Dec 14, 2013

Irony - Two Statements that speak volumes:


Irony 1

We are told NOT to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics. BUT, on the other hand, we are also encouraged TO judge ALL Gun Owners by the actions of a few lunatics.


Irony 2

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 47 million people as of the most recent figures available in 2013.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."

Thus Ends Today's Lesson on Irony

Nov 10, 2013

Who is the Humane Society of the United States?

Many people think of PeTA when they think of animal rights organizations, but HSUS is much more powerful and effective. Yet they are funded by a money making scam. The figures below, provided by a watchdog group called Humane Watch, are based on HSUS' 2011 IRS Form 990, which nonprofits have to file. It shows their 2010 activity.

· Total revenue: $148.7 million
· CEO Wayne Pacelle's compensation package: $287,786 (up seven percent from 2009)
· Employees: 636 (including 30 lawyers), 29 who earned more than $100,000
· Salaries and benefits: $36.2 million
· Added to pension plan: $2.6 million
· Spent on fundraising: $47 million (37 percent of its total budget)
· Spent on lobbying: $3.6 million
· Grants to other ballot-initiative political front groups: $1.75 million
· Grants to pet shelters: $528,676 (0.418 percent of its total budget-less than one percent)
· Total expenses: $126.4 million
· Net assets remaining: $187.5 million

The respected American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) analyzes information from a set of charities, including HSUS. To date, AIP has given HSUS six consecutive annual "D" ratings, reflecting its high operational costs, inefficient fundraising, and low percentage of giving to its intended recipients.

Although they have a paid membership of around 500,000, HSUS claims a "constituency" of 11 million, giving it considerable political clout. There's no doubt that they have an enormous database of names and contact information to approach with its requests for contributions.

One major way HSUS raises money is by asking for money to help animals in shelters. Their deceptive advertising is so effective that polling of those who contributed to HSUS shows that 74 percent gave specifically to help pet shelters, and reduce the number of animals euthanized. A full 90 percent of those polled were completely unaware that HSUS gave less than one percent to shelters annually. They fully believed that by giving to HSUS, they were helping their local shelter. As Kathleen Marquardt says in her excellent book, Animal Scam, "Many people make contributions to HSUS thinking the organization provides money for animal shelters. In fact, HSUS does not run a single shelter. It benefits from the confusing similarity of its name with that of the much older AHA, which was originally called the American Humane Society."


Oct 22 2013      Big Mark’s NPHA Thoughts

Fresh out of college in the mid 80’s I left the family farm and moved to Missouri, where I stayed for almost ten years. I lived in an old, run down single wide trailer a couple of miles out on a dead end dirt road. I hauled my own water and was on a party line for my phone services. It was far from glamorous, I can assure you, but all I could afford trying to make it on my own.

Several years later, I was in the St. Louis airport and watched a few high ranking officials from a national outdoor organization “spend and blow through” quite a bit of “membership money” on drinks and some pretty fancy food, and it has had a lasting effect on me to this day. There is a fine line between what’s necessary and over the top extravagance.

I view many organizations with more than a bit a skepticism…. just what is it that they are trying to accomplish and who is “leading the charge”?

What is the Purpose of your organization? You have to clearly spell out the 5 W’s quickly and in very easy to understand words….who, what, when, where, why…it absolutely cannot say or imply “body count hunts” in any way shape or form to attract the kind of big time sponsors and organizations you will need to grow your event down the road, after you get the obvious one’s on board.

Most folks in the predator hunting game don’t know that I have been seriously involved in the coonhound sport for my entire life. I hunt Redbone coon hounds, which has three different breed organizations, which is also complete nonsense. But somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, someone hurt someone else’s feelings which caused a split or divide in membership, so one person or a group of people branched off on their own and formed a separate membership. This kind of thing happens in every facet of life whether it’s churches, politics, coonounds or coyote organizations. So instead of one strong Redbone organization, there are three relatively insignificant smaller groups. These groups hold their own national events each year, but if they would join together as one, the breed would be much better off.

I think Jim Spencer did an excellent job spelling this out in, if memory serves me correctly, the July and August 2013 issues of The Trapper and Predator Caller magazine when he voiced his very well thought out opinions concerning the trapping organizations. One united group could fight the battle better than two…..that was his opinion, and mine, in most of these cases as well. I meant to pick up the phone and call Jim, who I do not know, have never talked to or met, but one trip lead into the next and I never got around to it. I know he took some heat for this, but the bottom line is, somebody with some common sense needs to stand up and say those things every now and then and put things into perspective.

I share all of the above with you because I was asked to do a seminar at the 2013 NPHA yearly meeting which was a couple of hours south of the house this year, in Wabash, IN at the Buck and Bass Club. I got to meet the officers, Jason Bruce, Dennis Voyles , Alan Herschberger, and Sven Setterdahl. All of them were really nice, respectful, good guys and I enjoyed getting to know Jason and Dennis better.

I also have a tremendous amount of respect for some or the moderators over on the NPHA forum pages, which should draw more of a crowd than it does. Guys like Cal Taylor, Randy Roede, Randy Watson and Steve Craig are first class coyote men that have countless miles and critters under their belts. It is a shame more folks don’t visit this site and ask questions because these guys are nice, polite and don’t talk or comment on things they know nothing about, which is so often the case on many websites. Beginners and serious hunters could learn a tremendous amount of information from these guys.

I am going to share several of my thoughts on the NPHA based on my first impression of the few hours I spent with guys and then thinking things over while I was on business trips, out trapping with my son Wyatt and listening to hounds at night under the brisk Indiana skies the past couple of months. The last thing I want to do is tick off any of these guys because I like them and really respect what they are trying to do.

I think when you start an organization like this, you have to have a clear purpose, or mission statement as well as realize this “race” is not a sprint or a “race” at all, it is a 1,000 mile ultra marathon in the 100 degree heat and there will be many bumps, bruises and hard lessons learned along the way. There will be many nice, well intentioned folks on the journey as well as a few sorry ones who have little good to say about you, your organization or anything else in there pitiful lives. Many of them have no idea about the rules and regulations that apply to a 501c3 of have never run anything other than their mouth in their entire lives, never gone out on a limb for anyone or anything, and don’t see much but disappointment when they look in the mirror and deem it necessary to run everybody and everything down, and you have to remember this, and possess a bit of thick skin to keep moving forward and not drag yourself down to their level.

You have to know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your “dream” won’t be either.

You also better know going into the thing, that more than likely, this is idea you cooked up is going to put a stress on your marriage unless you have a really special woman. We are built different and think entirely different than gals and that is probably a good thing the majority of the time. J

The big thing NPHA has to ask themselves in these tough economic times is, what do the members think they are getting for their membership dues and what are they getting for their membership dollars?

Right now, for $40 a year you can get your membership along with a year of the Trapper and Predator Caller. Magazines and print media are slowly dying every day. If it were me, I’d add a half dozen more magazines to the list to choose from, Fur-Fish-Game, Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, Trapper’s World, etc. I’d figure out a price for the NPHA membership with each of those magazines separately and then one for all of the magazines…maybe even a price for NPHA, NTA and NRA membership together…or a Ruffed Grouse, QU or Pheasent’s Forever membership ……anything and everything to make guys lives quicker, easier and most the beneficial to the sport and your cause.

The NPHA needs a solid purpose and plan that convinces folks to spend their hard earned dollars to join their organization. Unlike Quail, Pheasants, Ducks, Turkey and Deer, most landowners, livestock owners and farmers want every coyote on their place exterminated, so you cannot “sell” preserving coyote habitat like those folks can, YOU MUST WORK WITH THOSE ORGANIZATIONS AND “SELL” HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT WHAT IT IS THEY ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH ……. They are huge organizations and you will need them more than they need you, but the right guy or guys can make this happen.

I’d get the following people immediately involved with NPHA for a variety of reasons, some stated below. Gerald Stewart, the “Godfather” and his ties to HS, Mike Dillon at Foxpro because of all they bring to the table, Randy Anderson because of his ties to Primo’s and his celebrity status, World Champion Steve Criner , who is about to hit a “home run” with his well produced TV show and his ties to Flextone, and Les Johnson because he knows the tournament world and has stood the test of time with his show. Byron South or one of the MOJO fella’s should be involved. I’d get AP Jones over at All Predator Calls involved in this. He is highly respected and has built a very successful business on tons of hard work and solid family values. I’d round it off with Fred Eichler, who is the only guy on the list who I have not met and do not know. I am amazed at what a poor shot he appeared to be on early shows, but his enthusiasm and love for the sport as well as solid connections get him on my list. I am sure there are others, but those are the obvious choices that could immediately help out your organization.

Yes, I understand why there will be some friction with some of these guys because they are competitors, but the right person could bring them together for the greater good of the sport as long as you, as the leader, have a clear vision and can sell these guys and their companies on what your vision is.

All of these companies, magazines and individuals you are working with should have a NPHA membership mailer to slip in with every order that goes out the door, it is your job as a promoter and leader to work with these folks and make things like this happen.

I’d cut the newsletter from four a year to two a year if the laws allow it and make them nicer. You need to come up with writers and that’s another hard thing to tackle, the magazines don’t pay enough to their writers and you need to come up with something that makes it worth the time it takes to write an article.

Don’t nickel and dime the folks that are helping you out! Guys that moderate your website or write or do anything of substance for you should be “comped” a free membership. You do damage to the organization charging membership fees to the people who are helping build the organization and see virtually nothing in terms of compensation for their time.

Brent Rueb did put in a lot of hard work and did many things correctly when he tried the World Predator Expo’s a few years back and the bottom line is, they were a flop. He got all the big names in the sport to come in and do seminars and couldn’t draw a crowd… should have worked, but it did not. I think anyone trying to “reinvent” that formula is going to be in for a big disappointment. I know it is trying to gain traction again down in Texas and added hog hunters to the mix, but I am skeptical it can make it as a standalone event. I am skeptical the NPHA can hold a standalone event that can draw any real crowd with numbers. You don’t need hundreds to show up, you need many, many thousands to show up.

I think the NPHA needs to “hook up” with one of the Deer and Turkey expo’s in the Midwest and try to work things out and form some type of partnership with them to attempt to grow the organization. Moving an event here and then there and then over there, simply will not work with a small of an organization and limited fan base. Most of these Deer and Turkey Expo’s are not willing to “spread the wealth” or let you ride along on their years of hard work and struggles for free, so you will need a plan on how it will benefit their organization by letting you come along for the ride.

It will take solid sponsors, solid people, solid thinking, a well thought out plan and tons of thankless hard work to move the NPHA forward…..the good news is, they have already have most of those bases covered..

Good luck Fella’s!!!

Big Mark

Poor homeless Guy
You might want to share this with your wives in case they have an extra dinner guest some night…

I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless man who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner.

I took out my wallet, extracted ten dollars and asked,"If I give you this money, will you buy some beer with it instead of dinner?"

"No, I had to stop drinking years ago," the homeless man replied.

"Will you use it to go fishing instead of buying food?" I asked.

"No, I don't waste time fishing," the homeless man said."I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."

"Will you spend this on hunting equipment?" I asked.

"Are you NUTS!" replied the homeless man. "I haven't gone hunting in 20 years!"

"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you money. Instead, I'm going to take you home for a shower and a terrific dinner cooked by my wife."

The homeless man was astounded. "Won't your wife be furious with you for doing that?"

I replied, "Don't worry about that. It's important for her to see what a man looks like after he has given up drinking, fishing and hunting."




I get a lot of phone calls every year from great folks asking for my advice on calling critters, and I am always happy to help out nice, respectful people anyway I can.

One of the most common questions I get about my calls is from someone who has just purchased one and is driving down the road, dials me up and says, "What is that little spring in the package for?"

It is just prime example of taking things for granted and expecting someone with little or no calling experience to know what a lanyard is and how it works.

I think the picture below does a better job of showing what the spring is for and how a lanyard works on your new call.

Thanks for your support and good hunting!

Big Mark



Farewll Friend, January 2012

A Tribute from Zepp’s Predator Calls to our late friend, Dan Thompson

dan thompson copy

September 20th, 1943 – December 26th, 2011

On New Years Eve, 2011, the phone rang and I was once again reminded how precious, fleeting and quickly our time on earth, and this thing we call “life”, passes.

The message was from a friend in Nevada who informed me that Dan Thompson, at the age of 68, passed away the day after Christmas.  Born September 20th, 1943 in Niagara Falls, NY he was a long-time resident of Rawlins, Wyoming, which is in the heart of his beloved Red Desert, a place he seemed to know like the back of his hand.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda.

I think I am qualified to say a few things about Dan; I was lucky enough to spend several months with he and his late wife Wanda, back in 1997.  I was living out of my van, traveling the west and stopped in Rawlins to meet him.  I knew then, that instant, that it was a great day for me and have come to appreciate it even more as the years have passed.  What a common bond we shared, coyotes, and a great friendship that was formed.

Meeting Dan Thompson, when I did, and how I did, had a profound impact on my life.  Without him, the DVD Callin’ Coyotes with Mark Zepp and some of his Friends, and our small business, Zepp’s Predator calls, would have never happened.  I am forever indebted to him if for no other reason.

Dan Thompson was a Wolfer in every sense of the word.  He was a pilot and had a complete and thorough understanding of aerial gunning, traps, snares, dogging, 1080, M-44’s, skinning, tumbling, was an expert in coyote vocalizations and every other aspect related to coyotes.  I can say without a doubt, he forgot more about coyotes than many of today’s most popular names and most guys simply are not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Dan Thompson.

He often told me he was happy to have been born when he was and young when the fur boom hit in the late 70’s… of nights sleeping under his truck and gasoline stashes’ set out in the desert and living off the land. He named some of his calls after the special places that meant the most to him, The Red Desert Howler, and The Sweetwater Howler.

Although I frequently disagreed with his opinion of people, products and politics, I have always said that I am Dan’s Thompson’s greatest admirer.  Like all of us he had some flaws, some holes, some chinks in his armor and some of those got a little bigger as he got older, but don’t hold that against him, if that is the Dan you knew.  I knew him in his glory and can hear him laughing now, what a great guy to be around.  I know what a positive influence he had on my life and countless others and how much he loved this great sport of ours.  I am a better man, person, and absolutely 10,000 times better coyote hunter because of Dan Thompson.  Some guys can talk a good game, he could walk and talk it…..and shoot like few others. He had over 5,000 coyotes to his name, most of them taken in his younger years.

What an influence he had on our sport, this “little guy” who worked out of a make shift shop in his garage.  Many of today’s most popular calls and tone boards are copies of his original designs and ideas and it is a shame that we live in a world where he didn’t get a little more credit for that.

He came from humble beginnings and would give the shirt off his back to you if he liked and respected you.  He was uncomfortable in front of crowds and knew nothing about how to “market” himself as the expert he was in today’s world, he simply was what he was, direct and straight forward to a flaw at times. You didn’t have to wonder where you stood with Dan and maybe the world needs a little bit more of that in people. He would be the first to tell you he was far from perfect.

In the days since his passing, I have said to my wife at least one hundred times, “I cannot believe Dan Thompson is gone”, because to those of us who really knew him, it just seemed like Dan was part coyote himself and capable of escaping anything.  He aged well and put a lot of miles on his 68 year old frame and, if anyone could, it seemed like he would be the one to find a way to avoid that final dirt hole set, or snare that had hung for several months in a fence line, or get down wind and sniff out trouble and laugh as he went on his way.

But in this precious game called “Life”, Dan’s death should remind all of us once again, that no one gets out alive. Dan passed away in his shop, from a heart attack, almost fittingly, while working on calls.

He left a legacy behind in the calls that bore his name and the students he instructed.

He also left behind family and friends who dearly miss him and scores of coyotes who will sleep a little better tonight knowing he gone.

Although he was tough and hard and grizzled, he never failed to ask me how my wife and son were and tell me how happy he was for me.  He met me when I was young and wild and free but always urged me to settle down and have some kids of my own, “There is nothing like your own kids”, he would tell me.  I hope he let his own children know how proud he was of them, how much he loved them, but sometimes, those tough guys are terrible communicators… In our talks over the years and through countless hours walking to and from stands I can tell you that he loved his wife and kids more than anything.

I urge everyone who hasn’t talked to an old friend in a while to pick up the phone and give them a call. A few days before Christmas, I called Dan….  I had not talked to him in far too long and wanted to check in on him and make sure he was alright…. admittedly, most of our communication over the years was one way but that is just how he was.  He was upbeat and as positive as I’d heard him in years.  His struggling little business was back on the mend and his son was home, he was at peace and some of his inner demons seemed to be gone. I slept a little better last night knowing that the last words I ever said to Dan Thompson were, “Merry X-mas, I love you old man.”

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Danny Jr. and his daughters Estrella, Ivy, Jamie and the rest of his family.

Our sport lost one of the good guys; our country lost one who helped defend our freedoms.

Rest in Peace my old friend; I’ll see you on top of the Mountain.

God Speed,

Big Mark

dan thompson solo 1

A Few Thoughts from the Big Fella

Started by Mark Zepp, Sep 20 2011 07:53 AM


Hello Friends

I have been super busy with work, travel, worry, and trying to get our website back up and running as well as preparing for the upcoming hunting and filming season. I am super excited, motivated and look forward to putting together another DVD next summer. I just talked to my right hand man Eddie Hawkins yesterday about an upcoming trip.

Wyatt is growing up way too fast and Amber and her Mom opened up a small shop at The Bag Factory here in Goshen, IN.

Sometime around the middle of June, I received an e-mail which said this;


Mark Zepp,

Notice to Predator Professionals members:

The Safe Haven concept we offered to members of the predator calling industry is a failed experiment. It generated little interest.

We are changing the rigid TOS to a standard more consistent with a hunting website........etc.

I e-mailed Rich and he was super about responding in a positive manner. I have always liked Rich Higgins and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

As I read the above message a few times I had to answer the ever so important 5 W's: who, what, when, where and why. Who is running this ship? What are their goals? When will they achieve them? Where and in what direction is the ship heading? Why did it fail?

I always liked how PP's was set up and what it was meant to be... Lots of good guys then and now and a lot less bickering like a bunch of old women[

You have to understand that it takes me, and other guys in the industry, who, like you, have a lot of things going on, a considerable amount of time to come up with something interesting to read. Gerald Stewarts stuff was awesome. My buddy, Les "Hollywood" Johnson put up a great story, the legend and icon Gerry Blair posted, Frank Turkowski wrote wonderful stuff. What a great idea and how could it have gotten any better than that?

