Hunting and Outdoors

Gizmos & Gadgets — Knight & Hale Cottontail Rabbit Distress Call

Hunter with bow and arrow crouched over a coyote

Knight & Hale has redesigned its Cottontail Rabbit Distress Call making it the perfect choice for use anywhere in the country to seduce coyote, bobcat, fox and other predators.

Knight & Hale Cottontail Distress Call
Friendly, compact and lots of volume – a predator’s worst nightmare.

The barrel design of Knight & Hale’s Cottontail Rabbit Distress Call has an ergonomic look and feel. The threadlock barrel screws into the shortened end piece for ease of disassembly, but more importantly, no more worrying about losing half of your call in the field. The wedge, reed and soundboard have also been redesigned, with the reed now able to “lock” into place. This allows you to reassemble the call—just the way it came from the factory—every time. The end result is a great sounding, user friendly, compact call, with a lot of volume.

Having a great call and being an effective caller are two different matters. Just because I owned a set of surgical tools… you get the idea. Fortunately, calling predators isn’t brain surgery. A mistake only leads to getting busted by a song dog and moving down the road a stretch to the next setup.

Distress Calling 101

A mistake novice callers often make is hammering the call too much. When making the sound of a dying rabbit, you have to… well… sound like you are dying. There is nothing wrong with hammering the call—loud and full of breath—at the beginning of a series. If a predator is close and responds immediately—that’s great. However, this does not happen often. More likely, you are going to be calling through your series for several seconds or possibly a minute or more depending on your area and quarry. Toward the end of the series you will need to fade away, tone it down, just as a dying rabbit running out of breath and energy would. Remember, dying rabbits do not end strong.

Hunter with bow and arrow crouched over a coyote
This coyote came in to 17 yards making it ripe for a bow shot from the author’s Mathews Z7 bow outfitted with a Trijicon Accupin bow sight.

After your series, wait and watch for a few minutes; let the predator do a bit of searching. Predators are not worried about prey dying before it gets there; only another predator finding it first. After 3 to 5 minutes without a response, you can repeat the series. Normally, I will give a setup about 15 minutes before moving on. In the East with hardwoods, the dense vegetation will not allow the sound to travel as far. In these areas I may only move about a quarter mile to make my next stand. However, in open areas such as the desserts of New Mexico, I may travel for a couple of miles before setting up again.

Go Get ‘Em

Learning to call with a more experienced caller is great. When that isn’t possible just head to your local hunting grounds —at night if possible. Just pull over and listen for howling a few minutes. If you don’t hear anything, give a few screams from your call and see if anything answers. This is a great way to locate animals and determine your setup locations for the following day’s hunts. You’ll make mistakes and learn as you go, but that is the beauty of predator calling. There is always another one just down the trail.

Tell us your favorite predator hunting tip!

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Comments (7)

  1. If you guys ever get bored hunting what you’re hunting, try your wits against a Coyote. He’ll make a fool of you quickly, but that’s quite the chalenge. You just need lots of space in which to conduct calling. Because they’re so smart, you can over call an area quickly. Don’t call the same area more than once or twice a month, if you can help it less frequently is even better. And be sure to consider how far they can hear. Move an ample distanc,e away before calling again. That is important. You’ll wise them up before you know it. Also, consider the possibility ( if on public land ) that other people may have been right where you are, calling too much, peeinvgon the trails, or throwing cigarette butts down….. The day before yesterday. It happens. There are a lot of factors, a lot of variables to consider. Good luck out there, and someone try it, and share your experience. Learn what the tracks and scat look like, do a little scouting now, and remember February is mating season.

  2. Oh yeah, if you’re driving out on the highway, and see Coyotes that have been hit by traffic, they probably cross right in that area somewhere. They move fast and deliberately across roadways as they do seem to know what cars are, and they get used to the sound they make whizzing by. If you encounter this scenario, andthere’s another person in the vehicle, start looking on both sides of the road, well out beyond the fences. In an area like this, they’ll watch the traffic, and try to time it just right, expending lots of energy getting across, just like jay walking. Then, once they cross the fence and go 15 to maybe 30 yds beyond the fence, they’ll usually calm down, and just amble along, maybe even just stand there resting, lokking back at the traffic etc. As long as everyone keeps moving at highway speeds, they are at ease. But if you spot one stand ing out away from the fence and suddenly try to stop……. He’ll bale and run. They can tell when something’s not right. They’re very smart.

