain-piles or bunkers are often productive for me. Fox arenít nearly as nomadic as coyotes, so even fairly old sign is usually a good indicator that theyíll still be in the area. Since they donít move around as much, theyíre also easier to wipe out, so you can hunt yourself out of a future season easier than coyotes. However, that may be a factor of the limited/isolated populations of fox that Iím used to hunting in Kansas. Scat will obviously be smaller than coyotes, and usually include more insects (grasshopper legs, beetle shells, etc). Den entrances will be much smaller, but similarly proportioned to coyotes, taller than they are wide. Tracks are obvious, very small canine, easily distinguished from coyote pups by their slender form, and pup tracks wonít usually have claw imprints.
Fox are most responsive to higher pitched, less Ďaggressiveí, lower volume call sounds. I focus on rodent squeaks, bird distress, baby cottontail distress, etc. Fox vocals, like screaminí grey or fox pup distress are good sounds also (not the same as coyote pup distress). My decoy experience with fox has been mixed, but it seems like a decoy will tug at their playful nature as much or more than their predatory instincts. Any coyote vocals will send a fox packing.
Bringing in Bobcats
Much like house-cats, bobcats are peculiar, really easily distracted, and altogether kind of stupid. Some days it seems like a cat will be coming in, but then hang up because a blade of grass looked at them the wrong way. Cats donít have the sense of smell that canines have, or if they do, they donít use it. Pay attention to edges and boundaries, cats will come in PAINFULLY SLOW, and will often stop and sit down to just watch the grass grow. Keep your eyes peeled. Cats hunt with their eyes and ears, so they will pick up a hunterís movement easily. I also will dedicate a bit extra time to spots I know have cats nearby, maybe 45min to an hour rather than a normal 20-30min coyote set, to give them time to come in, and give myself time to spot them.
Woodpiles and thicker timber are my dead giveaways for cat calling. Bobcats tend to be more reclusive, so I donít see them as much at the edges of towns, but farms with grain-piles or bunkers with woods nearby are good cat areas. Field bins in Nebraska with wooded areas nearby have treated me well also.
Bobcats favor smaller prey species sounds also. Cats CAN target big game like deer, but itís few and far between, usually when the deer is sleeping (hence not making a distress sound), and takes a big kitty. Bird distress, vole squeaks, rodent distress, woodpecker distress, etc are my go-to sounds for cats. If decoys are made for one thing, itís cats. I canít say Iíve had cat vocals be productive, but I also donít hardly ever use them unless a cat is in sight and hunt up, but Iím sure somebody has brought one in with it. Maybe itís more productive during breeding season? I have never seen a cat respond negatively to a decoy. However, I HAVE noticed that if I use a decoy and hand calls, cats are more apt to sit down and just watch, rather than approaching. An e-caller with a decoy seems to give them less distraction, whereas the sound being separate from the visual aid seems to make their brain short circuit. Since cats have a touch of ADD, itís usually more productive to just let the caller play solid to keep their attention. A high speed setting on the decoy with intermittent movement is more productive than a slower, constant movement.