An Old Dog Learns New Tricks: How Fred Eichler is using QuietKat Ebikes to increase his predator hunting performance
By Fred Eichler
I only walked 10 yards from where I parked and set out the call. A coyote came barreling in and it didn't work out well for him. I loaded up and took off to cover another mile before setting up and calling again within 10 yards of where I stopped.
What made it possible for me to set up only 10 yards from where I parked? It was because I was using an electric bike, commonly called an 'eBike' for short.
This was huge for me, because usually when I'm predator hunting, in the best-case scenario. I have to park my truck a few hundred yards from where I plan to set up. In some cases, if I have no natural terrain features like thick tree covering or a hill or mountain or deep ditch to conceal my vehicle approach, I often have to park a half mile or more where I want to call so coyotes or other predators aren't spooked by the sight or sound of my vehicle.
In fact, when a friend and I went predator hunting with me a few years ago on the Eastern Plains of Colorado we did just that - we parked the truck a long way from where we set up to call so the coyotes and foxes had no idea we were around.
That was normal to me and used to be the way all the Predator hunters I knew did it. I really didn't know there were other options. I thought nothing of the additional time spent walking a quarter to a half mile from my truck to set up and call and then when done walking another quarter to a half mile back to my truck. I would then load my gear up in the back of my truck and drive to the next calling location, even though that often meant, the additional time of driving the truck back over to where I just come from so that I could go further down the road I just walked back from to drive past that and call again.
Sound like a waste of time? It is. I never realized how much valuable time during prime hunting hours I was losing. They do say ignorance is bliss!
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
What I learned this past year is that eBikes can be amazing tools to help you stealthily slip into your spot to call. Then, instead of having to walk anywhere I just conserve time by laying the bike down in open country or sticking it behind a tree or bush for thicker cover.
The advantage is that I can make more sets in less time and spend more time calling as opposed to driving or walking and that means more predators. Since I sell Predator hides that means more money as well as happy ranchers because I am taking out coyotes that are often killing calves and goats or knocking down game animal populations.
Also, I found that the number of incidental kills I have goes up because I have literally ridden up in the range of coyotes that have no idea I was there. The quiet factor is huge.
I found even when I skin the coyotes on the spot before moving, I was still ahead of time if I was in an area and wanted to make as many sets as I could I would just tie coyotes on my eBike. I can fit three whole unskinned coyotes on my bike if I get inventive. It doesn't help with balance, it may cause a crash and I am not saying it's safe to do, but you can do it.
I was skeptical of the eBikes at first, partially because it had been more years than I cared to remember since I was even on a bike. I was a little concerned that I would get 10 to 15 miles into the middle of nowhere and the battery would die leaving me stranded. I also wasn't sure of the legality of carrying a bow or firearm on one, and if my weapon had to be cased like on a four-wheeler, side by side, snowmobile, or other off-road vehicle
DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST
Here are some things I've learned about eBikes after using them and doing some research.
First off, my fear of riding was quickly dispelled because as the old saying goes, “It's just like riding a bike.” I guess once you have learned you don't really forget, at least I hadn't. That doesn't mean I didn't almost face-plant once when going a little too fast on some gravel on a turn. Once I slowed down a bit and started being a little more cautious, I haven't had any issues.
My original concern about the battery life has been a non-issue so far. Not only can I go 30 to 60 miles on a charge on the QuietKat I'm using an Eco pedal assist mode, I can also carry a spare battery if I want and the pedals are always an option. So in the absolutely worst-case scenario, I can just man up and pedal my way out. To be honest a little throttle and being able to cruise quietly without pedaling at all is right up my alley.
I also learned in Colorado that the eBike I'm using is not considered a motor vehicle and I can have my gun on my handy gun rack without it being cased. I would still not trust anyone when it comes to legal matters, and I advise everyone to check your State's rules and regulations to ensure you are in compliance.
In Colorado, for example, depending on the type of bike you have, you can use them anywhere you would be permitted to take a regular bike like a mountain bike. If you have what is considered a class 3 eBike you can only use those on roadways.
My advice is to be sure to check regulations before taking the eBike on public land in the state you live or wherever you plan to use it before purchasing one. Another suggestion I have is the rent a few or test-ride multiple bikes before buying one. it may help you decide that you really want one, or that they are not for you.
Bear in mind that besides the bike there are some additional items I would suggest and their additional expenses you should consider. one is a gun/bow rack, as well as some additional saddlebags I use constantly on mine.
I can carry water, food, my electronic predator call, and some extra clothes. I would also often stuff freshly skinned coyote hides that I first put in a garbage bag so I don't get blood or fat in my bags.
I'm currently researching a pull-behind cart to help me haul more predators and assist with other things I use my bike for including turkeys, deer, and bear hunting.
Additionally, I have a bike carrier that fits into that receiver hitch on my truck and allows me easily transport the eBike to other states or places it in a state where I want to use it.
While I quickly learned that eBikes are great, I will swap mine out for my truck if the weather is snowy, rainy, or super cold. I still hunt in all those conditions, but being able to take a break in the dry, warm truck is definitely better in my opinion when the weather is nasty.
I also learned all eBikes are not created equal and the prices can range from $600 to $12,000. That's right. They are not cheap, and the really inexpensive ones are well, cheap. They are certainly not for everybody like side-by-sides, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, etc.
For those interested in eBikes the higher priced, well-known Market brands are depreciated as a straight line over a 5 to 7-year period. So, a new eBike will lose roughly 15 to 20% of its value every year similar to Snowmobiles, ATVs, and trucks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I've been trapping and hunting Predators for more than four decades now. I have adapted when I see new technology that I feel is worth using for me or my clients when I take them hunting.
To this end, I have now begun using my eBike for more hunts, whether for me or when guiding clients. The eBikes are a unique and quiet way to not only slip into your hunting area but also to cover the country and still hear a turkey gobble, elk bugle, or coyote bark or how I would have missed if I was in my truck. I have also slipped in a range of multiple animals by cruising slowly through prime country.
I am not getting rid of my horses or other means of transportation, but I can say that the eBike has helped me in the right conditions to harvest more critters by saving time not having to walk away from my vehicle to bugle, yelp, or set up my predator call.
About the Author: Fred Eichler, Host of Predator Nation - a high-energy predator hunting show, entertains and educates viewers on how to successfully harvest predators with a variety of weapons including: bow and arrow, crossbow, AR semi-auto rifles, bolt-action rifles and shotguns. Tune in today!