  3. (Damn this phone)
    rabbit hide, and now, she resides on my wall in the Den. I even got the ears, eyelashes, and whiskers. Looks like a little bear skin rug on the wall. Since then, I’ve called quite a few times, seen a lot of different predators, had a few come to the call, but never another big female Coyote. Oh, by the way. Once, a co-worker asked me what was so special about callinvg and I invited him along one night. After leaving the truck, we crossexd a railroad track, went more than a quarter mile down a recently cleared right of way for huge power line towers, like a pipeline thru the Elm bottoms near a creek. We blew the call a few times and what looked like a 4 ft ceiling fan swooped in, and tried to take the camo tobogan off his head. (If it looks like you’re wearing a rabbit on your head, you deserve whatever you get. It was rither a large Owl or Hawk. He nearly shit himself, and yelled over and over in no uncertain terms…………..”Don’t you EVER ask me to do this again. When you blow a varment call, you become the hunted, and you can only imagine……. But really never know what might show up. If you’re gonna use a cover scent, skunk screen can attract skunks, there’s another tip Dave. I have shot a few Cottontails with Wolves in them, and just gut them, and hang them around the area to draw predators in, as well as mask my scent. Man, if I had a good place to go now, I’d be tempted to try my new AK-47. Like I said earlier, I don’t hunt anymore, and the new trend is more home defense, especially on this blog, but thanks Dave for posting this thread on hunting, I don’t know anything about calling zombies, but have a lifetime of memories hunting real animals. Come on guys, who’s next. Somebody out there give us a little Buck Fever.

  4. ( Damned battery )
    of 1983, we had a very unusual occerance for this area, I’d never seen such cold weather, and haven’t since. I was a very young, cold enduring 30 then. The ground hadn’t been close to freezing for weeks, and then it snowed for a day or two, with temps dropping hard and fast. After the initial snowfall, the sky quickly cleared, but here’s the thing. The temperature dropped to a high of 10 to 12 degrees daily, and lows at night of 2 to 4 degrees above zero…….for two and a half weeks straight. The fact that the ground wasn’t frozen before it snowed, and the fact that the Sun shown brightly every day meant that the 3 to 5″ snow melted from the bottom up, a d the top down at the same time, making it only a couple of inches thick, and shiny on top, like ice. When you’d walk, it sounded like huge potato chips crunching, there was no silent footsteps in the snow. I was out hunting every available minute. People in Texas don’t do well driving in snow and ice, so there were lots of insurance claims initially, and the pipes had two and a half weeks to thaw, and send everyone to Home Depot in smashed up vehicles to scavenge for pipe fittings. Near the end of that 2& 1/2 weeks, I was Deer hunting on a hundred acres I’d hunted hard for three years on without seeing a Deer on. Oh, there were always fresh tracks every morning that I’d be there for three years. I always joked that there were more Coyotes and gas men on the place than anything, cause besides Deer tracks covering Deer tracks, (big Deer tracks) there were always Coyote tracks covering Deer tracks as well.(big Coyote tracks,) and every night they’d howl and carry on the way they do when they kill something. The part about gas men was just venting my frustration, because with a well at the back of the place, there’d always be a pickup driving in on you while you’d be trying to hunt. Anyway, I got there early, and walked to the back, past my enclosed box tower stands w/ propane heaters to climb into the crotch of a Live Oak tree, about 10 feet up, facing Northwest,overlooking a deep draw about forty yards away, running North to South, and I couldn’t see the bottom of was brushy down in it. It wasan open pasture where I was, and went uphill behind me, andcrowned about 75 yds behind me, and started to decend, still open with short grass toward the Southeast behind me. I was in the crotch of that tree, sitting on a 2X12 about 2 & 1/2 ft long, a good half hr before daylight. Now, it was around 2 degrees above, and I had maybe a 5 to 10 mph Northwest wind in my face. The stage was set. Finally, around 7am I heard crunch, crunch behind me. It was a very decreped old scraggly Doe with all her ribs showing, crossing from East to West, about 15 to 20 yds behind me, heading for the draw, and then crossing it, she’d proceed on West up a large thickly wooded and brushy hill. My first Deer sighting on that place in the three years I’d hunted there. Hard hunting too. There’d been times I’d crawl up into a heated box/tower stand on the other side of that hill, on the pipe line, before day light, and not come down ’til it was too dark to shoot; for the whole day, and never see anything to shoot. Oh, I could handle the cold, and had patience as well. It was a one Buck county, and no issued Doe permits, but just as well, that old Doe looked tougher than I was. Maybe 5 minutes after she disappeared down though the draw, something caught my eye, moving quickly over my left shoulder. A heavy, short legged female Coyote was trotting North along the near edge of the draw, and I watched as she crossed the spot where the Doe had entered the draw as if it had never occured. She had her nose down, and moved at a steady trotting pace, to a point at my 10 oclock, just about forty yds away, and stopped. She was as close to me as she would ever be on her present course, and would only have gotten fartheraway out directly ahead of me if she’d kept moving. With the breeze still in my face, I brought my Remington 788 in 6mm up and put the Bushnell 3X9 on her left shoulder as she stood there. A hundred gr hot hand load for Deer, hit low, and that pissed her off. She stood almost in place, spinning round and round, snarling, and growling, trying to knaw her leg off for a good 10 seconds, then started directly away from me, toward the edge of the draw. I knew in 3 or 4 seconds, she’d be down the draw, out of sight. I chambered a second round, and CLICK! I know it had to be the 2 degree weather, cause that gun and those loads had never done that. I shucked out that round and a third. Bang! I held the hairs low on her ass and fired just as she lept off the near edge of the draw, and completely out of sight, but this time, there was a huge red mist beyond her, on the uphill side, across the draw, and she was obviously down in the draw. I tried to sit there, and keep hunting, but by now it was near 7:30am, and at 2 to 4 degrees, I’d had enough. She weighed 45 lbs, and had a hide like a Calico cat. Beautiful color, nothing like the pale salt n pepper males we usually see. I brought her home, skinned her in the back yard, salted the hide down on a sheet of plywood for a couple of weeks, like a rabbit hid