You also have to understand that every time you post, there is going to be some risk of childish behavior by a very small minority. Along with all of the time, there is very little reward, and no money exchanges hands each time an article is done. I get that, most don't. I think there are things and topics that need to be discussed that others simply won't touch. My goal was, and will always be, to try to be "the voice of reason" in this industry. I have no explanation or good reason why many of us simply can't get along or play well with others a little better. Most of us would be best of friends if simply had or made the time to sit down and share a couple of stories, a cup of coffee, or a sunrise....but this internet thing makes old irrational women out of grown men. Worse than that, a bad day or a couple shots or pop or warm beer in a guy and it divides friends.

I will say this, and it needs to be said.... Some of the stuff written over on the Dessert site is so repulsive, so off base, so wrong, and so goes against every moral fiber in my body that I simply can't be a part of this place if it helps anyone associated with what is going on over there. That type of ignorant and inappropriate behavior is just one reason, if anyone really cares to know, why "the safe haven concept we offered to members of the predator calling industry is a failed experiment". Guys who have sunk their heart, sole, guts, and their own pocket books into this sport and have limited hours in the day, can't keep sponsors and good folks from asking, "why are you a part of that or helping anyone who is playing a part in that type of behavior?"

]I have been equally disappointed with some of the stuff over on other sites. I don't know who did or said what to divide friendships and frankly, it is none of my business and I have too many things going on in my own life right now to worry about it.

But, I will say this, because, again, it needs to be said.... Friendship is not over rated and is far too often taken for granted. I hate to see friendships erode for any reason. Life is too damn short and the regrets always many when something bad happens to one of your old friends down the road and you didn't take the time to pick up the phone or drive out of your way to right the perceived wrong. I can tell you from experience, there are no winners when this happens, only losers and hard feelings at first, and then a deep sense of regret. It leaves you asking not only How, but dealing with three of the ever so important 5 W's. Why did this happen and, my God, What possible good has it done? You will not only dislike Who you see looking back at yourself in the mirror when you answer the questions, but more troubling, you will be forever disappointed in that man.

If Danny B. were around, I can't help but think he'd be kickin' some of your asses for the shenanigans that have gone on the last several months on some of the websites. If you sit out on your patio on a quiet night and listen to the coyotes sing, I am sure you could hear him talking to you, telling you to end your differences, solve your problems....they are few, the good memories are many, your time is far too short....if only you could see that, realize that....appreciate that.

I gave it my very best shot over here guys and darn sure hope you liked some of what I had to say over the last couple of years, or some of it at least made you think about things a little differently.

Maybe sometime, somewhere, down the road, we'll pull that truck of yours off the side of a two track and slip into that special place we discovered together and kill a couple. That would be damn nice.... I look forward to that day.

Come for a visit sometime over at I'll be back up and running over there shortly.

Warmest regards friends,

Big Mark


Questions from Indiana Mike!

Started by Mark Zepp, Feb 24 2011 11:17 AM

Dear: Mark
I've been living in a small town in northern IN for about 4 years now. I've been a serious predator hunter for about ten years. I mainly focus on coyotes and sometimes hunt with two other guys. All we do is call, we don't bait but we seldom get anything to come in to our stand.

We have watched a lot of videos, Randy Anderson and a few others. Our calling sounds like what is on those videos. We get response on locators, but we can't get anything in.

One thing I know is they are out west which is different from Indiana. With you being from Indiana I was hoping you had some tips.

We did our first hunting competition this month. I didn't go in thinking we were going to win it, but I thought we could do something. We didn't see a thing. We got some locator responses but that was about it.
This really disappointed one of my friends, almost to the point that I don't know if he will go coyote hunting again.

We can't figure out what we are doing wrong. We use mouth calls and a Foxpro. We use cover scent, but the coyotes are still far and few between.

As of right now I'm at a loss as to what to do. My friends are getting discouraged and I fear I might be also, we just don't know what to do.

One more thing we hunt day and night at all different times.

If you could spare some hints and tips that would be great.

Thank you for your time.

Mike in Indiana

Hello Mike!

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to write me a letter and give me the opportunity to answer a few of your questions.

Your letter covers several different topics, some of which I have touched on in past blogs, but some I haven't touched on before.

I completely, 100% understand where you're coming from and want to give you a little food for thought, which is another way of saying, I am going to give you a long winded answer.

I drove through your home town twice this week heading to a photo shoot for work. It's about an hour from Goshen and looks like much better coyote country than what is in my immediate area, its much "bigger" country with a lot less houses and larger farms.

Some guys know this, many don't, but I have always really enjoyed coon hunting and had hounds until I moved to Arizona. When we moved back to the Midwest this fall, one of the first things I did was buy a couple of hounds to turn loose on the river bottom close to home. I ran the dogs several nights this past summer and hunted hard this Fall and early Winter during season and never, not once, not one single time, did I hear a coyote in this area. One night, after finishing a hunt with my buddy Kirk Johnson, who lives about a half hour south of me, I heard one single coyote howl off to the south around 1:30am in the morning.... It is the only coyote I have heard while living in Indiana. I regularly hear train whistles and sirens when I am out in the woods at night, things that would "trigger" responses if there were coyotes within earshot.

When I lived in MO or for that matter, anywhere else I've lived in the past 25 years, you can count on hearing many coyotes throughout the night while coon hunting or camping or wondering around outdoors, but that just doesn't happen here for a multitude of reasons, the biggest one is that they're not a lot of them here. Days of killing four or five can happen in your area when everything goes right and you are shooting well and taking 100% advantage of all of the opportunities presented, but there will be a lot of long dry spells when nothing is going to come to the call, that is true here in Indiana and many, many places in the country. There are pockets and parts of Indiana which have very good coyote numbers, a little farther west and south of you and north and east of me, but there is not an overabundance of them and the difficulty in tracking down land owners and the number of "No Hunting" signs posted by deer hunting land owners ensures that you and I are going to have a tougher time easily getting to the best place possible to set up and kill them. Every time you have to set up in a place where the wind isn't quite right or you can't see quite well enough or you have to expose yourself for too long getting to your stand, etc, you are switching the odds back in the coyotes favor. Once you do this, and the coyote wins that round, and the truth is it is not as simple as it is in many places out West where you drive down the road a mile and make another stand into big country and call in more coyotes. Where you're at, once you put things in the coyotes favor a little, and he gets away, that may have been the only opportunity you'll have that day or for several weeks or the entire season if you don't hunt very hard.

Calling Partners
Finding the right hunting partner can be a tough deal at times. It's easy to get along with a guy when you're seeing, calling and killing a lot of critters just as your wife and friends "love you" a little more when the bank account is full and everyone is driving a new truck or Mercedes, but you don't get the flavor of anyone, in any relationship, until you go through some tough times with them. Tough times are a good way of "weeding" people out, to include women, friends and hunting partners.

I have been blessed with great people in my life, to start with my Pop, who wasn't a hunter at all but made sure I had everything I needed to hunt and trap whatever I wanted. Eddie Hawkins has been my right hand man for over ten years now and both of us have seen each other go through some big time struggles. He'd be my pick to call and kill coyotes with.... but all of my buddies, Big Jay, Big Jon, F-16 Phil, Jason, Jake, Allen and numerous other guys on the DVD's have shared great days and crappy days in terms of coyotes with me... but the truth is the coyotes should only be a bonus.

The same can be said about competing in local, regional or National calling events, THE JOY, MY COYOTE BROTHER, IS IN THE JOURNEY, so make sure you enjoy the journey, even if you're not calling or killing a daggum thing. It really is quite simple to do. Take a deep breath, realize that you're happy and healthy and enjoy the day, and your buddies singing out of tune to your favorite song on the radio, no matter how out of tune it is or how bad it sounds! Years from now, you will remember more about those things than the one "that got away" or never bothered to show up.

Competition Hunts
Entering competition hunts is great way to meet a lot of fine folks. I would go to every big hunt a year if I could afford to on many different levels, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

So you guys didn't call or kill any coyotes... NO BIG DEAL!! Do you know that about half of the teams who enter the big national contests out West, in coyote rich country, do the exact same thing, don't call or kill anything? NO BIG DEAL!!

Most of the time, the guys who win these events spend ENORMOUS amounts of time scouting out good country and formulating several winning game plans. The guys who win don't show up from out of state and shoot 15-20 coyotes in a day and half without a TON of work, effort and preparation. Even with a lot or work or preparation and scouting, you can do poorly. Winning tournaments is a full time job for you, your partner, or both of you and most guys don't realize that.

Eddie and I only killed three on the first day a few years ago when we entered the World Hunt a few years ago and called it quits at sundown because of that, but he had done a lot of work and put a bunch of time into scouting. Sometimes, things just don't pan out like you had hoped, that happens in everything you do in life, to include coyote hunting but I had a ball. I have tons of great memories from that event and the time I spent with Eddie. Although we've spent countless days hunting that I have zero recollection of, I can vividly remember many things that happened on that trip!

Cover Scents and Suits
I think cover scents, for most people, in most practical situations, are a waste of time. I think the same thing about scent control suits. In my opinion, they are gimics and designed to milk well intentioned folks out of their hard earned money. I don't think they hurt your chances, I just don't believe they help you out all of that much, certainly not as much as advertised, and in most cases make you believe something that just isn't going to happen: they are not going to fool a coyotes nose for more than a very few short seconds, if that long.

Since I lived on the border for almost 13 years, I'd ask this question: If these scent eliminating sprays and suits work as advertised, why are they not commonly used by illegal's to easily smuggle drugs into this country by getting past our narcotic dogs along the border? Because a dog can smell what's inside them just as a coyote can smell what is inside them.

I don't know what I am doing wrong
Mike, I haven't hunted with you so I am not sure what you're doing wrong but the fact is, the only thing you may be doing wrong is not calling in areas where there are a lot of coyotes. You know, I regularly talked to people in Arizona who claimed to have been calling for a year or two or more who just couldn't call or kill a coyote... I honestly don't know how that could happen, but it does. Sure a guy could get skunked a day or two here or there, but it's hard to not call in anything if you're making several stands a day for long periods of time in the coyote rich country of Arizona, especially early in the year, yet I talked to folks on a regular basis who called during the prime early months, who not only had never killed a coyote, but had never seen one. It is just impossible to know what they're doing wrong unless you're out there with them and the truth is, there is enough good material out there, easily available, where this shouldn't happen.

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that many times, the person in the club house or at the local coyote club meeting who is talking the loudest and has a lot of opinions on coyote hunting, OFTEN KNOW THE LEAST AMOUNT AND IS THE PERSON WHO NEEDS TO HAVE THEIR MOUTH TAPED SHUT AND THEIR EARS OPEN WHEN SOMEONE KNOWLEDGEABLE IS SPEAKING. I am going to use my buddy Eddie Hawkins as an example here. If you'd see him at a club meeting, he is very unassuming and somewhat shy by nature, but he easily calls and kills and spends more time out scouting and thinking about coyotes than 99% of most of the guys I know of. I have seen times when he's killed 100 a year and some guy who hasn't killed 10 in his lifetime is schooling him and telling him what he's doing wrong and how he should be doing it.

A guy doesn't need hundreds or thousands of kills to teach the coyote hunting basics to other people, but at some point in your career, a solid mentor with many years of experience and lots of animals will catapult your learning curve and quickly give you some recommendations on what you need to do differently to change your luck from bad, to good.

"I am getting discouraged"
When I lived in Missouri, at one point, I went calling 29 mornings in a row, making a stand or two before work, and called in zero critters, but a few crows and hawks managed to show. That wouldn't happen now, but back then, even though I was killing coyotes, I just didn't understand the amount of country it takes to call in and kill a bunch of coyotes. I THINK THAT IS THE NUMBER ONE MISUNDERSTANDING WHEN IT COMES TO CALLING. In the Midwest, a large farm normally consists of several hundred acres. Depending on how the land lays, you may only get one stand out of that farm, and if the wind isn't right, maybe none.

Our family farm was almost 1000 acres and really, a guy could have covered all of it with 3 quality stands, but as a kid, I'd walk the place and make 20 stands on the place. I see and hear this sort of thing every day. SINCE I HAVE MOVED BACK TO THE MIDWEST, GUYS TELL ME ALL OF THE TIME, WE HAVE TONS OF COYOTES HERE AND MY BUDDY HAS A "HUGE FARM" YOU CAN HUNT ON, IT IS ALMOST 100 ACRES!! Huge farms exist out west, where they consist of hundreds of thousands, or at least tens of thousands of acres of quality, wide open, coyote rich ground to pick from.
Don't get discouraged. As long as crows and hawks are showing up fairly regularly, you know your sound is good, now, is the wind right, the truck hid, did you expose yourself for a long time walking into the stand, does one of your buddies talk too darn much? Those are all common, common mistakes which keep furry critters from showing up.

"One thing I know is they are out west which is different from Indiana."
I could write about 20 pages on this subject and have touched on it at times and refer you to some of the things I have written about, particularly my comment on "Big Farms" and "tons of ground to hunt".... I would also ad that most of the time, guys who haven't produced big numbers are going to have a tough time teaching you how to get big numbers because often, they themselves just don't understand how much ground and how many stands are required to achieve those big numbers.

"We hunt at all different times, day and night"I have never enjoyed predator calling at night, it's just a personal thing, and it just doesn't turn my crank, even though it can be extremely effective and I've killed a few critters at night. Certainly, it is easier to "sneak in" on places and hunt areas with higher people populations when most folks are in bed or watching TV and their windows are closed keeping out the cold winter air, and certainly there are a lot of predators on the move when the lights go out. Where you're at, you can probably call all night long without being bothered by anyone but that wouldn't happen if you were out during daylight hours, there are just too many people.

Could you spare some tips?
When teams involved in any kind of organized sport are struggling, one of the first things their coaches do is go back to the very basics and practice those simple things and basic principles, the same one's they have been doing since they were little kids, over and over.

Because I haven't hunted with you I don't know if you're doing everything right, everything wrong or nothing right, nothing wrong so I will say these things and they have been written about and talked about at length by a lot of very knowledgeable, as well as unknowledgeable, coyote men.

In my opinion the most common mistakes guys make are not paying attention to the wind, and not staying hidden well enough while going into their stands. I say this over and over yet guys continue to make these two very basic, very common mistakes.

I will leave you with following and thank you again for allowing me to share a few of my opinions with you.

Fifteen years ago I had virtually zero responsibilities in life. I had just spent 10 years working for a company I was trying to buy into in MO and it was time to do something different. I had saved a fair amount of money, so I "checked out" of the real world for almost 2 years, mostly living out of my van in all of the western states, traveling the country looking for "Coyote Nirvana". Day after day, my biggest decision was where I was going to hunt coyotes that particular day and did I have enough kerosene in my heater to keep my van warm at night.

Although I thought I was a hulluva coyote caller, I really didn't know how little I actually knew until I was traveling through Rawlins, Wyoming one November day after killing several coyotes and stopped in to meet Dan Thompson. I learned all about "howling" from Dan and spent a couple of months hunting with him and it where I actually started filming my first DVD, Calling Coyotes with Mark Zepp. I can tell you this for 100% fact, many of today's popular names and DVD producers know very little about vocalizations and are not a pimple on the hind end of some of these old, grizzled veterans. I took me several years to really and truthfully appreciate what Dan had done for me. In a couple of months, he had passed on a lifetime worth of work which I will forever be indebted for. I remember at the time, thinking he was "crazy" about some of the stuff that he was saying, but it all panned out and turned out to be the truth. What a remarkable time of life it was for me as well as a real coupe to be able to spend this time with Dan and his late wife Wanda.

Two of the biggest things I learned from him were to "NEVER" mess with the wind and get my "Tall" and at that time skinny frame down and hidden quickly going into a stand. Now I already knew those things but out in that big country, he showed me coyotes that were coming in from a mile or more away and then showed me, when the wind changed direction, only for a second or two, how quickly the coyotes turned and left, often when they were several hundred yards away. He also pointed out coyotes which were leaving before we ever started calling, because I hadn't done a good enough job of sneaking into a stand. When you see this stuff happen over and over, you realize that a lot of really well intentioned folks with big opinions actually don't know what they are talking about.

Good Hunting!

Big Mark

Make sure you visit us at or sign up on facebook at Zepp's Predator Calls


Don't Stop Learning

Started by Mark Zepp, Jan 25 2011 11:26 PM

It was really nice to see so many of the folks who play a big part of our game at this year's SHOT, to include, the Coyote Doctors, National and World Champion caller and Predator Quest host Les Johnson, The Dillon Brothers and FoxPro gang, World Champion Big Al Morris, the great Gerald Stewart, Tad Brown, World Champion Steve Criner, Jay Nistetter, Randy Black, Barry Stewart, Bill Saska, Byron South, Mike Schoby and a pile of others I've failed to mention.

This year's SHOT was well attended and everyone I talked to was optimistic about the coming year which is great news!

Amber and I flew into Las Vegas a few days before the show to see old friends and get ready for the show. When she flew out after the first day of the show a buddy of mine, Bryan Lee, from California came in for a few days. Bryan is a great guy, is constantly thinking and dabbles in a few different businesses. Like me, he is a camera geek and always studying new products on the market.

He is not a hunter but really got me to thinking about something he said. He was talking about trade shows and the internet and a client of his and said he had to tell the guy, "Look, I don't care if you've been doing this for 2 years or 30 years, if you're not successful you've got to change what you're doing, you can't keep doing things the same way and expect different results." I had to smile because even though he wasn't talking about calling, my mind instantly went in that direction. Some guys have more experience in 3 years than others have in 30 years because they are out there hustling, trying, learning and keeping an open mind about things.

It is easy to get set in your ways.

Let me give you example.... Randy Smith from PA is a good friend of mine. We're both coon dog guys and trappers, huge O'Gorman fans, and share photos and stories a few times a year when I am out on the road representing Tri-Tronics. About five years ago, he told me about Lil Grizz traps for coon trapping. I was living in AZ and my trapping was limited to a few days a year when I retreated to my "boyhood home" back in Warsaw, OH with my buddy big Jay Darr. I was skeptical about these traps because I hadn't used them before but had caught at least hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of coons with footholds over the years. The thing is, even though Randy regularly takes 500-1,000 coons a year, it was hard for me to convince myself to try them. Once I tried them, I couldn't believe what an idiot I'd been.


