Hunting Stealth Mode: The E-Bike Advantage

A silent mode of transportation could be a big advantage when hunting predators. Whether you’re running and gunning, setting up at a waterhole or hunting over a kill, a stealthy approach could reap big rewards.

by
posted on February 13, 2024
E Bikes For Hunting Lead

It’s no coincidence that the coyote in the old classic cartoon was named Wile-E. Coyotes are among the most astute, observant, shrewd critters on the planet. Not much escapes their attention—especially not hunters grinding their way along remote two-tracks between calling setups. That’s Wile’s bedroom and trust me, he knows you’re there.

Unless you’re riding a QuietKat e-bike.

I recently pedaled my QuietKat Pioneer down a long gravel road at dawn. Some thoughtless fool who seemed to prefer plinking cattle instead of cans had killed a cow, and the carcass was being hit hard by the local coyote population. Now, disposal is their job and I don’t begrudge them that, but a recent intense drought had inspired the coyotes to hunt and kill calves. They had even killed adult cattle weakened by hunger. The drought seemed to have abated now, but the coyotes had learned to enjoy the flavor of beef—we needed to thin the population and inspire the song dogs to go back to rabbits and rodents. So a-hunting I did go—full stealth mode—with a Silencer Central Banish 30 suppressor mounted on my rifle, and my QuietKat for transportation.

Male hunter riding QuietKat e-bike with coyote in trailer.QuietKat offers accessories like the All-Terrain Cargo Trailer ($369) that transform an e-bike into a true hunting and hauling machine.

The 8 or so miles to my destination flew by at around 20 mph, and dawn had arrived as I pedaled silently up the two-track toward the dead cow. Quietly, I parked the bike behind a tree and set up my folding chair behind another, with the wind in my face and my back to the soon-to-be-rising sun. Chambering a round in the AR-15 was the loudest part of my setup, and briefly I wished I had thought to do that before I arrived. After that, I sat down and began the focused process of not moving.

I’d been there less than five minutes when the first coyote arrived.

I thought my eyes were perjuring themselves when I saw a flash of gray against the drab background. I had just barely pedaled in and set up. That coyote had no idea I was even in the area. Ever so slowly I leaned forward and braced my rifle against a leaning tree trunk, centered the crosshairs and dumped ol’ Wile where he stood. Quietly, I settled back into my chair.

The next dog was easier to see—early morning sunshine was touching the desert with rose-gold fingers, and the coyote showed bright against the background. Less than 30 minutes had passed since I’d sent the last one to the happy hunting grounds. Once again I leaned against my tree and pressed the trigger. Now there were two calf-killers lying out there in the sand. It was obvious this stealth-mode equipment is effective.

The idea first hit me while cruising the floor at the January 2023 SHOT show. I spotted the e-bikes at the QuietKat booth and stopped to investigate. While visiting with the QuietKat representative it occurred to me that a silent mode of travel could make a huge difference when hunting predators. Song dogs in particular are famous for being acutely aware of their surroundings, and will modify their behavior if they detect a truck or vehicle snooping around their hunting grounds. Regardless whether a hunter is setting up to ambush desert dogs at a water hole, running and gunning with an e-caller or hunting over a recent kill, the ability to approach silently would be a game changer. I ordered a couple bikes.

QuietKat Pioneer and Apex Pro e-bikes side by side.

I decided to try both ends of QuietKat’s design spectrum: their entry-level Pioneer hub-drive model ($1,999-$2,599) and their top-shelf Apex Pro mid-drive model ($4,999-$5,099). Both have turned out to be very capable, and each has strengths of its own. The Apex model is powerful, fast and sports a sophisticated suspension system. The Pioneer is sturdy (though lighter weight than the Apex) and a bit more resistant to developing problems when hunting brush-country, thanks to the simple hub drive and absence of any chains, sprockets or derailleur. It’s not as fast or powerful as the Apex, but it’s simpler. Pick what suits you—both models are awesome. I did have to install Tannus armor inserts in the tires to protect against the thorns and stickers that run rampant in the Southwest, and I perform regular inspections on the bikes to tighten bolts and screws and prevent them from rattling apart.

For charging the e-bike batteries, I use a QuietKat solar setup, which works great. The batteries are designed to perform best at medium temperature ranges and don’t last long under the extreme heat conditions common to the Desert Southwest, so I carry a spare whenever traveling long distances in the heat.

I’ve yet to try my e-bikes for big-game hunting, but I’m convinced they will be awesome for slipping silently around the whitetail woods, or for hunting limited-access areas like the big timber company lands on the West Coast. The bikes are almost effortless to ride, and, aside from a quiet hum from the electric motor and the sound of tires on the ground, silent. They’re absolutely killer when you need to get from here to there without anything knowing you’re in the territory.

A couple weeks after I successfully thinned out ol’ Wile’s relatives on the flats another calf became coyote dinner in the foothills east of ranch headquarters. We were working cattle from dawn till dark at the time, but my 13-year-old daughter asked if I could spare her for the last hour of daylight to go coyote hunting. I said, “You bet,” and as she scampered for the house to get her rifle I called after her: “Take the QuietKat.” A few minutes later she sailed past, her rifle on the handlebars and her hair flying in the wind, headed for the foothills.

She set up to watch the carcass, the wind in her face and brush around to camouflage her form. Motionless, she waited. A hungry coyote hadn’t heard her silent approach. Just before dark it circled the dead calf, moving in for a beef dinner. It was the last mistake that ’yote ever made.

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