Hand calls or electronic calls (eCallers) – which one is best for predator hunting? The question has been raised countless times over the last couple decades. And with rapidly changing advancements in technology over the last few years, it would seem that the eCaller camp might be outnumbering diehard mouth call fans. But the truth is, when it comes to consistently killing coyotes, you better have both. Here’s why.
I hear the question all the time, “What’s better, mouth calls or eCallers?” And I’m quick to point out, that it’s really not one call versus the other. Instead, hunters should look at mouth calls and eCallers as tag-team partners when it comes to doing battle with coyotes. They both have their place. Each features pros and cons that will vary depending on the terrain and conditions in which you are calling.
I love mouth calls for the simple fact that they allow me to vary my sounds like nothing else can. I can sound the way I want to sound. There’s no punching a button and allowing a machine to do the work for me. I can put the emotion, tone, pitch, rythmn, and inflection I want into the call. Mouth calls ultimately allow you to customize the sound you want rather than punch a button and being stuck with a pre-programmed calling sound.
Open-reed and closed-reed calls both have their place in the field. I like an open-reed call simply because of its versatility. My open-reed call allows me to mimic the distress sounds of a rabbit, rodent, bird, fawn, coyote pup, and even howls.
Mouth calls are typically very small and easily fit into a shirt or pant pocket, so there’s no excuse for not having at least a couple mouth calls with you at all times.
Mouth calls also allow you to put multiple sounds into play at one time. You can blow prey sounds on your mouth calls while the eCaller is playing predator sounds, crow sounds or others. You can simply paint a greater picture in the mind of a predator when you add multiple calling sounds and options into the mix.
I also never leave home without my mouth calls for the simple fact that I know they will perform no matter what. I don’t have to worry about the weather or weak batteries when I have mouth calls on the lanyard around my neck.
At the risk of sounding old, I remember going to the field in pursuit of my first coyote with a deer rifle and a cassette player in an effort to call up my first predator. We had a bootleg rabbit in distress sound on a cassette tape. I’m pretty sure the tape came from one of the local rednecks that had mistreated a pet rabbit enough to get a very authentic distress sound. It was the best effort a bunch of junior high boys could muster up with limited funds. I eventually graduated up to the Johnny Steward electronic call. It was as heavy as a brick, but offered a variety of sounds through the cassette tape library available for the caller. It also featured a 50’ wire from the speaker to the player so you could place the speaker a short distance from your calling setup.
Times have truly changed. These days everything is digital, wireless, and more realistic than ever.
I use to frown on electronic calls when they first started gaining popularity. I had the mindset of, “I want to do it myself!” I loved the satisfaction of calling coyotes in with my own sounds. Still do today. But I’ve also learned over the last 20+ years that an electronic call with a wireless remote greatly increases your odds for success. It essentially gives you another hunting buddy to share the calling duties with. As previously mentioned, an electronic caller and mouth called used at the same time adds realism like nothing else. But the greatest advantage I’ve found from using electronic calls is the ability to get the sounds away from my setup.
Here’s why that’s such a big deal.
Predators were created with incredibly keen senses. They can literally pick out your calling location, to the tree, at 200 yards away. They just have the ability to hone in and pick out the exact whereabouts of that sound. So when a coyote responds to your call, they can typically pick you out as soon as they step into the field. I’ve been busted too many times to mention when a coyote responds in the middle of my calling sequence.
But an electronic caller changes all of that. The eCaller allows you to place the sound of the call anywhere you want. Smart coyotes will circle down wind of the sound as they investigate. This allows you to place the eCaller 30-50 yards upwind of your setup. When the coyote, or other predator, circles downwind of the caller, he’ll be right in your lap. An electronic call also allows you to place the sound right at the decoy for a more natural presentation. It just really makes more sense to have that call coming from the same spot as the decoy. Trust me, predators will bust you when it comes to this one aspect of calling.
One of my favorite eCallers for calling predators is the Shockwave from FoxPro. The Shockwave comes pre-loaded with 100 sounds and the capacity to hold up to 1000 sounds. It has two horn speakers and two tweeters for incredible sound quality and amplification.
Electronic callers should be a part of every serious predator hunter’s arsenal. They are simply a game changer when it comes to calling predators.
So, mouth calls vs. eCallers – which is better? Again, you better have them both. They work together to mimic the most realistic calling scenario you can present when you’re calling predators this season.
You’ll know you’ve done your part with calling when you draw a predator to within shotgun range.
Predator Caller’s Gear List
- FoxPro Shockwave Electronic Caller
- Johnny Steward Cottontail Mouth Call
- Harvest Deceiver Mouth Call
- FoxPro Mr. Mouthy Howler
- Mossberg MMR .223
- Mossberg 930 Pistol Grip Shotgun