Keep an open mind about things... there is always a better mouse trap, and in this case, a better coon trap, The Grizz.

This Fall, I met a great guy a few miles from the house who offered to put up my fur for a more than a fair price. He is a lifelong trapper, using 220's and leg holds with a lifetime of experience. This was the perfect deal for me because I just don't have the time to handle much fur. Before the season, I told him my plan, I'd drop off one or two big blue tubs off every day and pick the tubs up from the day before. About the third day into this, Allen flagged me down as I was pulling out his drive. "What in the world and where in the world are you trapping all of those coons!!!". I told him, but he couldn't believe it, .......he 100% couldn't believe it and 100% refused to believe it so just to say, "I told you so", I left him a few Grizz's to try on top of another coon filled huge blue tote box...... Uh-oh....

Now, he can't believe it. It's so easy and quick and lets you see that a lifetime of doing things one way doesn't mean there is not a better way... There are better ways of doing things if you'll just allow yourself to learn.


From the Fall of 2009, the first half of our river line, me and Big Jay. We had to stop and empty the boat out at 21 coons and 3 rats. If I told you the total for the day you'd say I was from Texas or wouldn't ever go fishing with me:)

Here's another example. Randy also comes to Indiana every year to trap coyotes.....what? Yeah that's right.... The same Indiana east of the Mississippi where many say it is impossible to call or trap many coyotes. He traps for 2 weeks and then heads home to hit the coons. In those 2 weeks, he catches between 100-170 coyotes, depending on the weather. That's more coyotes than most guys catch in five years of trapping and what many would say is impossible. If he could trap in the some of the western states which don't allow out of state guys and don't have full time government men, he would come close to doubling those numbers... but guys will tell you different because they can't produce those numbers so they say it can't be done.


As much as I love to trap coons and many other critters, the coyote still remains the king for me. This one hit the end of an O'Gorman snare.

If you're interested in trapping or learning to rethink how you trap, Randy Smith's DVD's on coyote and coon trapping are available for a touch under a tank of gasoline ($49.00), through many supply dealers of by calling him at (724) 525-1892.

Happy New Year's Fellas.... allow yourself to open up your minds on some new ideas this year.

Warmest regards,

Big Mark


The only downside of the Grizz's are the price, if stolen, and the fact you'll need to hold onto some leg holds if you want to catch any mink.


Circle of Trust - Congratulations and Merry X-Mas

Posted 06 December 2010 - 10:09 PM

Hello Fella's!!

It seems like ages since we last visited!

First, life in IN has been wonderful...

I have had a few coon traps set within a couple mile of the house and been following a couple of red hounds in the river bottoms around the house and having a ball, feeling like a kid again. I definitely needed that after a long hot summer in the basement editing our latest DVD. What a project putting together all of that footage is!


I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving, I know we did and my wife cooked three different birds for 18 people.

I am in the Chicago airport today, heading for a meeting in Nebraska on Tuesday morning and then down to Tucson the rest of the week for meetings.
When I fly for business now that we're in IN, my wife drops me off at the South Bend airport and I catch a bus for the rest of the 100 mile trip to O'hare. It was slow, very snowy, trip over here this morning.

Several thoughts hit me on the bus ride ..

First, congratulations to all of the guys at the World Hunt this past weekend.... especially Tony Tebbe and his partner Kerry Carver. I've met Mr. Carver a couple of times before and he has always been super nice and very respectful. Tony Tebbe, I met several years ago at an event in SD. When I met him, I thought he was very enthusiastic about our sport, but "pressing" to fit in.... I think that is the word I'm looking for but I'm not sure, but I didn't think he was comfortable around the group of guys in attendance. I could be dead wrong, but on that weekend, that was my impression.

From the outside looking in, you should know that I don't agree with several things Tony has done and reportedly said and he has certainly taken, to say the least, a considerable amount of "heat" for some of this stuff, true or not. He is a Iittle too self promoting for me, but then a lot of guys are and that is what keeps the world spinning around. I am sure there are several things about me that he doesn't like and that's fine, but I am sure, like most of the things that are said on the internet when folks have their differences, it is nothing that a cup of coffee and a few coyotes wouldn't take care of.

In total contrast, there are a lot of guys who shut up and put out big numbers, year after year, and very few folks out in the general public have ever heard of them, but in their sport, amongst their pears, the people who really know what they are talking about, they are highly respected. They know how tough it is, how much effort it takes, to go to bed late and rise early day after day, YEAR after YEAR, and shoot straight and keep going, even when it's no longer fun and their bones creak and their muscles ache. When comments don't pass the smell test, some of these well meaning guys, have a tough time with those statements because it is injustice to the sport. I get that and I think most guys who respect this sport do as well.

When you read some of these "over the top" negative comments, I think it's important to remember that a small percentage of guys, have nothing good to say about anyone. Those folks have a negative energy and bad karma floating around them and my recommendation is to take everything they have to say with a grain of salt.

I read recently where Tebbe said he'd been in on or somehow involved with 5,000 kills. I don't know if that is what he said or not, it was reported that way and I never followed up with it and don't think it's a big enough deal for me to pick up the phone and call the guy, but it's a ridiculously high number for anyone other than full time coyote killing machines who have worked in the field for many years to come up with or guys with many, many years in solid coyote country to come up with ......

I know this for fact, I have been misquoted and had tips and comments that I've submitted to magazines completely rewritten, to the point where they were not my words or what I had to say and did not address the point I was trying to make and taken completely out of context because the editor did not like my thought process or how the piece was written.... so I am going to give TT a break on the 5,000 animal comment until I know all the facts, which may be never.

My math says that 250 animals a year for 20 years add up to 5,000 coyotes.... That's a lot of animals and to reach numbers like that, I am reminded, like many things in life, it is a Marathon, not a Sprint. Lots of guys come and go, they make a big splash for a few years and then, women, marriage, kids, women (did I say that already), or other priorities in life, catch up with them. That is life and part of growing up and growing old. To hit those big numbers, you have to keep going, year after year and be willing to learn from and take instruction from guys and be mature enough to admit that they know far more than you do, especially during your early years.

I always caution guys about making any big or ridiculous statements as far as numbers of animals or years go as this stuff reminds me of "The Circle of Trust" from one of my favorite movies, Meet the Parents, and "when you're out, you're out and will never get back in."

I would also have to say this, from the outside looking in; anyone with a little common sense would have to agree that Tony Tebbe's 2nd place finish deserves a few accolades. A couple of minutes kept Tebbe and Carver from winning the whole shindig this year and if memory serves me correctly, I believe they placed in the top 10 last year as well. A year ago or so, Steve Criner got ridiculed for some comments and a few months later won a World Calling Title and sounded darn good doing it, I know because I was there and heard it. None of the folks who criticized him the most happened to mention that win, by the way, or give him any credibility for it. After years of ridicule, you can say what you want about Tony; I say congratulations Tebbe, on coming a long, long, long, long way in a relatively short period of time. Make no mistake, that didn't just happen without a lot of time, work and effort on his part and I think someone other than the general fan base over on PM should stand up and recognize that.

A few years ago I read somewhere on a site that none of the call makers or video makers entered the World Hunt because they had "too much to lose". I'm not sure what anyone has to lose by entering one of these events, other than a few bucks. I can't think of anyone who makes calls or the more popular DVD makers that hasn't entered the World Hunt or several other competitions at one time or another. The fact is, for small companies, the first week of December is the worst time of year to try to travel. Not only is the "Momma Factor" at an all time high, (Mamma Factor = Wife is tired of you hunting and traveling), the simple fact is that it is really hard to be away from your business that time, and especially that particular week or two, of the year. Try talking a farmer into going on vacation when the alfalfa needs cut or bailed or the corn needs picked. I'd love to go every year just to see old friends and visit with new ones, even if I got skunked year after year. It's just a great atmosphere and group of guys to be around. Someday, I hope that is possible.

Again Congratulations to everyone who showed up in NM.

I am minutes from landing in Denver so I am going to shut this down and do my best to get it posted from the hotel in the next 24 hours.

I promise to get back into the swing of things now that the snow has fallen and the coons have quit running in Indiana.

Merry Christmas to all of you from Amber, Wyatt and Big Mark!


Rules Violations: Steroids, DNA and Pooling

Sep 13 2010 02:19 PM

I've been doing a lot of driving lately, which for the time being beats a lot of flying, but both of those activities always puts me in a thinking mode.

I can't help but think, that no matter what game you choose to play in life, there are always folks who are going to bend the rules. There is something so seductive and luring about winning that turns good guys, well, into bad guys.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, all professional sports are rampant with steroid use. In baseball, it's the cardinal sin, in football it's an accepted part of the game. One just needs to look at photo's of Ali and Foreman in their heyday and compare their physical appearance to today's fighters. Although cyclist Lance Armstrong always tested negative, in the dirtiest sport other than body building, the fact that he had to come back into the spotlight after retiring, will ultimately be his undoing.

Many of you know that I have been fortunate enough to make a living by talking about coon hounds and coyotes and the products which are associated with those sports. In the coon hound world, guys have gone to great lengths and devised schemes to get around DNA testing in order to win with or qualify dogs for Futurities or Super Stakes programs. Every year, in the last half of October, hounds in PKC, or the Professional Kennel Club, compete in the Super Stakes or World Hunt and the winners are paid tens of thousands of dollars. DNA testing and other methods have been initiated so that a three year old dog is not competing against three other one year old dogs when they are turned loose to hunt as a cast of four dogs. It is amazing the lengths that seemingly good people will go to, to swindle honest folks.

While I understand the temptation of multi-million dollar contracts in professional sports, I am not completely sure, as it relates to coyotes or coonhounds, if this is simply for the "glory" or the money or a combination of both.

The back pages of UKC's Coonhound Bloodlines Magazine and PKC's Prohound Magazine are filled with the names of people who have been barred and tried to circumvent the system. At least 99% of the folks who appear on the "barred" pages have had it coming or been long overdue for years due to bad behavior. In the end, they simply got caught.

I have said for years that the three main hound registries, UKC, PKC and AKC, should join forces when a person is barred for what any reasonable person would classify as a "beyond belief" violation of the rules. In other words, if a person is barred from one registry, they should be barred from all of them.

A few years ago, a prominent employee and key figure in one registry's was caught in the woods in the middle of the night, taking dogs off of trees so that a friend of his could win the cast. He was fired and barred for life from the registry he worked at as well as the one his buddy was competing in, just as he should have been.

While it would have taken most folks several years just to show their face, a month later, he was competing in a hunt from a different registry. Next month, October 2010, he'll be on the cover of a magazine for winning an extremely prestigious and prominent hunt. Some folks deserve second chances, but after years of shenanigans, this guy didn't.... and I like him.. that is the toughest part of all of it. The only thing he ever did to me was disappoint me, but he has taken advantage of many others over the years.

I say the above because hunting season, Club hunts, World Hunts and other competitions are just around the corner. Although the game of "pooling" coyotes is certainly nothing new in this sport, it needs to be mentioned. As our sport continues to grow and prize pots get larger, and the notoriety of winning one of these hunts brings more prestige, there are inevitably going to be individuals that are going to bend the rules.

Unlike the above mentioned sports and organizations, as far as I know, our sport has no "governing body" or way of policing bad behavior other than a polygraph test after the hunt is over. The names and offenses that some of these guys have committed are never published that I know of and that is too bad.

I think all of us know that it is a very small, tiny, tiny percentage of guys who are guilty of these "crimes" and that the majority of the guys competing are A #1 fella's.

Shouldn't guys who have been caught pooling coyotes at local club, regional hunts or National competitions be reported to some sort of official board? When this does not happen, it alienates good honest people and the riff raff continues to come back.

It is amazing to me how many times the same guy or group of guys always seems to find themselves smack dab in the middle of some sort of problem or controversy. Why does trouble seem to follow some individuals no matter where they go?

Look, I am not perfect and have made my fair share of mistakes in life, but none of them ever had to do with coyotes. I am also not judging many of these guys but.. the bottom line is, for the good of our sport and the good of the game, these guys, when caught, have got to go and need more than a light slap on the wrists. They need to be permanently barred or banned from any of these organized events.

Good Luck in the Coming Months Friends,

Big Mark



Macho B Saga ends

Aug 09 2010 06:13 AM

Hello Friends!

It seems like ages since we have last visited. I have been extremely busy with everything associated with our move and getting into our new home.

For guys in Arizona, the story of Macho B, the Jaguar, has more than likely been followed closely and I touched on it a year ago or so in a blog but I wanted to follow up with it on the final saga below.

Hope you guys have had a great summer and are looking forward to some cool weather.

Travel Safe - Big Mark

Arizona Game and Fish Commission takes action against central figure in Macho B incident
Aug. 6, 2010

PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission today levied a civil assessment of $8,000 against Emil McCain, of Patagonia, for the prohibited take of an endangered jaguar.

The Commission indicated that the amount of the assessment could be revisited and potentially increased in the future if the Game and Fish Department can establish a greater value for the animal or identify additional recoverable costs.

The Commission also revoked McCain's Arizona hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years. Arizona is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which means that McCain's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges will be revoked in all the member compact states, which includes most of the western United States.

McCain's case was heard during today's regularly scheduled public Commission meeting. He was not present for the hearing.

McCain pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on May 14 for unlawfully taking a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act. His plea agreement detailed how he placed jaguar scat or directed another person to place jaguar scat at snare sites to intentionally capture a jaguar. The jaguar known as Macho B was caught in one of those snare sites on Feb. 18, 2009.

As part of his plea agreement in May, McCain was sentenced by U. S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo P. Velasco to five years of supervised probation with the condition that he is not permitted to be employed or any way involved in any large cat or large carnivore project or study in the United States during his probationary term. He was also fined $1,000 for the Class A misdemeanor conviction.

Some previous media reports and other accounts about McCain's guilty plea have incorrectly identified him as an Arizona Game and Fish Department employee or state official. As the Department has previously stated, McCain has never been an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and by the time Macho B was initially captured, McCain had no contractual or volunteer relationship with the Department. McCain acknowledged during the change of plea proceeding that he was under no authorization from the Department for the intentional capture of a jaguar.


Jay Nistetter/Al Lux Book

I was in the shop last night putting together some calls when I came across a box I haven't had a chance to unpack since our move out into the country last summer. I opened it and found a few of my misplaced treasures.

Several years ago, when the book Predator Calling: The First Fifty Years came out, I bought a copy and quickly did what no one who buys books should ever do, loaned it out. Then, last year, I bumped into Jay Nistetter while working a show and bought another copy, which I do not plan on loaning out. I feel guilty for not calling Jay and telling him how much I appreciated both Jay, and Al Lux for putting this thing together. Very few people can truly appreciate the amount of effort it takes to put something like this together. It is an excellent, very thorough piece of work. I've seen a review or two on this book over the years but I don't think any of them really do it justice. Hundreds of pages, 1200 color photos, hard bound and filled with interesting facts about the history of hand calls. This book is an easy read because there are so many photos and I think anybody interested in this game will find it fascinating. It is a bargain at just under $40.00. Jay has also produced a few dvd's, along with Byron South, geared towards kids and predator calling which are highly entertaining and educational for the younger crowd. Jay of course owns Rhino Calls and produces a limited number of hand calls every year and their quality is excellent.

Jay and Al, thank you for collaborating together on this book and recording a bit of history.

Good Hunting - Mark



A couple of weeks ago I was in Ft. Worth for a show and ran into John Everly, the Sales Manager at FoxPro. He looked like he'd been hit by a wrecking ball. With his arm in a sling, he limped, waddled and hung in there, fighting the good fight while working the booth for FoxPro. Most guys wouldn't have toughed it out, but I've got to give it to John, he had a great attitude.

Over dinner one night at the show, I had to ask him two questions.

He was happy to be alive and for the most part uninjured. Long story short, he'd been night hunting and the chair he and his cameraman were in had broken off at the base and both had been tossed. The truth is, and John knew it, he was lucky to not have been seriously or even fatally injured. The good news is, other than being banged up pretty good, he walked out of the hospital on his own and learned a valuable lesson.

The answer to the second, while we were sitting in Del Frisco's Steak house in Ft. Worth eating a prime cut of beef .... well yes, he was glad that Byron and Rod had not called earlier in the day and the meat I was going to buy for them he thoroughly enjoyed.

Stay safe out there fella's.

Good Hunting - Mark


My NW Texas Trip

Posted 16 March 2009 - 02:59 PM

I'm home today, taking care of, or watching and attempting to take care of, our son Wyatt who has been sick for about a week now. His fever is almost gone, but that little rascal is still fighting some kind of bug. The doctors don't seem too concerned, but he's not their kid either. Wyatt is three and a half now, which doesn't seem possible, and whatever he's got has zapped the good spirit and smiles out of him. I don't know that I've ever felt more helpless in my life. The good news is that in a few more days he should be back up and running at 220 again.

I got home from the great state of TX last night after spending three days in some great company. The folks from Advantage asked Byron South and I to participate in a photo shoot for Max-1, their state of the art camo pattern. Jake Fagan, photographer Erica, Byron and Lana South and I spent our days fighting the wind, rain and catfish buffet at Dutch's restaurant. It was a great opportunity to get to know all of them much better. Jake's a young guy but well beyond his years in terms of vision and maturity. It was interesting watching and listening to him answer questions and consider ideas. Erica is a wonderful photographer with the ability to see things that most folks would walk right past and not ever notice. She darn sure didn't have much to work with considering who she was photographing.

And Byron... it was really neat spending time with this guy who has spent parts of his life as a rodeo man, boot maker, iron worker and now is laying it all on the line as a full time coyote man. Many of you are familiar with the heartbreaking story concerning his daughter. Byron and I may have our differences, but we have far more similarities, and at the end of the day, it was nice to see and hear that God, family and friends are truly the most important things in life.

Good Hunting Guys - Mark


Tough Times

I am sure that many of you visit this site to escape the everyday pressures of life. I know that I do, but for those who do not work in the outdoor industry, many are unaware what's happening to some of the retailers in the hunting world. While Circuit City and others have made front page news, it is disturbing to see this hit "closer to home" when both Sportsman's Warehouse and G.I. Joes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the last two weeks. While both are trying to paint as positive of a picture as possible, it is likely that both of them may not survive in today's world.

