Effective Hand Calls for Predator Hunting

posted on February 20, 2024
Hand Calls For Predator Hunting Lead

Do you notice how technology erases traditions? How many of you still have a land line or crazier yet, a rotary dial phone on the wall? How many of you own a vehicle with manual windows? How many of you still hang a predator hand call around your neck on a lanyard? 

You can forgo the wall-mounted phone, but bringing along a hand call for predator hunting delivers an army of windfalls to win the predator game. Rely on your electronic caller, but stash a hand call—or three—into your pack for situations that are best left to your lungs for the win. Hand calls are not antiques yet. 

Inexpensive And Lightweight
Have you priced an e-caller lately? The models outfitted with speakers that Jason Aldean would appreciate set you back comparably to the price of a new firearm. If you have an electric emptiness, save up, but be comforted by the fact hand calls line sporting goods shelves for fun at an affordable cost. My first predator call purchase came from Burnham Brothers. Still available, the S-2 Close Range sets you back $9.99.

Rocky Mountain coyote calls in snow.

Today, you will not find me in the field without at least one of the three Cartridge Calls from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls. My go-to is the .22-250 Bird Distress Cartridge Call. Crafted from the very cartridge they are named from, the .243 Rabbit and .223 Rodent mimic, like the Bird model, the very critters captured in the title. For the price of a Biggie Meal at your favorite drive-thru, $9.95, you can own one of these predator-coaxing cartridges. And do not overlook the sounds you can create on a diaphragm call. It offers an endless array of sorrowful sounds.

The definition of lightweight is overkill when talking hand calls, especially if you utilize a mouth diaphragm that barely registers on a scale. Set one of the flashier electronic calls on a scale and you could see the needle jump to 4 pounds or more. That does not count the extra batteries you should stuff into your pack … just in case.

Some of you may not hunt predators in remote areas or on cross-country hunts, but weight does matter when you see miles ahead. The convenience of a hand call also shines while on a deer hunt that suddenly becomes a predator pursuit. Having a hand call in your pocket gives you instant superpowers to lure a distant coyote into an opening near your stand for extra sport in an afternoon hunt.

Kiss in the Palm of Your Hand
Although KISS likely brings back hazy memories of an 80s rock concert, for this article, it stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” You have no issues running your cable TV remote (just nod yes), but running a remote while attempting to switch sounds with two coyotes barreling at you is just not the same as going from HBO to Netflix.

Coyote hunting calls in camouflage gloved hand.

A mouth call offers you simplicity to change from a loudmouth rabbit to a squeaky rodent instantaneously. Bite down with more or less pressure, or swap to a new call, but you have an easy way to alter sounds when needed. Purchasing three calls sets you up for the KISS advantage. A howler, open reed or diaphragm driven, a raspy, large rodent call and a squeaky rodent call offer ample tools to lure in any predator, anywhere. With three calls in your lap or hanging on a lanyard, you avoid punching the wrong button on your remote and having to use reading glasses to read the small screen (yes, me too). Instead, you can feel the difference in the calls as you reach between sound options for a new chart-busting hit.

Hand calls also provide a rescue plan. How many times have you reached for the flashlight in your truck only to discover dead batteries? Your electronic caller will fail you at some point as well, either from neglect or cold weather. A hand call only operates from your battery system, so unless you expire while on a hunt, it works. You will not find a more inexpensive backup partner. 

An Orchestra in Your Hand
As pointed out, three hand calls cover it all. They provide an orchestra of opportunity in a small package. You can purchase more or go with less depending on your objective. During breeding season, January and February, I often just tote a diaphragm and my Stealth Yote Howler into the field. A bit of howling combined with a decoy or, in my case, my decoy dog, spurs curiosity in coyotes guarding territory or still looking for a life partner.

The small band/hand call alternative not only gives you the opportunity to create a diversity of dying or lustful sounds, but your lungs also give you the power of inflection. Sure, the speakers on an electronic caller might impress Mr. Aldean, but the inflection you can drive into a call via your own lung power gives you the instantaneous transitions needed while reading the conduct of a cagey cat or coyote.

Male hunter holding up coyote on snowy mountainside.

The crisp, clean sound and excitable inflections combine to create a realism that budget electronic callers fail to recreate. I have seen it time and time again with distant, standoffish coyotes who suddenly break when I rip a real howl at them using a diaphragm call through a handheld megaphone. 

Another tactic that reinforces your spendy e-caller purchase is to combine the two. Set your electronic caller out a distance. Retreat 100 yards or so and set up in the shadows. Now use your hand calls and e-caller to communicate together. Mixing coyote vocalizations with prey in distress or confidence calls, like crows, creates a special story adding more authentic character to your setup.

The flashy remote screen of a modern electronic caller gives you plenty of reasons to invest, but those antique-looking hand calls still have merit. For the price of a burger meal, it pays to put a couple antiques in your pocket for reinforcements.


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