  5. I sometimes will start the first round of calling at a very subdued volume, just in case a Coyote or Fox has wandered in close in the last 20 minutes since I sat down. It’s never seemed to make a difference, but it makes sense to me. Another tip is that cats can easily that 15 or 20 minutes before even showing up, so don’t get up and move immediately without considering that. Foxes seem to come a little slower than Coyotes, but very directly and deliberately, the ones I’ve seen seem very curious, and intent. Another thing about Coyotes is that February is mating season. Normally, whenever you see one, it’s a male, with more of a nondescript salt and pepper coloration. Not sharply defined. The females, which have more distinct color patterns, will usually lay back in cover, letting the males expose themselves first. But when it’s mating season, all bets are off. They’ll throw caution to the wind, being hunger driven even more because of the exursion and stress of mating season, becoming predictably unpredictable during this time,and if a Coyote is destined to make mistakes, this is the odds on favorite time of the year for it. Foxes may come straight in, intently and deliberately, and may get closer than you plan on, and they might just stop and sit down, staring inquisitively toward the sound of the call. Bobcats are called the Grey Ghost for good reason. You can be very alert, and in an instant, they appear. You may not have even seen body movement at all, as if they just floated in, and they can disappear the same way, even while you’re looking directly at them. They all have extremely keen senses, and make getting a shot at a Deer just like walking up and shooting a cow.
    I always loved reading about hunting when I couldn’t be out there. My hunting buddies were Russell Tinsley, Byron W. Dalrymple, John Wooters, Hal Swiggett, Rick Jamison, Clyde Ormond, and Murry and Winston Burnham. All those guys wrote many great articles, and books on hunting predators, and are worth googling to find some of their work, for those of you who may not be familiar with them. I had the pleasure of meeting Murry Burnham once, and he gave me one of his calls, and a gimme cap.
    Here in Boomhower, Texas in the Winter

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