The possibility of these two major players, as well of at least one other big box retailer, not making it out of the "other end of the tunnel" has dominated the thoughts and talk of many in the industry.

There are thousands who have lost their jobs, mid size companies who have lost millions of dollars and small mom and pop vendors who won't get paid and may go out of business as a result of this.

We live in the greatest country in world and I know that times will certainly get better, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with all of the folks that have been affected by this.



I've always had a few dogs around the house or out in the yard. I have never been a lap dog guy or one to have a dog around for the purpose of entertaining me. They, like everybody else, need to have a purpose and pull their own weight if they're going to see anything other than my size 15's. Some of that changed a five years ago when I got married. Even though I've always had hounds, her two Golden Retrievers were not a problem because they photographed well and earned me a raise or two along the way. Then, Henry, a long haired dachshund, came along a few years later and without a doubt, has never served any meaningful purpose or role, unless you count aggravating the day light out of me. I thought that just maybe, that was Amber's sole reason for keeping him around the house as she constantly reminded me how "pretty" he was.

Then, late last summer, Am and I moved out of town into some wider open spaces about 25 miles south of Tucson. This winter, I noticed that every time he barked, which wasn't very often, coyotes were passing through the back yard or howling close to the house at night. That's a pretty good trick and goes a long way towards rent, but it's still a little short in my book.

Last week, I was home with Wyatt who was fighting a bug. He had just passed out in our bed, because his bed wasn't comfortable enough. Trying to convince a sick 3 year old otherwise would have been pointless, so I laid him down and two minutes later he was snoring. Man do I love that boy! It was a few minutes after high noon, and although the nights have been cool, it was pushing 90 degrees outside and the air conditioner was chugging for the first time this year. And then, Henry earned his spot on the ball club. His few barks got me
up and on my feet. "Coyote", I said to myself. A pair has been kicking dirt out of a den not 30-40 yards off of our back patio and I wondered if she might be packing the first pups of the year even though it would be a tad bit early for that. In another week or two I'll put a trail camera on the den. I cracked our bedroom door, which leads out onto the patio and immediately looked up and out. My mid west upbringing had me thinking a thousand locusts were on the patio. A nanosecond later, the palo verde, cactus and loud buzzing had me looking down at a one highly aggitated, five foot rattlesnake. Now I'm not afraid of snakes and have seen literally thousands of them over the years at round ups and a few out hunting, but on our patio, around the house and under Wyatt's toy Mustang, well, it was time to lace up the gloves. I let the dogs in the house, thought about the holes I'd blow in the bricks with my pistol, thought about Mrs. Beretta who was still in her case and broken down from the photo shoot in TX a few days before, and then reached for a couple of shovels. It was hand to hand combat out back for a round, but by the time the bell rung, the six foot eight inch three hundred pounder with the shovels in his hand had defeated the five plus foot rattlesnake.

I have found myself petting that dog while lying on my lap, on the couch the last few nights... of course only while my wife isn't looking.



I have always had a fondness and weak spot for writers/authors. As a kid, I remember reading trapping books by the light off the X-Mas tree from Daily, Hawbaker and others while my moms Andy Williams records played Silver Bells. Those memories are still vivid all of these years later because of the magical images that danced around in my head. Dreaming of someday catching a few fox, coons, muskrats and mink, all in one day. That seemed almost far fetched then, but is expected now and met with disappointment when it doesn't happen.

Guy's that can really write, month after month, year after year, and keep putting out quality, entertaining stuff are a rare breed and I am, for sure, not one of them. I enjoy Gerald Stewart's writing and wish G. Blair would jump in on this board. I think Gerry is perhaps the most prolific and entertaining writer in our sport. Did you know he's written books on a variety of subjects, not just trapping or predator calling? Major Boddicker rates right up there as well and his stuff has always been first class and educational. These are guys who promote the sport without deliberately or shamelessly attempting to promote themselves or their products.

Times continue to change and more and more information is instantaneously available by pressing a few keys on a computer, but I hope that the magazine and book printing folks continue to stay in business. Not only do I still love to buy books and read magazine articles on our sport, but every now and then, when it gets cold and a few snow flakes fall across the Arizona desert, I play and Andy Williams Christmas record.

RX-1000's, MT Trip and our move

Jun 17 2010 03:28 PM

Few things cause you to reevaluate almost every aspect of your life like health problems do. While you're lying in that bed, it's a reminder of , despite your differences, just how much you take the daily goodness and kindness of not only your wife for granted, but many of your family and friends.

I just "came to" a few short hours ago (6/14) from another surgery to kill off an infection in my jaw which will hopefully end the problems I've been having the last few months. With ice bags packed around a fat swollen face, the first thing I want to do is thank not only Amber for putting up with me through this but several of you guys out there for checking in on me every now and then. I have missed well over a month of work out of the past three dealing with this thing and am looking forward to putting it behind me.


The biggest recommendation I can give anyone is to stop taking family and friends for granted. In the end they are what really matters and much more important than another coyote "adventure". I've been laid up for several days now and appreciate Wyatt and Amber more than ever. Sometimes a guy just needs a good "kick in the jaw" to make him appreciate life a little more.


Good guys always equal good times, whether coyotes are responding or not. Lt to Rt. - Jim Smith, Allen Alderson, Gary Williams and Big Mark

I had another wonderful hunt with my Wyoming buddies Allen Alderson and Jim Smith last month. Gary Williams from down here in Tucson came along for two very fun filled days. We saw a lot of coyotes, missed a lot of coyotes and learned some valuable lessons along the way. Ranch manager Brian McCarty OK'd our cameras and provided A#1 hospitality during our stay. This will be the last footage we add to our upcoming DVD which will release this Fall.


Jim Smith and Allen Alderson putting their binoculars to work. Big country calls for no less than 10X binoculars.

Binoculars are a big time difference maker when hunting in many situations, especially out in the big open country of the West where many times, with a little effort, you can spot a coyote before you ever begin calling. While I prefer 8x40's for much of the country in Southern Arizona they are simply not powerful enough in areas of big open grasslands and I switch over to a pair of 10x40 Gold Rings I own.


Leupold's RX-1000 did a "spot on" job in Montana and work equally well while shot gunning coyotes.

I found myself using Leupolds RX-1000 rangefinder quite a bit on this trip. The biggest reason for that was because Gary was shooting a .223 and I didn't want him squeezing at coyotes much more than 150 yards away when Allen and Jim had a pair of Swifts which would knock down animals much better without any spinning for the camera at longer ranges. While my 8X40's come with the rangefinder in them, the 10x40's don't, and at this time Leupold doesn't make a higher power glass with a rangefinder built in them.

Leupold I've owned several brands of binoculars over the years but, long before they were a sponsor, gravitated towards Leupold products.

The RX-1000 has been handy because I've had hundreds of thousands of" shotgun only" acres within literally, a mile of my house the last few years. A guy doesn't need or have time for binoculars in 99 percent of these situations, but I definitely think carrying a rangefinder into these stands and checking out your "kill zone" is a good idea. Suffice to say, there would be a whole lot less folks saying, "I killed a coyote at 85 or 100 yards with my shotgun" if they knew the facts. I'd sure .Jhate to fish with some of these guys I stick these rangefinders on the strap of my shotgun so they are never left behind in the truck and are easy to get to before turning on your call, but they will easily fit into your shirt or coat pocket. Most of time these area's a too thick to worry about using range finders, but a few times a day there is a perfect time for them. It is amazing how hard it is to accurately judge ranges from 40 to 70 yards at times. If you don't believe me, carry a range finder and ask your partner how far away things are while you're hunting some time, his answers will make you a believer in what I'm saying.

The very controversial Gary Clevenger has the best, most informative, well written, educational article on shot gunning coyotes that I've ever read. I believe it is available somewhere here on the pages on Predator Professionals and I urge everyone who wants to learn, and especially those who think they already know everything on the subject and can't learn anymore, to read this article once a week for a few months. It is that good and that full of ROCK SOLID, 100% educational information.

I love the size of the RX 1000 and never "missed" a reading on anything under 700 yards with it at all times of day.
There are parts of WY and MT that are beautiful beyond belief, but when the cool Fall days end and the snow starts to fly and the wind starts to blow, few folks can comprehend what Winter means when compared to that part of the world.

Our "Predator shop and tools" and the first load of "Zepp Possessions" are headed towards Hoosier country and are due to arrive in Goshen, IN tomorrow morning (6/15). The rest of the move is scheduled for the end of the month and with a little luck, we will spend July 4th in our new home.

Warmest regards friends,

Big Mark

- Beast Master

Aw Shucks, Mark. You are going to give me the swole head. Here I am, as you requested, posting. I have also added my three cents worth to the the thread dealing with delayed response. I intend to be a regular reader and contributor to this board. See you around. Gerry Blair



- Brett Michaels and Macho B

Some of you may have been following the story of Macho B, the only living Jaguar in the country which was "accidently" foot snared several weeks ago in southern AZ. This big cat has been photographed for years and Game and Fish had a pretty good idea of where this animal hung out. Since I know a little about trapping, when this was first reported and they said the animal was "accidently" captured, I was over 99% sure this was a bogus claim.

Somebody surely had to be smoking something to think that foot snares, set around Jaguar droppings, which were brought in from the local zoo, and then placed in the only part of the US where this animal has been seen wouldn't attract a little attention.

Long story short, Game and Fish placed a GPS collar on the animal after it had been captured and turned the big cat loose. A little over a week later, the only known living Jaguar in the US was dead. What's happened since then has been a political nightmare for everyone involved. The local liberal paper has run this as a headline story several times with word like "trapped" and "snared" prominently displayed for all the general public to demonize. This is truly one of those stories where everyone loses. A historic animal was lost and the general public is saddened and outraged, Game and Fish looks bad, the wildlife researchers involved look bad and hunters and trapping come out on the short end because we are tied to Game and Fish. Just piss poor in every aspect and I don't see a single positive that can come out of this.

The other night, I did what all guys do who are happily married, which consisted of "taking one for the team" and attending the Pima County Fair for the Brett Michaels concert. Sometimes, a guys gotta do what a guys gotta do, and since I travel and am away from home quite often, it was time to venture out on the wild side a little bit. While my wife was in high school in the late 80's and rockin' out to groups like Poison and a host of other geniuses I never heard of, I was drivin' my life away with Eddie Rabbit, Earl Thomas Conley, Keith Whitley and a host of other country acts that I still listen to and enjoy to this day. As much as it hurts me to say this, the show was really enjoyable and Am and I had a blast.

Like anything you'll ever do or any place you'll ever go, there are always a few knuckleheads around but the concert was enjoyable. I mean I'm not going to buy a bandana and cowboy hat and start wearing them around, unless my wife wants me to of course, but I think everyone had a great time.

Halfway through the concert I caught the smell of the grass that grows south of our AZ border and is smuggled into this country and couldn't help but wonder if the folks setting foot snares a few miles from the Mexican border weren't in attendance.




Last Friday I traveled to Montana to attend the Cabela's Grand Opening in Billings. This is Cabela's 29th retail location and opening this new store is a remarkable event considering today's economy. I ran into Mike Dillon and Abner from Foxpro and had an enjoyable visit with them. I believe they were chasing some bears and turkeys when not working in the store. I'm currently at a Best Western in Kearney, NE. Life on the road and travel, after many years of 100+ nights a year away from the house, I have determined, is highly over rated. I flew into Billings and will fly out of Sioux Falls, SD on Friday morning. I elected to drive, because it's pretty country to see and if it means staying out of another airport vs. driving through good coyote country the peddle pushing wins because I love to dream about those buggers, that I know, are just over the next hill.

It was also extremely enjoyable running into long time friend Dan Thompson and spending a few hours and sharing a couple of cups of coffee with him. Dan lost his wife Wanda last May and I can't imagine the pain and hurt that was involved in her battle with cancer and eventually her death. The Thompson's were very good to me many years ago when I was living out of a van, traveling throughout the West, hunting coyotes and trying to determine what my next step in life would be. When a blizzard hit and shut down the roads and I was unable to get home to see my mom in AZ, it was the Thompson's that I spent X-Mas with, in the blue collar, small town of Rawlins, Wyoming. How my life has changed since then.

Many folks ask me about that time in my life and I tell everyone it was extraordinarily special. I was in my early or mid 30's and old enough to understand that most folks were not and would never be in my position - Free, with no responsibilities and no one to answer to. I spent several months on the island of Maui and then flew back to my buddy Dave's farm ,in MO, where my van and trailer were parked and headed west. (Years later, Dave Hollenberg would be my Best Man when Amber and I got married) I traveled, explored and hunted for almost two years. The biggest decision I had to make, day after day, was where I would hunt, or which direction I'd head to explore the next little town. I learned, from all of those miles and cold nights and quiet times, that a guy can actually get sick of hunting coyotes, especially without a buddy or someone, or anyone to share those hunts and memories with. I also learned that it's damn good to have someone waiting for you at home. I didn't have a home base then and definitely didn't have anyone waiting on me. Those were special times, but after just getting off the phone with Amber and Wyatt, I can tell you that I can hardly wait to get home to both of them.
I spent Monday and Tuesday morning running a camera, for our upcoming DVD, with Alan Alderson and Jim Smith. Both of these guys were on our last DVD, Free Grass and No Fences, and are tip top in every way. Alan just had his 75th birthday and can out walk most guys half his age. We had a ball, killed a few for the camera and I think most folks will enjoy the footage. Both of these guys can shoot like you can't believe.

I had a meeting in Sidney, NE today and will drive about six more hours tomorrow for a meeting on Friday morning in SD.

That's it for tonight - American Idol just ended and I have to turn the air conditioner down a few more degrees. Yeah, it's good to not be living out of the tan van anymore.



Mothers Day and Rodney King's infamous quote

For Mothers Day this year, I bought my wife some frames and photo's from a trip we took a few months ago to the local Air Guard. Our new friend Phillip Faulenheimer had invited us on a tour of the base and it was some kind of interesting to see those F-16's and meet a few of the guys who help keep this great country of ours safe. Phil snapped a couple of shots of Am, Wyatt and I and I thought those photo's might throw a few points in the "atta boy" file to help offset the times when I fall far short of cutting the mustard around the house. They're still on the desk in her office and not stored in drawer somewhere to never see the light of day again, so maybe it worked.

I also bought her a Kid Rock CD. Never in my life did I think my standards would drop so low, but I'd heard a few of his songs off of the "Rock and Roll Jesus" album and really liked them and I knew she liked some of them, the stuff they played on the radio anyway. Keep in mind, I'm a Conway Twitty, Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Gary Allen country music lovin' kind of guy, so if I like some of Kid Rocks' songs, chances are, some of you guys would too. The album is a mix of greatness and sheer utter filth and disgust. Everything that is right and everything that is wrong with our music, and I believe society. At least a parental warning was on cover. I don't think I'll ever let Wyatt listen to most of this stuff, he's three and a half now, even when he turns forty and a half.

All of this foul mouthed rap music, as well as KKK rallies, pornographic sites and a host of other equally despicable things are done in the name of Freedom of Speech . I am all for Freedom of Speech but am sure our founding fathers are rolling in their graves as slick talking attorneys have abandoned common sense. In the mid 80's Hank Jr. sang the song, Mr. Lincoln, which pretty much sums up my views on several things in this arena.

What does this have to do with coyote hunting? A few of you have been aware of a highly controversial website headed up by Gary Clevinger. I've never met Gary but we have e-mailed each other a few times in the past month or two and he has always been very thoughtful and respectful in his responses. I would stake my life on the fact that he is a hell of a coyote hunter by a few of the educational articles he has written. You simply can't fake those ideas or thoughts or opinions without spending thousands of hours blowing on a call or pressing buttons on a transmitter, and I've never seen them spelled out as clearly as Gary has managed to do it. A guy has to have a lot of failures to go along with his successes to write as knowledgeably as he does. A few of these articles represent everything that is good, and even great, about the folks in this sport. His article and theories on shot gunning coyotes and his willingness to share this information with others, at the very least, is terrific. Gary's shot gunning article and Rich Higgins article a year or so ago in Predator X-treme Magazine on why coyotes respond to a call, are as good as it gets, in my opinion. They are well written, well thought out, right on target and the kind of articles that many folks can actually learn something from.

On the other hand, a lot of what he and others wrote on that site represented everything that is wrong with this sport and society in general. I won't go into details, but, I believe, anyone who spent even a few minutes over there, and had a shred of decency, had to be offended. Someday, over a pot of decaf, because I don't know if I could handle him on the regular stuff, I'd like to talk to him and find out what in the world his reasoning was for this. I never thought I'd quote Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along" statement until I spent a few minutes over there. Taking jabs at folks and stirring the pot just to stir the pot isn't healthy and I'm sure feelings were hurt and friendships were damaged, perhaps forever, by some of this stuff. It was just a bad situation to say the very least. This kind of stuff hurts every aspect of our great sport.

I was delighted to read the other day, from a hotel in Sioux Falls, SD, that he had shut this part of his site down and I hope that he doesn't find a reason to open it back up. I think Gary has a lot of great information to share with beginners and experienced people alike in this sport. The problem is, people in general , and companies have a hard time getting past some of the super offensive, over the top stuff. Guys like myself or Les or anyone else making DVD's or calls or are trying to positively impact this sport are going to lose very valuable sponsors and sponsorship dollars by being associated with what was going on over there. And that is a shame in many ways, because somewhere in that guy is a hell of a hunter who loves this sport more than most people who play it and never had any intentions of hurting it, but without a doubt, anyone who played a part in those threads darn sure damaged the game.

A few weeks ago, Amber and I had a BBQ at the house for the local guys who have helped out our small company. There was such a diverse group of folks that showed up. Doctors to ditch diggers, left and right wingers, men, women and children, many who had never met each other before, for a few hours, over pork and potato salad (and free beer) had the best of times and were great friends. To me, that is what this game that we call coyote hunting is all about.

