Editor's Note: This week in the Realtree.com Online Journal section, we'd like to formally introduce you to one of our very committed forum members...SureShot! Find out here whether or not he really lives up to his nickname! And that's not all! Bret will also clue you in on some killer 'yote-hunting strategies.
A man who calls himself SureShot in the Realtree.com hunting forum has got to be able to live up to the name. Bret Maffenbeier of Saskatchewan, Canada has earned the name, and much more in his circle of friends here, on line at realtree.com and beyond. He's a veteran hunter of many species, but his newest claim to fame comes from being known affectionately as the "Coyote Annihilator". This year alone he has harvested over 80 yotes which he rates as a slow year due to the warm temps and pressured animals. Last year with colder weather, he bagged well over 100. With a 6mm rifle in his hands, he is seemingly capable of single handedly keeping the coyote population in check is his corner of the world.
SureShot lived up to his name on these two fine Canadian bruisers!
Man or Myth? Working as a mechanic in a shop that normally slows down in the winter, Bret has a fair amount of time to dedicate to his sport during these cold months. As an added benefit to the time outdoors, he brings in a few extra dollars from the hides. Bret is married to a wonderful and understanding woman named Niki and has two young daughters, Kaylee, 11 years old and Brooke, 6 years old. After seeing to his family responsibilities each day, Bret spends as much time outdoors as possible. Enough probably to make the rest of us jealous averaging about 120 hours during the months of December and January.
He began his hunting way of life at the age of 12, hunting alongside his father as they bird hunted. His father never deer hunted so he had to wait till he was about 15 years old to go with some friends. That first fall season with friends however, he bagged a mulie, a whitetail, an antelope, and his first coyote. The coyote being taken with a single-shot .22 rifle. At 16 years old he took a job at a service station that allowed him to meet many hunters that came to his region to bird hunt. He always offered to help out the out-of-towners and gained a wealth of knowledge from the diverse groups that came to bird hunt near Assiniboia, Sask. One of his favorite memories was the week he spent hunting with Shirley E. Woods Jr, owner of Woods Camping Equipment . He was later sent an autographed book written by Woods, titled "Hunting for Upland Birds and Waterfowl". The notation inside read, "For a dedicated sportsman and fine shot- Bret Maffenbeier". Quite an honor for a 16 year old to be recognized by a "Big Time" hunter like Woods.
How About Some 'Yote Tips? Bret believes that there are several steps that must be taken in order to be consistently successful as a yote hunter. "Coyotes are much smarter than we all expect and great camo is a must", Bret says. You've got to blend in in order to go undetected by these predators. He mostly uses a white suit with a facemask with all the snow that regularly coats his region. Without snow on the ground, he uses other camo to help him blend in. The senses of a coyote are incredible. There ears can locate a hunter at a 1/2 mile and their super sensitive noses can detect scent as small as 2 parts per million. Movement is what these predators will catch first, any movement that is, thus good camo is a must. They will pick you out and bust you before you even know they are there.
He began his hunting way of life at the age of 12, hunting alongside his father as they bird hunted. It wasn't too long after when Bret embarked on a coyote mission!
To try and overcome these natural instincts and advantages, Bret uses coyote urine or skunk essence every time he thinks a yote may come in from downwind. Even when he's unsuccessful in a particular area, the scent will remain and may draw yotes for days to come. Calling is where Bret seems to excel. His favorite call is a scotch bellow call because of the variety of sounds and tones that can be produced by the call. It can be used to call loud, or quiet when a yote approaches or it can be squeezed to work as a squeaker. He'll usually start his calling sequence softly, lasting only about thirty seconds, in case there is a yote within a 100 yards or so.
He mostly uses a white suit with a facemask with all the snow that regularly coats his region. Without snow on the ground, he uses other camo to help him blend in.
Bret has made the duty of skinning and prepping coyote hides into an absolute science!
After the initial calls he'll wait a few minutes, sitting still and just watching for any sign of an approaching coyote. Sometimes when calling you'll see a yote a few hundred yards away and then he'll disappear. This is usually when the coyote is trying to work downwind of the caller. "Sometimes they come in slow and careful but a coyote that is hungry or mad at an intruder will charge in", according to Bret. "If they come in slow, I will change the sounds a bit to try to persuade him a little closer". Bret will blow hard and make all sorts of sounds if a coyote starts to run away. The animal probably caught your scent or saw something out of the ordinary and the unusual calls may get him to stop if only for a moment, you need to be ready to take the shot however, because he won't be coming any closer or hanging around very long.
Being The Coyote Another tip Bret offers is to be as adaptable as the coyote. Much of his success this year came from breaking out of the normal scent and calling patterns and trying something different. He used the bellows call, electronic calls, a fawn bleat call, a cottontail call, a jackrabbit call, a barker, and a howler call. After a lot of trial and error, he found that the fawn bleat call worked the best. He attributes the change in the animals calling preference to the animals not being as hungry due to a mild winter that allowed a lot of crops to be left in the field which attracted mice by the thousands and more hunters in the field pressuring the coyotes. He also uses decoys at times. A stuffed baby rabbit on a string that he can tug on to add movement to it and a homemade skunk decoy made from a bleach bottle and duct tape. There are times when they'll bring them in on the run, he says!
Bret shoots all year, a lot! His favorite weapon for yote hunting is a Remington Model 742 in 6mm. He hand loads 65 grain Hornady bullets and slows them down to under 3000fps. He says, "It's a great combo" and "Is great on 10 yard shots and great out to 350 yards". According to Bret, a coyote is "Not much bigger than a 2 liter pop bottle with the fur off". Cleaning the gun after about every 50 shots and constantly checking to be sure the gun is still zeroed, is very important if you want to consistently take coyotes. Getting a coyote to respond to a call is difficult at best if he has been shot at already so you must be accurate with your first shot, according to Bret.
As far as advice for the novice coyote hunter? Bret has this to offer. "Don't give up. It's not easy to get started without help but it will all come in time." Another great tip he has is to learn as much about the animal your hunting as possible. "Learn to be quiet, and to get to your stand quietly. Listen to some tapes of calling sequences, then practice, practice, practice." Also he adds, "Never forget about their noses, camo is important but sitting still is more important." Being prepared is a priority also, "My gun is always on my shooting sticks in the direction I expect the coyote to come from and I am always in the shooting position because you never know when you will see one".
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