I seem to always dust off the rimfire guns in late winter. I get out the 22 mag revolver or 17 hmr rifle and head to the woods in search of critters that will come to the call.
Coon calling is one of my favorite things to do and we still have until the end of February to get out and give it a try. These guys can be easy to call in at times and provide loads of fun and action. In late winter, look for temperature spikes. Nothing major, but a warm day in late winter can get these guys out of the den and make them callable. We are well into their breeding season which, as we all know, can really get them up and moving.
The real key to daytime success is to locate den trees that hold coons. These are usually the largest, oldest trees in the area. Favorites include cottonwood, maple and hackberry. Once located, simply find the dens or larger cavities in the trees. These cavities are usually the result of lost limbs or storm damage. Look for narrow coon trails or tracks in the snow or mud leading to the tree. Trails and tracks are dead giveaways!
Set your caller and self on the opposite side of the den. This way, when the coon looks out the den hole for the sound he will have to completely come out and circle around the tree offering you the best shot opportunity.Electronic callers are supreme here. E-callers also offer you a wide range of sounds to choose from. In late season, start out with a sow or coon squabble call. Less aggressive for those less dominant coons. If nothing happens, switch over to the aggressive coon or coon fight. That will usually get them out quickly. I also use a MOjo critter decoy. The movement really gets their attention giving you time for a shot. If nothing happens in the first five minutes…probably not home.
Good camouflage is a must. Wiley coons usually like to peek out of the den before exiting. If they spot a short fat guy sitting on the ground the gig is up! Although coons use their noses, smell is not as much of an issue when calling up into a tall tree.
Rimfire rifles or handguns work well for coons. Head shots are the goal as you ruin less hide. Tired of carrying a rifle around, I began using a 22 mag single action revolver a few years ago. Out to 40 yards or so that pistol is the bees knees! I have literally taken coons just before they attacked my caller or decoy. Just make sure you have a good backstop behind the coon and avoid shooting into he sky. Those little bullets can travel well over a mile! Also, since your only going to shoot after you set up to call, coon hunting really lends itself to bumming the woods with the gun unloaded until ready to call.
I like to think of coon calling as a poor man’s bear hunt. These critters can be aggressive and sometimes show little concern when running to the call. We have few weeks left of the season. Any temp over 20 degrees can result in coons leaving the den to roam or check out a call. Have fun and keep your eyes open. The action can be fast!