After all of this, I have one question. Has anyone ever seen Kid Rock and Gary Clevinger in the same place at the same time? Both are photographed in identical hats and someone said that Clevinger used to have long hair. If Gary is actually Kid Rock, then my wife would really like hanging out with him, which is more that I can say for a few of you guys :-)


2008 World Championship

Back in December, Eddie and I headed north towards Cortez, CO to compete in the World Championship. Our plan was to arrive around one o'clock in the afternoon, sell a few calls and DVD's, register, and then head back towards Tucson and hunt close to home. This way, if we didn't do well the first day, we had a short drive home.

Eddie Hawkins, my partner for the 2008 event, had placed ninth the year before hunting with good guy Cory Davis, also from Tucson. I told Eddie I was "in" then "out" and to find someone else, but he couldn't, and we'd paid the entry fee, so in the end , I prioritized the weekend. As Zepp's business has grown, one of the biggest disappointments is that Eddie and I just don't get to hunt together that much anymore, so this seemed like a much needed field trip for the two of us.

I don't like to leave town or do much traveling in the month of December for a variety of reasons. The biggest being that I travel too much anyway, over 100 nights a year for my real job with Tri-Tronics, and December is magical for me in southern AZ. Wyatt and his mom are amped up for Christmas, the weather is perfect and it just feels good to be home, sleep in the same bed every night and slip off in the morning or afternoon for a few hours and shoot at a critter or two.

The best of plans.... I thought it looked like more than a 6 hour drive to Cortez, which was Eddie's SWAG(scientific wild a.. guess) and it actually ended up a little over 9 hours by the time we stopped a couple of times for food and gas. We got in town with barely enough time to check in, let alone find a spot to set up a few calls and DVD's. We quickly registered and 45 minutes later headed back towards Tucson. We checked into a hotel at 10 p.m. that night and had a 2 a.m. wake-up call in order to get to our first stand on time. Nobody said you had to be smart to play this game. We had almost 17 hours of travel time in the truck when the sun started to light up the eastern sky and it was good to get out, stretch our legs, load the guns and start walking.

I had a feeling we might be in for a long day minutes into the first stand. Three coyotes crossed at 300 yards out in front of us, one got a little closer, 265 yards according to my Leupold range finding binoculars, but they never stopped as they continued to circle in and out of cover to get down wind. Long before that, one of them gave a few short insulting barks, the ones that talk bad about your mother, and headed out. At 485 yards one paused and Eddie, who was 80 yards to my right squeezed. I thought a Russian Mig flew over on a strafing run. "What in the heck or something like that) are you shooting" I said as I walked over. "Nice try, an impossible shot." "Oh, he's dead", Eddie said, " He's laying out there somewhere." It always pays to hunt with someone who can really shoot and Eddie falls into that category. We got into the truck and drove what seemed to be an eternity, and there he laid, one stand, one coyote. The problem was, the more stands we made, the more we realized that the area had been hunted fairly recently. That's how it goes sometimes, especially in AZ where most of the land is open to public hunting. On the third or fourth stand, we had two come in about five minutes apart and I shot both of them, something I rarely get to do anymore since I'm running a camera most of the time. It was a little before 9 a.m., and we wouldn't get another chance the rest of the day.

I can say 110%, that if you're going to beat or get close to Big Al Morris and Garvin Young, you're going to need some dumber coyotes than we ran across because those boys are going to be stacking them up. No excuses, no this or that, they are going to be pulling the trigger. I believe they have some kind of ridiculously long streak of placing in the top ten for the last ten years or so, during which time they have also won three World titles.

Eddie and I had agreed that we would not head back towards Cortez if we didn't have at least seven in the truck at the end of the day and as the morning turned in to mid day and then afternoon, it was obvious that Lady Luck wasn't going to let that happen. That was perfectly OK by both of us. We had a big time even though we only ended up with three in the back of the truck when the sun finally faded behind the western range.

With an hour of day light left, I laid down fifty yards to the right of Eddie and he started calling. A minute or two into the stand, as I was comfortably lying on my belly, I was disappointed in myself, as my mind began to wander what that itch inside my pants could be. "What a dope" I said to myself. "Just concentrate on the area out in front of you. You can still smoke Big Al and Garvin with a magical amount of luck". A couple of minutes later, I said to myself, "You know, I believe there really is something crawling around in my pants. As a matter of fact, I believe there's somethin' crawlin' around in my boots, my shirt and my skibbies too." Well, my finely tuned, well oiled hunting machine of a body with years of experience, had laid down right on top of a big crack in the ground and in that crack lived about 100 billion big, black ants (using current administration numbers and estimates).

Luckily, only a few thousand had managed to actually get on me. There was an army of those big sized black buggars' crawling all over the inside and outside of my clothes. I realized my second mistake when I made an initial swipe at them while making an acrobatic, Ninja like dive to my right. In unison, like a finely tuned symphony, they proceeded to play their best rendition of "Let's Eat This Fat Bastard Alive".

Eddie yelled in the loudest fake whisper possible, "Mark, what in the hell are you doing?" "Ants! " I screamed in my best Chris Farley/Tommy Boy impression , "they're everywhere!" I was down to my under wear when I heard him say, "Run Forrest, run, you dumb.... something or other." When we got back to the truck, I pulled a bag of ice out of my Yeti cooler to relieve some of the pain. Depending on when you ate your last meal, you may or may not want to think about what a 6'8", 310 pound grown man looks like in his underwear out in the desert. I listened long and hard for banjo music before bending over to pick up my clothes.

I know that I am smarter than guys like Cal Taylor and Tim Behle and Byron South, because at some point I have heard or read where they used to pay money to enter rodeo's and get their guts, teeth, brains, legs and everything else kicked in, all in the name of fun, while riding bulls. The thing is, they just needed 8 seconds. I however, for a full two or three minutes, danced, moved, and tore my clothes off better than Travolta did in Saturday Night Fever, and wasted that performance on Eddie, who was not interested in watching.

I know a host of others killed more coyotes than we did that day, but if nothing else, I know I beat all of them in the middle of the desert dancing around in circles that Friday afternoon.

On the other hand, it was a coyote calling contest and not a dancing competition. You could argue that I paid good money to get my teeth kicked in by, not a piece of beef, but by Al and Garvin. Point taken .

One of my all time favorite guys and hero's, Gerald Stewart, MZ and World Champion Good Guy, Al Morris



PM Mod's - Please Edit this Post!!

PM Mod's - Many thanks for taking care of this issue.
I have been trying to post this on the PM website for several days and have evidently forgotten my password and haven't had any luck getting another one. I am going to post this here in hopes that someone from PM will read this, use a little common sense, and get this taken care of .

On a recent post in another area of this website, I saw an absolutely ridiculous comment the other day pertaining to Primo's and figured it would be deleted, or, at the very least, the title would be edited. Since it was posted on a Sunday, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the good folks who run this site and figured they were spending time with family and loved ones and they would eventually get around to it in a few days.

Now it's the end of the week (over a week ago now) and the post, "Primos Sucks" is still there.

Folks, that is disgraceful!

a.) To begin with, it is absolutely not true. Primos has a solid reputation, has a toll free 800 phone number and for the most part, excellent employee's. Call them back, ask for a manager, and I'm sure they will bend over backwards to get this taken care of. Every company and everyone occasionally make a mistake. Successful companies don't make a habit of it and I am sure they are interested in taking care of all of their customers, especially the ones paying big money for acrylic duck and goose calls.

If I were a Customer Service Manager at Primos and read a post like this, I'd send you two calls back as well as a copy of the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I'd also delete your customer file and politely tell you to do business with another company in the future.

b.) Posts with titles like this hurt our sport, hurt this board, alienate good people, are ignorant, and serve no useful purpose. Everyone has a right to voice their opinion. I'd like to think it could be done in a more respectful way.

c.) When Primos wanted to really get into this market, they hired the biggest name in the game to help them out. Certainly, they did this to make money. There is nothing wrong with that as long as they are reputable and producing good products, and they are. One could easily make an argument that Randy Anderson, along with the help of Primos, has done more to help educate people interested in this sport than any other company in the last half dozen years. Certainly, their combined efforts have produced DVD's that are educational, entertaining and professionally done.

d.) I'm a Fox News and "No Spin Zone" fan. I think most folks who know me, know that I do not like controversy or name calling or product bashing, especially on the boards. It divides us at a time when we should be doing everything in our power to stay together. It is the reason I have gravitated towards the goals at Predator Professionals. That being said, this post does not pass the smell test. I cannot imagine a post titled like this, with a serious tone, directed at well known sponsors of this board, would be allowed to run its course without being edited or deleted.

What has Primos done (or not done) to folks running this website to allow a post which says "Primos Sucks" to be viewed over 1,600 times as I write this?

e.) Earlier this year, at the SHOT Show, I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with many of the biggest names in the predator hunting game. All of these guys, like most of you, are very busy. Many of them have a wealth of knowledge that they could share on posts, but for the most part have determined that it is not worth their time because of concerns of being publicly lambasted or folks delighting in taking cheap shots at them. Then next time you read something educational from guys like Gerald Stewart, Big Al Morris, Les Johnson, Byron, The Doctors, The PP Boys and others, make sure you thank them for taking their time to share and pass along their info. If you don't agree with what they have to say, do so respectfully.

f.) I don't have a "dog in the fight" but.... several months back, I looked at some of the things that have been posted and written about some terrific people the last few years and was embarrassed and ashamed that I wasn't a good enough person to come to their defense. That won't happen in the future and I promise to be a better friend when I see some of this stuff going on.

Good Hunting - Mark


Summer and '10 SHOT

The heat has officially arrived in the desert of southern AZ. Am and I had been sleeping with our windows open at night and the AC running only a few hours a day. That changed with the start of the new week and we're running over 100 degrees a day now.

I killed the first scorpion of the year in our house last night around 11:00 p.m. while putting some calls together on the kitchen table. No matter how much you spray, you just can't keep all of those dag gone things out of the house and garage.

I saw four dead coyotes at different spots along the road on the 25 stretch of black top running from our house into town this morning. I'm willing to bet that most folks outside of AZ and TX are lucky to see that many in a year's worth of driving time. I wonder what it was about last night that had them up and stirring and out in front of the head lights more than usual? No doubt about it, we definitely are in the " Land of Milk and Honey" when it comes to coyote numbers. (Scorpions and snakes also)

Monday Night Football is still almost 3 months and for me, down in the desert, hunting season is still a full four months away. November 1st is my official start date unless I can get several hours north into cooler weather before then or somebody gives us a complaint call. I have never understood guys killing bobcats in the summer or early Fall, especially the past three or four years when cat prices had been on the verge of crazy good. Even our desert cats had been fetching the better part of a hundred dollar bill or more in many cases. Really, a guy can't even make a ½ decent mount out of animals killed during the hot months, so leave those cats alone until it gets cooler and they prime up.

The 2010 Shot Show is back in Las Vegas , January 19th - 22nd. This is not a consumer Show, which means it is not open to the public, but one can make a few phone calls and with a little effort probably get a pass for a day. Everyone reading this should try to make it at least once in their lifetime. Virtually everyone in the industry attends the show and you never who you'll see: Professional athletes, Hollywood types, The Nug, all of the Outdoor Channel folks and Country Music guys and gals.

Of course, if you're really into this sport, like me, you'll be far more impressed with all of the celebrities hanging out at the FoxPro or Hunters Specialties Booths, or catching Randy "Elvis" Anderson at the Primos booth or Les "Hollywood" Johnson at Legacy, or a host of other coyote calling super stars you see walking the aisles.


Three of the Fab Four - The Coyote Doctors - All are super good fella's!


The Predator Pursuit Boys, Jeff and Todd. They shoot the best night hunting footage on the market.


Good guy and Predator Quest TV personality Les Johnson at the '09 SHOT


Rod Haydel from Haydel's Game Calls and Jay "Rhino" Nistetter


Fellow Foxpro and Advantage Max-1 user, Byron "Coming to the Call" South at last years SHOT.


FoxPro's Grand Slam!

Posted 14 July 2009 - 09:54 AM

Summer in the desert is well, summer in the desert. 110 degrees blazin' Hot - yeah, yeah, it's a dry heat. (It's a dry cold I tell my South Dakota buddies when it's minus -20 and blowing across the prairie). Snakes, tarantulas as big as Burger King Whoppers, toads that kill your kids or dogs if they pick them up, centipedes big enough to terrorize you and lots of stuff that sticks you. Most importantly, it's a time to sight in that tack driver and make sure you are prepared for the upcoming season.

In the next few months, I will give you a review of some of the products that I'm looking forward to using on a full time basis this Fall.

To start this off, I'd like to talk about the FoxPro CS-24.

I have not always been a FoxPro fan. Their initial units did not look like quality outfits to me and it took me a year or so to spend my money on one once they were introduced. I was very skeptical but was more than pleasantly surprised when I used one. The size, weight and transmitter range were huge improvements over most of what was on the market at the time and the volume was adequate for most situations.

THIS IS JUST ONE MORE, VERY IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON! Don't open your mouth, form an opinion or talk like an authority on something until you have actually used the product you're talking about several times. I am constantly amazed by folks with big opinions who have traveled very little, hunted even less, used very few products or watched a hand full of DVD's, yet are authorities on almost every aspect of calling coyotes, or for that matter, much of life.

As I said, I was skeptical about FoxPro's unit several years back when they were first introduced. One thing I was never skeptical about was the Dillon's. I've met all of them at one time or another and have visited their factory twice while traveling in PA on business. They are first class folks. If FoxPro is not an honest to God, American success story, I don't know what is. Like all folks with any degree of success, they have at times, received ridiculous criticism. Certainly, no one with a grain of common sense can argue that they have out engineered the competition the last half dozen years.

I am not mechanically inclined in any way whatsoever. Like many of you, I get into my truck and head to work every day. I want it to start and get me from point A to point B reliably and comfortably. I don't need to know about carburetors or injectors and don't need our President to tell me who has been doing a poor job of building vehicles over the years. The consumers have already done that. Likewise, the Dillon's have my trust and I know when they introduce a new unit it will work just fine. That is how they have become the leader in the industry. They have listened to their customers and produced quality products.

What was initially a fairly limited sound library from FP has turned into one of the best on the market. Johnny Stewart set the standard for sounds long ago and The Burnham Brothers to this day still have a few of my favorites. Only an uneducated, very unknowledgeable person would ever argue that many of Bill Martz's WT sounds are dynamic and that his unit has never taken a back door to anything on the market up to this point.

HERE'S ANOTHER IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON. Never speak poorly of your competitors, especially in an open forum, or insult current, future or past customers, or make ridiculous statements about them or the quality of their products. Don't tell everyone that your competitors product is terrible when their product is in fact, more than adequate for most people. Especially, when you're a small business, don't openly challenge a large competitor in today's market and tell them they don't have the knowledge or ability to do something unless you've got a helluva pebble in your slingshot and can throw it better than David did against Goliath. Otherwise, at some point down the road, in today's tough market place, you're asking to get your teeth kicked through the back of your head.

Yes, FoxPro is a sponsor of mine and like some of you, I do not agree with everything that they, and particularly some of the people representing FP, have said or written in the past. Sometimes, well meaning people with good intentions seam to do and say the darndest things that I believe actually hurts FP more than it helps then. I don't have a reason or recommendation for that, but FP certainly does not control anything that I say about them, good or bad. With their terrific customer service and current products, I am not sure why anyone would have anything negative to say about them other than a few jealous folks out there who never really have anything good to say about anybody. I hope I don't ever allow myself to become that bitter and jaded.

I say all of the above ramblings to get to this point: Anyone who has liked a FP or WT unit in the past will love FoxPro's new CS-24. The 500 sounds you can put on one of these new units are super loud and crystal clear. I am not sure why anyone would buy any other electronic call on the market with the release of the CS-24, it is that good and $100 dollars cheaper than their Fury as I write this.

They are available through the factory or at good ole AP's at

Before I end this, I want to say again, and make it very clear, that FoxPro, Leupold , along with Advantage Max-1 are sponsors of mine. The support they have provided in the past has helped Zepp's produce, what I think, are some dandy DVD's with excellent footage. I am very proud to be associated with these companies and the excellent employees they have representing them. They are the "cream of the crop" and each of them is located and produces their products right here in the USA! That's important to me and hopefully some of you folks as well.

Good Hunting!




Be Careful What You Ask For

As a kid, I read articles about coondogs and predator calling with starry eyes and hung onto every word, hoping and praying that someday, just someday, I could be meet some of those people and possibly become well known or maybe even "famous".

I remember my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, showing up at our house and telling my folks that I was basically going to be "a wash out" because I couldn't talk about or concentrate on anything other than the half dozen traps I'd just bought from Herter's, my BB gun, and a Lazy Ike fishing lure patch I'd asked my mom to sew on my coat. What a miserable old wretch! My folks were awesome, had they not been, maybe the dreams would have stopped there.

Over the years, I worked, traveled, hunted and sacrificed, and hunted and sacrificed and hunted and sacrificed, at the very least, more than most people. I have spent literally, thousands of nights on the road chasing those crazy dreams. Many nights in my van, some of them under it, some in the seediest of motels and some in the very best, fanciest of places. All for the next great coyote adventure.

The journey and the early days are probably the most fun and memorable part of the adventure because as those dreams begin to turn into reality, several things start to happen. Although I am far from "famous", our little business is "on the map", so I am going to talk about a few of those things today.

a.) It is almost inevitable, but at some point, the dag gone business starts running you instead of the other way around. Along with that, the very thing that you loved, becomes a job and knocks some of the "wonder lust" out of your eyes. Instead of hunting almost every day and enjoying your time on the prairie, it becomes an effort to hunt almost any day, and now you have to produce when you do go. Getting orders from those big box stores is an unforgettable experience the first time it happens to a guy, but as the business grows, you're packing orders instead of hunting. There truly, are no days off and unless you are single, you better have one heck of a wife that supports what you're doing because the added pressure this puts on a marriage is something most couples can't survive.

Here's a little food for thought. There is a reason why the majority of my friends have been divorced at least once in their life and it has nothing to do with chasing other women, drinking or drugs. It's an unhealthy relationship with one of two things: coyotes or coon dogs.

b.) I am always conflicted when it comes to sponsors and sponsorships.

If you do TV, it's impossible to not have several sponsors paying large amounts of money to help fund your dream. They have to buy into your vision and if they don't, or change their mind somewhere along the way, it puts you in a real predicament. If you are relying on dollars from sponsors from larger companies to fund your projects, you better take a close look at yourself in the mirror and know that life and times are constantly changing. When the Marketing people you've been working with move on, the new sheriff in town may be reluctant to send dollars your way for no other reason than he's never heard of you.

