Predator Hunting 101: How to Scan with Your Light

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Predator Hunting 101: How to Scan with Your Light

The key to success in predator hunting is learning how to properly use your equipment. In this segment, we will discuss how to scan fields with your hunting light. When a predator hunting light is used effectively, it can be more valuable than night vision or thermal scanners. This might seem ridiculous to a beginner, but it comes down to learning how to properly use your hunting light to maintain your camouflage and quickly identify coyotes, bobcats, fox and other predators.

Learning How to Scan while Predator Hunting

Electronic calls and decoys have made it easy to bring coyotes, bobcats, and other predators in close. The key to properly dispatching them is locating them before they locate you. This is where learning how to scan while predator hunting comes in. Use the light to your advantage, and your success rate will increase significantly. 

Choose the Right Hunting Light

There are 3 core features that your predator hunting light must have: adjustable intensity, a long range beam, and the optimal color wavelength

Adjustable Intensity
  • Dimmable controls for adjusting intensity based on how far the animal is away from you.
  • Variable intensity is used to maintain your camouflage and get eye shine without "burning" your target species.
Long Range Beam
  •  The more powerful light, the better for reaching out long distances.
  • You can't get eye shine on what your light can't reach.
  • Most gun-mounted lights shine far but have a very small beam when zoomed in, long range hunting light bars are capable of shining further with a wider beam.
Optimal Color Wavelength
  • Bobcats, coyotes, fox, hogs, and other placental mammals have protanopia dichromacy, which means they are color blind to long wavelength colors.
  • Red is scientifically the best hunting light color.
  • Warm white is commonly used by film crews due to the ability of cameras to pick up low light conditions better.
  • When the art of scanning with your predator hunting light is mastered, both warm white and red LED hunting lights can be used effectively.

Predator Hunting Scan Light

Start Scanning Before You Start Calling

Once you enter the field you plan to call, the scan light should start running and never stop. There may be predators already in the field, and if you can identify them prior to calling that gives you an advantage on what call to run and at what intensity to start your call to lure them in.

Scan Light Intensity Setting

The intensity of your light while scanning should be dimmed down from maximum brightness. The goal here is to get eye shine without "burning" your target species. The actual intensity setting is ultimately a judgement call; if you are in an area with heavy brush where fox, coyotes and bobcats are in close quarters the light will be dimmed down more than in an open pasture where predators can be spotted several hundred yards away. 

Smooth and Fluid Motions

Quick and abrupt motions are the easiest way to alert predators in the field. They may not know what's going on, but they know something is up when they see shadows jumping. Smooth and fluid motions with your scan light are the best way to discretely locate predators by way of eye shine. 

Scanning Speed and Frequency

The speed and frequency you move your scan light will vary depending on the terrain you are hunting. 

  • Heavy Brush: predators can jump out at anytime, faster and more frequent scanning cycles are important so they don't catch you before you catch them, and leave. 
  • Open Country: scan light will illuminate more terrain at a time, it is easier to see predators coming in from long distances. Slower and less frequent scanning cycles with high attention to detail are more ideal. Don't mistake slower and less frequent for slow and not frequent.

You See Predator Eyes - Now What?

Bobcats are known to sit and approach slowly, while coyotes and foxes are known for coming in quickly. If you're able to quickly identify the target, their movements may be more predictable. 

Maintain Your Camouflage

The strategy here is to never take the predator light off their eyes, it is now your camouflage. Predators have excellent night vision, and this tactic will dilate their eyes and make it difficult for them to see you. 

This tactic is not possible with night vision or thermals, and is one of the key reasons many hunting guides and contest winners run lights instead of, or in conjunction with, night vision and thermals when calling in predators. 

Keep Light Halo on Eyes of Predator

If the animal is committed, keep your calling sequence going, the halo of the light on the eyes of your target and gradually increase the intensity of the light as it comes in to closer range. If the animal is hung up and not committed, try some lip squeaks to entice them. 

The center of the beam can be too intense and sometimes "burn" the predator and send them running. It's best to have the center of the beam above the predator, so you aren't lighting up the terrain in front of them which could potentially alert them. 

Ready, Aim, Dispatch

Once the target is in range and you've picked him up in your scope, it's time to prepare for dispatch.

Bobcats may stop every so often on their way in, making for several excellent shot opportunities. Coyotes and fox are less likely to stop unless something alerts them. Most shots while hunting these predators are going to be on the move. Sometimes if a coyote is committed too hard, we will increase the light intensity faster or make a lip squeak sound to get them to stop for a second. 

The center of the light beam should never reach the target until the hunter is about to pull the trigger. This is ideal for final confirmation and making the most ethical shot possible. Once the cross hairs are stable on the target, exhale and slowly pull the trigger for an accurate dispatch. 

The ability to consistently lure in and dispatch predators while hunting is an art form that can be mastered with practice. A successful predator hunting trip is often determined by how well you learn how to scan with your light. 

Scanning with Predator Hunting Light

Outrigger Outdoors is your trusted source for all things predator hunting. Check out our selection of predator hunting lights, and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. Thanks for reading along and happy predator hunting!


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