Take one look at the Outdoor Channel and you've got to be blind if you don't see it. It's as simple as very popular and respected guys pitching Nikon products one year after pitching Leupold or Bushnell.

It is common place, but that kind of loyalty just isn't for me, even though I understand why it has to be done. I wonder if the average guy even recognizes or sees this kind of stuff?

Some guys who are producing DVD's will do so for product, and sometimes product and dollars. In today's tough economic times, new guys who have not yet produced a DVD or may have one DVD under their belt and are trying to find sponsors willing to shell out thousands of dollars are in for a tough times, it is rarely going to happen.

For the record, I didn't have a sponsor that paid me a nickel or furnished me product until I was finished and already selling my second DVD. Amber and I are lucky enough to both have great jobs and I did not want to feel like I had to watch what I said, or who, or what products I had to pitch. I knew what I used, why I used it, why I had spent my hard earned dollars for it, and hoped that these companies would like what they saw and want to be a part my future products. In some cases it worked out, in some it didn't, that's how it goes in life as well as the DVD making business.

c.) Another part of attempting to become "famous", are the personal attacks and cheap shots you take from folks you've never heard of, and most of the time, either has anyone else. I personally think that jealousy is what drives over 99% of this.

I said this in a blog a few weeks back, "Earlier this year, at the SHOT Show, I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with many of the biggest names in the predator hunting game. All of these guys, like most of you, are very busy. Many of them have a wealth of knowledge that they could share on posts, but for the most part have determined that it is not worth their time because of concerns of being publicly lambasted or folks delighting in taking cheap shots at them. Then next time you read something educational from guys like Gerald Stewart, Big Al Morris, Les Johnson, Byron, The Doctors, The PP Boys and others, make sure you thank them for taking their time to share and pass along their info. If you don't agree with what they have to say, do so respectfully."

The bottom line is, no matter who you are or what game you decide to play, you'll never please everyone and there will always be a group of people who delights in taking some form of cheap shot at you. It just goes with the territory. They couldn't, wouldn't, or didn't make it and are upset that someone else got the recognition and notoriety that they believe they deserve or have a real bone to pick with that person, or both.

I am going to bring up Byron South here, because I don't know anyone who has taken more "shots across the bow" on the predator boards than he has. In my opinion, part of this stuff, he is definitely responsible for. I think, looking back, he would probably agree with that. Most of it, without a doubt, though, simply represents the gang pack mentality of piling on.

Some of the guys responsible for this I like very much, respect even more, are extremely coyote knowledgeable and I consider to be friends. That, and my comments, or lack of them, on his DVD's, has definitely divided us and probably ensures that he and I will never be best buddies or hunting partners.

Most people who know me, know that I try to be unbiased and give a balanced point of view on things. I have never liked Byron's DVD's because I believe the camera work and editing on most of them is fairly poor and have often recommended other DVD's over his. That doesn't mean that thousands of other good, solid, hard working people, don't like his DVD's, I just happen to think they need to be better.

Many will accurately point out that none of that matters because he has pulled down some of the top sponsors in the industry. Make no mistake, I am "proud" and happy for him, and the industry, for his gun contract with Remington.

Because he is well known and has influential sponsors he is a key figure in representing our great sport. Bottom line, I expect more out of him because I know he is capable of producing a much better product with a little bit of extra thought and hard work.

I spent four days with Byron this past Spring down in Texas on a photo shoot with Advantage Max-1. This means that I have probably spent more time with him than most guys reading this have and it is reasonable to assume I know him a little better than most of you. We were together from well before dark to well after it on those days.

We have some similarities, (we both like country music and the B-Gees), and some definite differences which go beyond the fact that I am fat and he is skinny and that he can say a hundred words in the time it takes me to open my mouth.

I know that both of us spend too much time thinking about coyotes when we should be thinking about more important things and I also know we both love our families and children more than anything else on the planet.

I found it interesting that both of us treasures our memories from the small towns we grew up in and consider those small towns as "home", even though our lives have taken a few twists and turns and we no longer are able live there.

The guy is an extremely talented welder and has an "artsy" side to him that should almost make him a left winger, but he is in fact, like me, very conservative in his beliefs.

I've had some time to reflect on that trip back in March and here is what I've come up with.

If he hadn't paid his dues when he introduced himself to the public several years ago, he has now. If he stepped in "it" a few years ago, I believe wholeheartedly he wouldn't do so now. All of us has had a few rough stretches of road in our lives. His rocky stretch occured a few years ago and much of it involved the health of his daughter. As a father myself now, I can tell you, after visiting with him, that I can't even comprehend the personal hell this put he and his family through. So I'm giving him a "pass" on most of the stuff that I've heard about.

Fact = Only the lowest of low lives, the kind of people who I have absolutely zero respect for, would bring up any aspect or anything pertaining to his daughters illness in a derogatory manner.

No, we did not agree on how to hunt coyotes in several instances, but after reflecting on my time with him, there are probably more important things in life to be concerned about.

I think, most importantly, Byron South is a hell of a nice guy. I deliberately asked him questions that would allow him to ambush or say something derogatory about several individuals and he always took the high road. He never took a cheap shot at anyone throughout those days and he easily could have and in some cases, I would not have blamed him for it. That was refreshing, and as I've thought about, says a lot about a guy.

The only reason the 80-100 of you guys are reading this blog is because you're obsessed with this sport. Byron happens to fall into our little select group of "coyote hunting groupies". If you met him and had a chance to hang out with him you'd like him. He plays and is an important part in how the "outside world" views are sport and is getting better at it and understanding that role more and more every day.

As I said in the beginning, be careful what you ask for. "Fame" no matter what game in life you choose to play, always has a set of consequences, some good, some bad.

I think, it's mostly good.

Warmest regards,

Big Mark



Vehicle Profiling

Posted 10 September 2009 - 12:25 PM

Some of you may know that a dozen or more years back, I lived out of my van , the beaches of Maui, and cheap, $60 a week hotels for almost two years, looking for adventure, exploring and calling coyotes. That old 1991 Ford F-350 van and I shared several hundred thousand miles and countless memories together.

When I moved to AZ, I couldn't figure out why I was suddenly getting pulled over by the fine gentlemen who patrol our highways and streets on a regular basis. They would come up with the darndest reasons, like I was swerving when I knew I wasn't, or they couldn't see my license plate or .... It took me awhile to figure out just what was going on. You see, out in these parts, folks who drive vans or bigger, older, vehicles are always going to attract attention. It's almost like driving around with a bulls eye painted on your hood and tailgate. My old van equaled a drug toting or illegal alien hauling Mecca of a mobile, and I was guilty by association.

How could they have ever known the two us were harmless as well as very legal?

Last summer, Am, Wyatt and I moved out of town into a newer place in the country and my wife decided she didn't like how my van looked next to the new house, so one night I came home just in time to hand the keys to a new owner and watch it drive away. I don't know why I get attached to things like old vehicles, but I do, and it was hard to watch that big van head into the western sunset.

My replacement wasn't really any better, although my wife thought it was, and was a year older to boot. A 1990 4-wheel drive Suburban. Yes, she's got 4-wheel drive and a little more chrome and tinted windows and a radio that worked, all for $800 I might add, but we had nothing in common, no lasting memories, no adventures together, and I was beginning to think we, maybe, just maybe, we weren't ever going to be right for each other.

A month or so back, Am and I decided to start driving back and forth to work together. This allowed us to save a little gas money but more importantly, spend an extra hour or so together every day as well as drop Wyatt off to preschool together. So ole' Blue sat in the drive for a month or better without going anywhere, burning any oil or gas and seemingly needing no attention. I was getting used to driving Am's Tahoe by now and with no real ties to the big block Chevy, wondered if it was time for her to go.

Then.......last month... a new beginning. My US Air flight from MN was late getting into Tucson and it would be almost midnight before I got home. I'd been gone for several days and told Am that I'd stay home and hang out with Wyatt for the day. I can honestly say life just isn't any better when I get a chance to do that. I had told Wyatt I'd bring him home a surprise from my trip and hadn't done that, so against my better judgment, we fired up the "new girl" and headed to the store to buy a toy, "an Optimus Prime Transformer", whoever he is.

The funny thing is, that the turn signals and all the internal warning lights fired up immediately... that was kind of odd but we didn't have far to drive and I'd take the back roads anyway. I wasn't sure why, but after a few miles, things started to smell like soy beans getting dried or ground up in cattle feed.

I popped the hood and couldn't see the engine. Damn Pack Rats had filled up the whole front end with mesquite beans and cactus - three or four bushel baskets worth while chewing through the hoses and wiring. Better get home..... What we saved in gas money the damn rats had taken care of and added some retribution for that poison I'd put out last year, but forgot to set out this year.

I saw the local officer sitting a hundred yards or so off the road and didn't like the look of his lights in my mirror a minute later. "I'll explain", "It'll be alright", I told the boy. Problem was, along with no turn signal or brake lights, seems as if someone in the house had forgotten to pay the speeding ticket I managed to pick up passing through a small town in IN last Fall at some terrible hour of the night.

It's fair to say, they didn't "cotton" to that unpaid, long overdue ticket very well and I wasn't good enough looking or smooth enough talking to work my way out of that deal. A couple of minutes later, ole' Blue was ridin' piggyback on a tow truck and I was "stuffed" into a cruiser with my just turned four year old boy.

I am sure at least a dozen illegal aliens passed me during this process, but that's another story for another time.

Bottom line, new stories and my first real adventure with that big Chevy who seemed more than happy to see me when I paid her "ransom" a few days later...

Of course now I've got to spend a bunch of money to get her runnin' right again, but....

I think I'll keep her.












Australia and the "Texas Look"

Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:34 PM

I saw a post on this site talking about some footage off of an Australian DVD on hunting Red fox. Rather than add to that post, I thought I'd share this.

20 years ago or so, a much younger and energetic skinny young fella caught a plane to Melbourne and then another one to Sidney.

I seldom share this story because once you start telling it, people have a tendency to give me, what I call, the "Texas look", and you lose almost all credibility immediately.

Most of the folks I met from TX as an impressionable youngster had one redeeming quality. If you told a story about catching a 5 pound bass, they caught a 10 pounder a week and a half ago. If you killed a ten point buck, granny killed a 20 pointer last season. Now some of my favorite folks are from TX (to include you Gerald) but when I get around a group of "storytellers" while traveling for work, the majority of them always seem to be Cowboys fans.

Anyway, I got invited to go "Down Under" by a fella who was importing hounds to run deer. He told me stories about killing 100 fox in a night by trapping, poison, dogs and calling. I didn't even know where Australia was until I got on the plane that hot July morning in St. Louis but figured I darn sure needed to learn if any part of his story was true.

For a 6'8" guy, it was a miserable 24 hour trip, and I was skinny and in great shape then. The thing is, you leave in the Summer here and arrive in the dead of Winter there, which is a pretty neat trick.

It was an amazing couple of weeks.

Bottom line, their Red Fox don't act like our Red Fox. More like your mom's dog with a touch of our grey fox thrown in. I remember walking into that first stand with Paul, the fella who invited me, with four shells. We were a hundred yards from the truck and he's "torched off" because I only brought four shells along. I truthfully thought the guy was losing it. Problem was, he was right, I was wrong.

We commonly, very commonly, saw fifty or sixty Red Fox in a couple of hours of hunting at night from the truck. In one night I shot and saw more fox than most guys get a crack at in a lifetime of hunting in the states. The problem was, my buddy was so damn sick of a lifetime of killing fox it was like trying to pull teeth to get him to go. We killed lots of those buggers in the daylight hours to. I got sick the day after I arrived and every step was a chore, but it was some knd of fox killin' paradise and I loved that part of the trip.

Guys who think Maryland or any other state in our country is the Fox capital of the world simply don't have a clue.

I have talked with Eddie several times about going over there for a couple of weeks to film but can't stomach the thought of the plane ride and learning to drive on the wrong side of the road again.

I took a lot of photo's on that trip, but very few of the fox and I don't remember why that was. It didn't seem like that big of a deal then, but would love to have a picture of a pile of those Reds with some of my calls now.



Danny Batastini

Posted 01 October 2009 - 10:29 AM

I would never pretend to know, or be buddies with Danny Batastini, but his death certainly serves as a reminder to all of us about just how short and precious our time is here on earth and I'd like to share a few of my thoughts.

Bill Saska called me several months back and asked me to send one of my calls to Danny. I had first heard Danny's name associated with his efforts for his predator calling museum over in NM but knew nothing about him. Certainly anyone who loved our sport enough to attempt to put something like this together had to be "one of the good guys". Per Bill's request, I sent him a call and some of my DVD's to help him pass his final days.

There a lot of really great guys in our sport who make DVD's and calls, and many of them cheerfully did the same thing. They sent him calls and letters and DVD's and some of them went out of their way and visited him.

Others called him on a regular basis to check in on him and see how he was doing.

A lot of this was done because one terrific guy, Bill Saska, went way out of his way, above and beyond his call of duty, to make sure Danny heard from some of his friends and peers. I don't have any idea what their relationship was, but certainly, he was a helluva friend.

It's a valuable lesson and really shows how one person can make a big difference in another person's life when they really need a friend and a helping hand.

On a whim one day, I e-mailed Bill and asked him for Danny's phone number. I have spent some time recovering from back surgeries and know that hospitals and your home can be a mighty lonely place at times and thought he might like to hear a friendly voice. What a humbling and terrific time we spent gabbing back and forth, two complete strangers with one common bond, coyotes.

He talked of days gone by and hunting partners and trips and adventures and love gone wrong and then, in the end, finally right. Of coyotes and cats, sunrises and sunsets. "I wish we could have gone hunting together son", he told me "but I'm not going to get better, I'm not going to whip this thing". He hated that he wouldn't have another day to say, "Just one more stand."

He was astonished by all the outpouring of support for him. He had received a letter from Mike Dillion and the folks from Foxpro and told me that he and his wife and others cried as it was read.

I called him again a few weeks ago to get some comments from him about binoculars for an article I was working on and could tell he was struggling, but could also tell he was still smiling, still fighting.

I will remember him, this man I never met, for several reasons, but would like to share two of them with you.

He was unbelievably positive and upbeat, extraordinarily so considering his condition. He knew he didn't have long but never belly ached to me about it. The next time any of us think we are having a bad day, we just need to think about Danny and quickly realize, we in fact, have it pretty darn good.

My old boss, John Wick, used to tell me, "behind every old man was once a young man and they probably have a hell of a story to tell you if you'll just take the time to listen". The older I get the more I realize how much wisdom was in that statement.

As I listened to Danny's stories, I was humbled and almost felt ashamed. Although it's more than fair to say I've paid my dues over the years, as I listened to Danny, I couldn't help but think he'd paid more and put a few more coins in the pot than I had, and for that matter, more than most of us. You young guns out there that might be reading this, remember that.

I am really glad that he shared some of those stories with all of us here on Predator Professionals. They will help tell his story and remind all of us of days gone by.

Buy your wife some flowers on the way home tonight fellas, tell your kids you love them, take a few extra photo's of loved ones. Time is the most precious thing any of us has.

I'll see you on top of the Mountain friend!

Warmest regards -

Big Mark



Today's Coyotes

Posted 20 October 2009 - 12:33 PM

Hello fellas!

It's cooling down and that puts everybody in a better mood doesn't it!

This article is a touch different than what I've done in the past on these blogs because, mixed in with my opinions on various subjects, are some of my opinions and ideas on coyote hunting. I always enjoy listening to, or reading what other people have to say on various "coyote" topics and hopefully you won't think any less of me after you read some of what I have to say. I have never seen some of the examples I am going to give printed or heard it talked about on any level in the coyote game which is another reason I am going to share it with you here on PP.

I won't do very much writing in the ways of "lessons" on PP, because there is a wealth of information from a lot of extremely knowledgeable coyote guys here and many very interesting topics have already been covered.

I do plan on submitting some general education type of articles to some of the magazines for publication but I think 99.9% of the guys who frequent this site would not get anything out of these types of articles.

I have told Rich several times that I never really know what folks will think when I hit the "send" button but want to thank some of you folks that have gone out of your way to send me a message after taking the time to read what I have to say.

It's been a busy few weeks for me and I've been far from home far too much of the time since Labor Day. It's Friday night and I'm on an American flight headed towards Tucson, Mama and Wyatt. I got, literally, snowed in this morning in State College, PA, Penn State and Joe Pa country. It started snowing yesterday (10/15/09) and was still falling when they de-iced the plane and we took off three hours behind schedule a few hours ago. I was in long pants and a coat this morning, scraping the windshield and the pilot just said its 96 degrees in Tucson. Go figure.

I head to SD next week to get a few days of filming in with my buddy Big Jon Frohling before heading to IL for a week of work.

I was hunting with AP Jones and Eddie "The Hammer" Hawkins up towards the Navajo country last week and buuurr... it was chilly in the mornings up north, good coffee drinkin' weather for sure as the sun busted over the eastern skyline. While driving in between stands our conversation turned to shooting coyotes at longer ranges. (I'm not sure why, since AP missed one standing broadside at 40 yards, but that's another story for another time and anyway, I promised AP I wouldn't mention it again, .)Jso next time you talk to him, don't bring it up

I personally am mystified by guys who say they just won't shoot at coyotes farther than 250-300 yards because they are "out of range", can't hit them, or insinuate in one way or another that you must not be much of a caller if you can't get every coyote you call inside of 150 yards. I have to wonder what planet some of these guys have been living on, let alone hunting on when I see this stuff in print or hear it role off their tongue as if they were the anointed one. While I would agree that gettin' them close is always the goal, it just doesn't apply to the "real world" of coyote hunting, especially in today's world.

In the last couple of years, we (we being Eddie "The Hammer" doing the homework and squeezing the trigger) have routinely killed coyotes between 400-500 yards. Yes, you read it correctly and no, I do not fish.

Many of these longer shots take place for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, one coyote is already on the ground and by the time you get the second or third coyote stopped, he is a long way off. He'll stop out there for 30 or so seconds, maybe longer, maybe shorter, because he feels comfortable at that range, didn't get a good whiff of you, and just isn't too sure about what just happened. That's just about long enough to get him ranged, figure the wind, dial your scope and pull the trigger. A partner definitely helps under these situations.

"Pressure" is often to blame as well. Bottom line, our sport has experienced significant growth the last half dozen years. Area's that Eddie and I once hit that were near a 100% "sure thing" are no longer productive at any time of year. Many of these area's we no longer hunt at all because they are gunned so heavily by guys all year around. In my opinion, most of the guys doing this are really amped up about the sport, but generally, have the least amount of experience. The only way to learn and get better is to get out there and go, so it is a double edged sword. I know I educated a pile of them before I got things fairly well figured out. On the other hand, and I and think everyone should be grateful for this, there is a least 10,000 times the amount of credible material out now, DVD's, articles, etc., than there was when I was growing up. A beginner can significantly shorten the learning curve by investing in some of this stuff for under $100 bucks - Not much more than it takes to fill my Suburban's gas tank in the Summer months.

I DO BELIEVE THIS AS 100% FACT - IF THOSE SAME GUYS, THE VERY AMITIOUS AND HUNGRY TO LEARN ONES, WOULD LAY DOWN THEIR RIFLE AND INSTEAD, TAKE A CAMERA THROUGH THE SPRING AND SUMMER, THEY WOULD COME OUT OF THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH A LOT MORE ANIMAL KNOWLEDGE AND BE A MUCH BETTER HUNTER WITHOUT EVER HAVING FIRED A SHOT, WITHOUT EVER PULLING ON THE TRIGGER. If you carry a camera and are not concerned about killing the coyote, you'll be amazed at how many opportunities he'll give you to kill him, as long as you pay attention to the wind. You'll get to study them for a lot longer and learn how they react to certain situations and see them do things you've never seen them do before because normally, the only thing you're concerned about is killing them as quickly as possible. Since you're not shooting at them, you're less likely to be scaring or "traumatizing them", and giving them a reason to hang up.

I like to use the following examples because most people own a dog or two and can relate to these stories.

About 15 years ago, I bought a really high powered young redbone hound. She was 10 months old, running and treeing and loaded with potential. She went on to be one of my all time favorite hounds. Anyway, I brought her home and put her in the kennel and stuck a shock collar on her, set at a fairly high level. This dog knew how to hunt, had lots of natural ability, a ton of common sense, but knew absolutely nothing about obedience. She didn't have a name and wouldn't have known it if she did. The only thing she knew how to do was hunt but had no respect for me or anyone else. I lived way out in toolies then, so I cut her loose around the house one morning about a week after I'd brought her home, after she had gotten a little used to me. As soon as that kennel door opened, she ran by the house and headed for the timber at full speed. I called her by her new name and hit the button. She didn't care for that at all.... I called her again, and hit the button again and she came to me in fairly good spirits, much better than I would have had I just taken the dose of medicine that collar had delivered. Now I didn't turn her inside out on the highest level, just gave her dose of mid level discipline. I "bumped" her for less than a second both times. So where am I going with this anyway, right? For almost a full year, not days or weeks, after that, she would not go over to that side of the house or yard. One lesson, one bad experience and it was as if the boogey man himself lived on that side of the property. I have seen similar things happen with other dogs I've owned. I truly believe the same thing happens with coyotes. Guys are out hunting, not paying attention and they attempt a poor percentage shot or pepper one with a shotgun, and poof, that dude is out of there. He doesn't "trust" the area or the sound for a long time, maybe never. Like dogs, some coyotes are smarter than others, but once you mess up and give that rascal a dose of "bad medicine", he darn sure is more likely to pay a lot more attention to what's going on and hang up at farther distances.

I saw something similar to this happen last year with all three of our dogs. I bought and underground, Invisible Fence product and set it up around the back of our house. I did not follow the directions, set it on high, and sat down in the shop to put some calls together. A couple of hours of later I heard all of the dogs screaming, went out and pulled them out of the "off limits" boundary area. You want to know what happened next? For over a month, all three of those dogs crapped and pissed all over the back patio, even though they had NEVER done this even once before. O'gorman talks about "traumatizing" coyotes once they've had a bad experience, and they're never the same animal, much harder to kill. Here, three dogs had such a bad, "traumatic" experience, they were afraid to go out in their own back yard to relieve themselves. I don't think examples like this are "far fetched" at all and believe the more "pressure " we subject coyotes to on a year round basis, the harder the animals will be to kill and the longer the shots we'll have to both take, and make.

This is getting a little off topic, but I'll say a few things and then get back onto shooting coyotes at longer ranges. Unless a guy is doing ADC work, I personally don't like to see coyotes get hunted late in the Spring and into the Summer. Most of that is simply because I like to see as many pups as possible make it into the Fall when I start hunting them. It really bothers me to see pictures of guys killing bobcats through the Spring, Summer and hot weather. Most people don't realize or think about the pressure these high dollar cats have been under the last four years or so. They simply don't know that bobcats don't reproduce like coyotes, that they typically are very "poor parents" and the young can have atrocious survival rates. Pass on those spotted rascals until it cools down fella's. Those are my opinions, but the next guy, could fill pages on why it is the right thing to do.

Alright, enough of that for now!

I think, because of the pressure, coyotes just seem to "hold up" more than they did when there were less of us after them. Since we tend to almost always have a camera in on the stand, we generally look for more open country to hunt than many people do, so there is a chance that, if you hunt in thicker cover you don't notice this because you simply don't see it. If you're hunting back in the Midwest and out east, you may not see it because you don't, in general, see enough critters on a regular basis to notice it and form any kind of accurate opinion on the subject.

Of course there are many other reasons why he may hang up out there. He may have seen you walking in, may have a perfect angle on your truck, or just may not be in the mood because he isn't in the mood. Any of those reasons and many more lends themselves to situations where you'll need to make a longer shot in order to put another coyote in the truck.

It is easy to pick parts or this stuff apart. Eddie and Billie just killed 24 in three, half days of hunting and we saw plenty of coyotes up North last week, but I think everyone can agree, it's tougher to kill big numbers of coyotes, particularly later in the season, than it was even a half dozen years ago or so. I think most of that is simply do to pressure.

Good Hunting Fellas!!!

Ole Roo was a darn fine hound and got me thinking that, maybe, just maybe, dogs acted a little like coyotes under certain situations



DVD's - Bang and Flop vs. Talking Head

Posted 13 November 2009 - 11:14 AM

Two or three times a year, I read a post from someone looking for a good "educational" type of predator hunting video, not just another "bang and flop", but something they can "learn from". Most of these requests come from well meaning, well intentioned individuals who are eager to learn all they can about our sport but don't know who to turn to, or which direction to turn in.

The answer's to this question, which come from various people, many who admit to only owning one or two DVD's, always amazes me.

I would say, without a doubt, my biggest "pet peeve" in life is someone talking in an authoritative way about a subject that they actually know "nothing" about. Many times, no matter what the subject pertains to, the people who talk the loudest and act like they know what they are talking about, actually have no credibility and should keep their mouths shut and their fingers off the key boards, but they just can't help themselves and seem to have a "look at me, look at me" type of mentality. In my travels, I run into guys in the waterfowl, deer, turkey and predator business who advertise themselves as a video production company when the fact is, after a little conversation, they have never "produced" a single project but have lots of advice for others.

In terms of DVD's, the truth is Major Boddicker, Tom Miranda, Gerry Blair and others put out highly educational videos 20 or more years ago that thoroughly explained how to call critters, but in most cases, those videos lacked an abundance of coyote footage. I am sure one could go back further than that with the Burnham's and Johnny Stewart and a few others, but that footage is certainly not as available on a commercial level as some of the more recent footage. Bill Austin had good information on video tape as well as the O'gorman/Dorn videos. Some of this stuff was shot off hand and the camera work is close to atrocious, but the information is solid.

Most of it was darn good for its time and it's important to keep in mind that all of this stuff was done long before the digital camera era and guys didn't have the capability of downloading footage onto their computers and editing it themselves. I still recommend some of these earlier DVD's to guys who don't want to see footage of coyotes getting killed and want to watch someone sitting in front of a camera and listen to what they have to say about our great sport. I also think it's important for guys to see some of this stuff and realize that a lot of good, solid guys laid the ground work for them many years ago.

Jay Nistetter gave an example of this on his recent Coyote Safari DVD when he showed interesting coyote footage shot in 1959 by Del Western.

I remember running into Dennis Kirk about a dozen years ago at the EOS in PA. It was nice to meet him and I told him his footage would have been way before it's time if he would have just used a tripod and had better camera work. He told me he had run into a guy at a bar where they were eating lunch and "hired" him as their cameraman, which in my mind explained the camera work.

I can't understand why folks would want to watch anyone sit around and talk about coyote hunting when, in my opinion, it is much more valuable to watch quality footage of a lot of coyotes coming in and responding to a call so a person can learn to "read" their body language and see how these animals respond in that particular situation. It's tough for guys in the Midwest and out East to "learn how to read coyotes" because they generally don't get to see enough critters coming in to their stands on a regular basis to do so reliably. I also know that recently produced "talking head" types of DVD's take about 1/1,000th of the amount of time and money to produce than a DVD with a lot of coyote action and I personally, at this stage in life, find them tough to sit through.

But........ It is very important to remember that everyone has different tastes, and more importantly, it's a fact that everyone learns and absorbs information a little differently, some by listening, some by watching, and some by doing. I think a combination of the three is best.

There are countless books and studies which have been done on "How People Learn", and if it's any consolation to you, many of them don't agree with each other either, just like many coyote hunters don't agree with each other on certain topics.

I think it is a fair statement to say that Randy Anderson proved to everyone that people wanted to watch coyotes coming to a call and getting shot. Randy is a darn good guy and I still enjoy his DVD's and crossing his path once or twice a year. By the way, he did an instructional DVD, showing how to blow calls, where to blow calls, when to blow them, etc, a few years back with Will Primos which was excellent. I believe it is available in a combo pack with some of his calls.

Verne Howey, who most folks have never heard of and is seldom mentioned, is an absolute "coyote killin' fool" , also put one out a few years back that had a lot of talk time as well as some interesting footage. Verne makes a great set of shooting sticks as well.

Darrell Holland put out an extremely detailed 4 HOUR LONG DVD on how to call coyotes a few years ago. I never see it mentioned by anyone recommending a "non bang and flop" DVD yet it is exactly what many of these guys are asking for and even more frustrating, what many people say does not exist or has not been done.

My point is this, there are a lot of great guys producing really good DVD's these days and I find it hard to believe there isn't something out there that the average guy isn't going to learn something from or pick up a tip or two. Even seasoned veterans can at least expect to be entertained for a couple of hours, all, for what I think, is a bargain price. probably stocks the most comprehensive list of predator hunting/calling DVD's that I know of. AP is a buddy of mine and I consider him one of the most knowledgeable guys in the industry in terms of products that are available as well as DVD recommendations. He is also an avid predator hunter and all around great guy. F&T has several DVD's as well and I really like Shawn, the owner over there as well. Both of these companies have phones answered by good folks who can recommend the type of DVD you are looking for.

I am asked on a regular basis how to make a DVD, market them, about cameras and eqiuipment and so on. There are plenty of folks who are and have been much more successful than I have been so I don't think I am the guy to give advice on a lot of this stuff.

I do have a few opinions on making DVD's that are probably worth listening to though.

Once you have shot a little bit of footage, let a few people look at it and give you their honest opinion. By a "few" people, I do not mean your mom, your dad, your girlfriend, wife, husband or best friend. It's tough, almost impossible, to get an honest, unbiased opinion from any them. Remember, DO NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER. I think if this were done on more of a regular basis, it would definitely cut down on the super sloppy camera work and poorly produced DVD's that continue to come out every year.

The truth is, to make it today and have any remote chance of doing nothing more than covering your cost's, you will have to have excellent camera work and editing skills. Shaky footage which is poorly produced and gut shot coyotes is the norm anymore for 80%-90% of what comes out and you will be disappointed if you think anyone is going to buy something that doesn't look good, inside and out. No one in their right mind is going to pay the same amount of money for a truck with hail damage vs. one without the damage.

You will be even more disappointed if you produce excellent quality stuff and think this is your lottery ticket or "Hall Pass" to instant sales and celebrity. Like everything else, it is much harder than it looks and I really respect all of the guys out there who try extremely hard, year in and out, to produce a quality project. The buyers at big box retailers are often under paid and over worked and get bombarded with phone calls on an almost daily basis from guys who are trying to peddle "junk" as the greatest footage ever shot. It makes it extremely difficult for guys who shoot quality footage to get in the door because these buyers become "numb" to taking a chance on anybody new after awhile. It's also important to note that in today's tough economic times, many buyers for bigger retailers have been ordered by upper management to not take on any new vendors.

I am not sure why it is so hard for people to say something nice about someone else or compliment them on their hard work. Some folks just don't have much good to say about anything or anyone, and unfortunately, the internet seems to attract a lot of these guys who darn sure are not going to spend $15 on a DVD which cost you tens of thousands of dollars to produce. That's just part of life. The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone is to keep trudging along and keep moving forward but that can be darn tough at times. I will say this... remember.... your family and kids are much more important than chasing coyotes around all day, every day when the weather turns cold and that's tough for some of us to remember at times.

I have seen Q Wagoner post several times that a man who hasn't killed a 100 coyotes a year can't teach you how to kill a hundred a year. I agree with Q on this to some extent, because a guy needs to have several solid years behind him and I think just as importantly, studied or hunted under a guy, or several guys, who really know their stuff, before he knows what he is talking about. I know of guys in the Midwest and back East who call and kill 25 - 30 coyotes a year. If they were in AZ, or TX or NM, I believe they'd kill 200 a year with the same amount of effort so I am not always as fascinated with numbers as much as some guys.

I see lots of guys who think they know, but in my opinion, actually don't know near as much as they should and their ego gets in the way and they won't allow themselves to learn new things or at least listen to new ideas.

On the other hand, one could easily use the following examples. Most people would say that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, but he has been the perfect example and poster child of a "tire fire" as a GM and managing partner for the game he absolutely excelled in.

Wayne Gretzky, The Great One himself, was a flop in Phoenix as a hockey coach. Almost every move he made, player he brought in, and coach he hired, was a "grease fire". Some of the great coyote killin' men of the past and present fall into this category. They are not much on PR or teaching or public speaking, but darn sure have killed thousands upon thousands of coyotes.

I don't think that a guy needs to have killed tons of animals to teach the basics of our sport to new people interested in getting into the predator hunting game, which is much of what the seminar circuit is all about. I do believe he needs to have paid his dues in order to be somewhat "accepted" into the fraternity of his peers and if there is a perceived failure of the "sniff test", he is going to need some thick skin.

I wonder, for instance, because I am a country music fan, how someone like Taylor Swift is accepted by fellow musicians who spent years in smoke filled bars full of drunks trying to make a name for themselves. She certainly didn't have the miles and years behind her but is selling out shows and making millions of dollars. She certainly didn't have many "100 or more coyotes a year" seasons in her compared to a bunch of others, but has been super successful. I am sure that many "starving acts" resent her because of that. Some folks, every once in awhile, truly do appear to catch lightning in a bottle. Preparation + sacrifice + hard work + right place + right time = success.

Like everything else, there is usually much more to the story.

Hope you guys are killing some coyotes!

Big Mark




December and Merry X-Mas

Posted 16 December 2009 - 10:51 AM

December is my favorite month in the SW. I try to cut all travel for work and Zepp's off of my schedule because I know that I'll be gone at least 50 of the 60 days in January and February and unable to enjoy the weather, the great hunting and best months to actually live out here.

Today, December 8, it's a cold, blustery day in the desert and the clouds are hanging low. When they disappear in the next day or two, the mountains will be snow covered down to around 4000 feet. It's hard to believe the desert can be so dag gone hot in the Summer and turn around and make you scramble for firewood in the Winter months.

I was in Phoenix on December 1st and attended the PVCI Christmas Banquet and returned to the big city again on December 10th as a guest of The Arizona Predator Callers and did a seminar with my right hand man, Eddie Hawkins. A sincere "Thank You" to all who attended or stopped by and courteously listened to what we had to say and bought a call or DVD or two. Your input, suggestions and support are appreciated more than you can know.

I was gone most of the month of November mostly for work but I did sneak in a little filming time and set a few rat, coon and mink traps back in the rivers and creeks where I grew up in OH. My buddy, Big Jay Darr and I, ended up with 48 coons, 30 rats and 1 mink in a couple of mornings before I had all the skinning and stretching I needed. Jay's big freezer wasn't operating and the temperatures were fairly mild which meant we had to put this stuff up as we caught it. Most years I'm able to sneak out of town before the real fur shed work begins but that didn't happen this year and I had all of the "fun" I needed in pretty short order.

My yearly trip back to OH allows me a lot of time to reflect on many things, but particularly family. I have traveled all over the world, but, for me, nowhere feels like home as much as Warsaw, OH. The sun rises on a chilly morning are the warmest, the riffles that hit the bottom of the boat while heading down the river are the most peaceful, the hills the prettiest, the air the calmest. My folks have long moved out of that part of the world but "my family" and memories remain with each turn of the road and bend in the river.

My wife, ironically enough, has most of her fondest memories a few miles up the road from another town by the name of Warsaw, but this one is in Indiana, where there are lakes with names like Papakeechie and Wawasee. It's O.K. up there, but I find my Warsaw more remote with a lot less traffic and farther from the big cities.

Wyatt is 4 now and our plans are to head back to the Midwest sometime in the next 18 months. I would have a hard time looking myself in the mirror a few years from now if I had not exposed him to muskrats and deer hunting and coon dogs and Midwestern values and treats.

I have officially requested a transfer with work and now we'll wait and see what happens. More than likely we will end up in Goshen, IN. It isn't my Warsaw by a long shot, but sometimes, a happy wife is a happy life.

I see all of these things as positives and honestly don't believe it will negatively effect my coyote hunting and if anything, I'll hunt more than I do now because I will have to schedule actual trips instead of fitting a day or two in here or there. I'll let you know when and if that is going to happen sometime down the road.

This is a special time of year at the Zepp's house, I hope it is at yours as well.

From our home in the foot hills of the desert, Merry Christmas everyone!



SHOT - Smokers - GA on my mind

Posted 03 February 2010 - 10:33 PM

Fella's, it seems like it's been ages since I've posted over here and I apologize for that. My Jan and Feb's are a whirlwind of hotels and rental cars and for some reason, when I am on the road, my lap top gets a mind of its own. I have a few things written and will get them posted as quickly as possible.

I have seen a few of you out and about in my travels and as always, thank you for your compliments and complaints. It is always good to listen to you guys and hear what you have to say.

SHOT Show has once again come and gone and many of the industry guys were there. It was nice to visit with everyone, to include, The Coyote Doctors, The Predator Pursuit Boys, Byron, Jay, Mike, Abner and John, Lee, Rick, Joe, Fan Favorite Les Johnson, World Champion Big Al, Gerald, Gary Roberson and many others that I missed. The best thing about the entire show is the folks who attend.

SHOT was in Las Vegas again this year and is scheduled to return there for the next few years. Of all of the places I travel throughout the country, I have to say that I feel most uncomfortable there. A combination of the casino noises, the smells of cigarettes and liquor associated with them and the claustrophobic spacing of buildings, elevators and walk ways are, in my opinion, way over rated. I never cared for card games and there's absolutely nothing I hate worse than cigarette smoke - Plenty of good, friendly, knowledgeable folks smoke, but I detest the smell and you can't get away from it or escape it in that town.

I caught a jet out of Atlanta this morning and am headed back home for a few days before heading off to TX on Tuesday or Wednesday but was thinking about this:

Sometimes, you just never know how trips are going to turn out. I scheduled an extra day in GA this year for a photo shoot for work that was cancelled at the last minute. It gave me a chance to sneak away for the day and do some calling.

I've planned out detailed, weeklong excursions, several months in advance, and they've turned out to be "stinkers".
I've also been involved with last minute trips that I put almost no time and effort into and they've turned out wonderfully.

My definition of a "great hunt" has changed over the years and it no longer involves calling in lots of critters, although that certainly is a nice bonus when it happens. I simply want to hunt with nice people who shoot fairly well, don't feel like they need to try to impress me every 10 minutes or so with outrages claims or name dropping and preferably who don't smoke or feel the need to head to the local tavern at the end of the day. Because time is all of our most precious commodity, all knuckleheads and knucklehead behavior is not tolerated.

I also want guys to realize that "shooting several coyotes" is fun, but much different than "filming and shooting several coyotes". I seldom hunt without a camera. I escape for a few minutes every now and then around the house to do some calling by myself in a "shotgun only" area north of the house, but never leave the camera at home if I'm taking a trip somewhere. To justify the time away from home, I've got to be able to tell a story and can't do that without quality footage.

To keep our DVD's interesting and I hope entertaining, I think it's important to show some new faces each time we put a project together. I'm happy to say I've met some really wonderful people over the years because of this.
My latest trip is a perfect example. A fellow from GA called me for donations for a predator hunt he was trying to pull off, the first ever, GA State Championship. Our little company gets over 100 requests a year for give away and free product and can't possibly donate to all of them, but Rick Ward seemed like a nice enough guy and I sent a few things out. During that short conversation, he invited me for a hunt and when my plans for work fell through, we ended up taking advantage of the day.

For close to 20 years I've worked this event, the UKC Winter Classic, which oddly enough, happens to be within 5 miles of his house.

Rick, his son Matthew and I shared a great day out in the GA countryside. We walked, talked, laughed, ate some great southern cooking, drove around, met some fine folks and managed to get in six stands in between all of those festivities. Two of the stands were blanks, but four produced and we even pulled off a "first" for me, a coyote- bobcat double on the last stand of the day and put all of it on tape. I've hunted a hundred times harder to get a thousand times less than we did on that enjoyable day.

Many thank to Rick and Jennifer Ward and their three fine children for a great day!


OK - So it's Wednesday now and I'm back in a plane headed for a show in TX. My wife flew to IN this morning to look at the house she's been dreaming about for the last year and visit her Grandmother. Wyatt will be picked up at school this afternoon by my wife's folks who live in Tucson, about 30 miles north of our place and enjoy the next few days getting to hear the word "yes" to his every wish and demand.

Cal "The Real Deal" Taylor called me yesterday about a problem with his Tri-Tronics unit and I think we got things worked out for him. I look forward to meeting him in Columbus at the Predator Expo next month where I'll be at the booth. Most folks can't fathom the amount of time and effort that goes into a G-Man's job, where you have to take care of and target certain animals. There is a tremendous amount of information that can be learned from guys like Cal. I've spent a lot of time in Wyoming, which is where Cal lives, and can tell you, without a doubt, it's a damn tough place to live in the Winter months. The wind howls and the snow blows day after day after day. It can be a treacherous place to try to call a coyote when all of that is going on as well but.... when it's good, it is darn good.

Alright, that's it for now, I'll try to post a few pictures from my GA hunt and let you know how next week turns out, when I've got three really good buddies coming in for three days of hunting in the SW.

Warmest regards - Big Mark

_Rick Ward

Rick Ward and his Coyote and Bobcat double!



My Thoughts on 2010 EXPO

Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:59 PM

I have read many folks thoughts over the last few years regarding the first Expo and the upcoming event in Columbus, OH, March 19th-21st, 2010. Some of these are well thought out, the majority of them are not and are little more than childish tirades and immature bashing.

Since many have given their two cents worth on the subject of the EXPO, I am going to give you mine. Realizing that this board gets very little traffic in the broad scheme of things, I am going to abandon, as many who post on this topic have done, the age old adage of "praise in public, criticize in private".

For me personally, the most disappointing "Expo bashing" recently came from Lance Homman, a T&PC column writer who said, ""As far as the Expo, no. It was suggested that it would be a great opportunity for me to meet people. I have met or have regular contact with everyone I want to meet, and I don't have a company paying my expenses and shelling out per diems for me to stand round shaking hands and playing "one-up me". Pretty hard to make the math produce a way I could make more than a dollar from going for every dollar it cost me to show up. That, and I have no interest in seeing Ohio. Too many city folks.""

Really.....? Lance, you should know that I enjoy your columns in T&PC, am a fan of yours, and think you have done an excellent job filling the shoes of the great Gerry Blair, but I could literally fill up 10 pages on why comments like this are so wrong in so many ways, especially from a guy like yourself. I was actually looking forward to meeting you at the Expo. I'm not sure how anyone in a position of power could write something like this but hope this is your "Zumbo moment" and you keep writing positive things about the sport that all of us love.

Most of the last 20+ years of my life has been spent attending or being a part of some sort of trade show or event in the outdoor industry. I am by no means an expert on the subject of them but 100-150 nights a year on the road over this time frame probably gives me a little better perspective than most people have. Because I spend so much time away from home for my "real job", the last thing I am really interested in doing is spending additional time away from home in another convention center, fair grounds or retail store front for the "Zepp's" business, but it is necessary to help grow our small company. I've know Brent for several years. We are far from hunting buddies or good friends but he has always been very respectful towards me and I've tried to be likewise. I have given him my opinion on certain subjects when he didn't ask for them, and even though we disagreed, we've remained friends. When he asked me to attend I was a little hesitant, but when AP Jones, who owns asked me to help out in his booth, it seemed like an absolute "no brainer".

You know, I have to admire Brent Rueb for trying to pull this Expo idea off. Most events like this require at least 10,000 times more time and effort than most people can possibly comprehend. The people in charge are often criticized and seldom thanked. Yes, I realize that is part of the "deal" when you're charging booth space fee's and setting up schedules, but a lot of things I read or people I talk to think Rueb is getting "rich" off of this deal. That is beyond laughable at this point. Brent may be able to turn this into a money maker some time down the road, but for now, it is a break even proposition at best.

I have some doubts about the future of this event and a few of them are listed below. It will be interesting to see how things turn out in a few weeks.

a.) Want good news! OH is one of the largest fur producing states in the country and it is surrounded by other large fur producing states. Lots of hunters and trappers live close by. Columbus should be able to draw from large population areas in IN,IL , MI and PA. I am certainly hoping it does! Yes our game is big out West, but this event needs lots of people within a reasonable driving distance to make the dollars involved in renting an Expo center ever have a chance on working out.

b.) Bad news -All of these great states have been really impacted by our current economic times. Parts of OH and IN have the largest unemployment numbers in the US. It may be a tough sell to have the Predator Expo in a different hall than the Deer and Turkey Expo and charge those folks additional dollars to get in the door.

c.) Vendors. To keep the vendors happy you have to have people. To keep the people happy, you have to have vendors. Big time organizations like Ducks Unlimited, have failed miserably and fallen flat on their faces in years past trying to pull off events similar to this. If the Expo fails to draw numbers this year I think vendor participation will suffer in the future and in turn jeopardize the event. I am pulling for Brent and his sponsors and hope it is a smashing success.

d.) Seminar Speakers. To me, this event is built on the back of several key guys in the industry. I think this aspect, the educational aspect, should be pushed and marketed far more than it is. The bottom line is, people will attend this event to meet, see or be entertained by Randy Anderson, Les Johnson, Big Al Morris, Gerald Stewart, Byron South, and The Predator Pursuit Boys, period. That's the draw and what makes this event special. Most of them realize they won't make a dime there once travel expenses are figured in. The problem is, these recognizable names can go other places and do seminars and actually make a little money. Randy Anderson alone, as in all by himself, drew over a thousand people at a MI seminar a year or two ago and received VIP treatment from the store and fans. In other major sports, important people in the industry receive travel expenses, booth expenses and excellent treatment from the hosts. Going into the Expo, these guys know that two of those three things have not been done.

e.) Our little sport is growing, but we have a long, long way to go.

I look forward to meeting several of you in The Buckeye State!



2010 Expo Photo's and Thoughts

Posted 23 March 2010 - 01:48 PM

High winds in Dallas have delayed my flight home out of Columbus, OH, home of the 2010 Expo, but with some luck everyone will make their connections out of Dallas and get home tonight. It's been a long 10 week stretch of travel for me and I am looking forward to being home for the next month or two.

A flood of different emotions hit me when I arrived at the Expo Center in Columbus as my mind drifted back to the great times I had as a kid on the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Showing cattle, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Eddie Rabbit concerts as well as a host of other great times as a young ‘un and college kid. The Ohio Historical Center is, literally, located right across the street from this year's Expo and for many years, my Grandfather served at the President and Director of the place. I could see him smiling as I drove up to the aging facility.


The Ultimate Predator Team had a great looking booth!

The plane delay actually turned out pretty nice as I ran into Randy Anderson , who had his 88 year old mother along for the trip to visit relatives in OH, and Glenn Guess and his wife in a restaurant at the airport next to our departure gate. Randy and Glenn both gave seminars at the Expo this year and both said they had a good time.

I don't know how Glenn's was attended as I was busy in the All Predator Calls Booth, but I made a point to "sneak a peek" every now and then at Randy's seminar and several of the others. Ya' know, that guy is some kind of show man and really packed them in. There were 200 seats and he could have used about 150 more for his Saturday seminar. He is one hard act for anyone to follow after singing a live rendition of "Come Little Coyote Come". His seminar lasted about two hours and dealt with different vocalizations and was very educational.


The crowd gathered and stayed to hear Randy Anderson's seminar on Vocalization.

Great seminarswere also given by Les Johnson, JP Moody, Al Morris, Byron South and the Predator Pursuit Boys. There were others that I missed and wasn't able to look in on and I am sure were good, but I've got to think that anyone who attended had to have a good time.


Les "Hollywood" Johnson's seminars were also well attended!

I asked a lot of folks who stopped by the booth if they were happy to be in attendance and if they felt like they got their money's worth and I never heard a single complaint and I can assure you I was listening for them. Given the big "industry names" in attendance and a chance to visit with all of these guys, I don't know how any attendee who was interested in our sport could have walked away dissatisfied.

The good news is that there was, I am going off of what others told me, a huge improvement in the amount of people who attended this year's event vs. the Kansas City Expo. It was also great to see the "gang" again, and there are just too many names to try to list them all.

The bad news is that the Deer and Turkey Expo, 50 yards away, was attended by at least "scads" more of people and I would say that 90% of them were not aware that the Predator Expo was going on and if they did, had no interest in attending.


Although it was never packed, there times that the Expo was busy.

Friday and Saturday at our event was, for me, surprisingly busy since I'd heard so many negative things about KC, but it was literally "elbow to elbow" in the other building. I can't help but think that several of the vendors at the Predator Expo would have been much busier across the street in the other building but have no way in knowing that for sure.


Sherry and Cal Taylor drumming up business for their Center of the Nation Outfitters business.


Talk about being happy for a few guys.... How about all the guys that entered the calling contest. It takes a lot of confidence to get up in front of a crowd of people and enter the calling contest. I'm pleased as punch for Duffie Statler, Jason Groseclose, and particularly Steve Criner. Steve works for HS and came on the scenes a few short years and now.... Well, shoot, he's our new World Champion. Congratulations to all of you guys.

I am also happy for Brent Rueb who I am sure would have liked to have put a few more people through the door, but all in all, it was a huge improvement over the KC Expo.

Byron South

Coming to Call's Byron South and Remington were in attendance.

The Cost of Doing Business

I am glad I attend the Show this year. It is always nice to meet a few of your customers and hear what's on their minds and listen to their compliments and complaints and It's nice to meet new people in the industry . The TBR guys, the Outdoor TV crew, Mark Healy and gang, the Carver Crew, Radio man Brian Downs, Nite Stik Chris, Q's right hand man, Artist Joe Goodman, Craze Man Jeff, KTek Jeff, Lanyard man Jeff, F&W's Jared and Chris, Mojo Mike, Duff Man, Stikeforce Tom, Cal "The Real Deal" Taylor and his wife and many of the PM's gang to include Jeff, Randy and Barry. There were a lot of folks at the Predator Masters booth and all of them looked like they were having a good time. I know there were many others I know I have left out but the hour is late and my memory short.


PM's booth early Sunday morning before the start of the show.

I attend a lot of consumer shows for "my day job" and like many of them, I am doubtful that the immediate sales from this year's Expo paid for most of the vendors expenses. It didn't for me and I'm certainly not going to speak for everyone, but here are some of the cold, hard figures and the reality of attending any of these shows and why they have to be considered as the cost of doing business. One of the biggest expenses that doesn't cross many people's minds is how to find new customers and the cost involved in finding them.


Excellent, educational seminars were given everyday.

Lots of guys drove instead of flying in like I did. Did you know, that the government currently uses the figure .55 cents per mile for reimbursement cost for individuals driving their own vehicles. This figure takes into account gas, tires, depreciation, etc. That means, when you drive your vehicle 1,000 miles, the government figures that it is worth, or costs you, $550.00 to drive your vehicle, and just so you know, they don't make a habit of overpaying guys like us. Lots of guys don't figure these things into their bottom line and it is one more reason why small businesses have a hard time surviving.
Here is a fairly accurate breakdown of what it cost me to attend the Expo this year - I know I didn't keep all of my receipts so I rounded up the total dollars.

Food = $70.00 - (For those interested, half of that was in White Castle Bacon/ Jalepeno Doule Cheese Burgers)
Brochures = $130.00
Gas = $18.00
Expo Parking = $15.00
Airport Parking = $16.00
Rental Car = $165.00
Hotel = $255
Extra Baggage Charge = $120.00
Booth Charge - $0.00 since I was in All Predator Calls Booth but $400.00 for many.
Flight = $690
Grand Total Expenses = $1,500

I usually don't discuss sales at these events at all, because it is really no one else's business, but to give guys a realistic look at things, here we go.

I sold a little over $200.00 worth of stuff each day, so let's say a grand total of $800.00. While that is inconsequential, I expected less than $200 for the whole Expo because of the KC stories, so even though I exceeded my expectations, sales certainly didn't amount to all that much. I would guess that other guys selling $15 DVD's and $10.00 to $25.00 calls were more than likely pretty similar in sales.

Obviously some guys sold a lot more than this, some sold less than this and some nothing at all.
Some might say that I "lost" $700, (remember, don't confuse gross sales with profit, so I actually "lost"
over $1,000) but, looking at it in the long term, I believe it was more beneficial than a quarter page color
ad which sells for about the same price in many of today's predator hunting magazines.

Remember, I didn't have to pay for a booth or have any employee's along or have to pay them or pick
up their expenses.

I think that most vendors that participated were excited to be part of something still in its infancy stages
and had a good time visiting with each other and the people who attended.

The Future

It will be interesting to see how this event "holds up" down the road. If it doesn't make it, it won't be
from a lack of effort on Brent's part and many of the vendors who have gone above and beyond in their
efforts to support it.


Lot's of good folks and solid company's put their best foot forward to make the Expo a success.

Although there seems to be "obvious" solutions, like everything else, there are usually plenty of behind
the scenes reasons that no one is aware of, as to why certain ideas or suggestions won't work out and
cannot be done.

Although I heard many folks talking about moving the Expo to a different location, I am not so sure that
will work out in the long run. I have a lot of experience with long running events that are profitable for
both vendors and promoters and all of them have one thing in common. They are in the same location,
year after year, and happen to fall on the same weekend, year after year.


Big name company's like Hunter's Specialties and F&W sent their "A" Team, Gerald Stewart and Jared Blohm.

It will be interesting to see how it unfolds in the long run. Lots of ambitious, hard working guys came
together and gave it one heck of an effort.

You can look at more photo's from this years Expo in the next week or so under the photo gallery on my
website, .

You are welcome to sign up as a friend on Facebook at Zepp's Predator Calls.

Warmest regards friends,

Big Mark

Posted 23 March 2010 - 08:11 PM

This is probably the only honest review of the expo anyone will be able to read. Thank you.



These are The Good Ole Days

Posted 22 April 2010 - 12:44 PM

For the last seven weeks I have been fighting a fairly significant infection in my jaw. While I am much better, I am definitely still officially "on the mend". I've never had any teeth problems or even a cavity in my life, so tooth pain, multiple root canals and jaw surgery have been a new experience for me. I have a new "appreciation" for anyone who has ever had any teeth or jaw problems and found I am not nearly as tough as I thought I was.... one just needs to ask my wife about the endless whining I've done the last month and a half.

When I was fresh out of college, I interviewed for a job out of the classified section of the newspaper. It was one of those ads that wouldn't tell you what the job was, you had to come in to be "interviewed" and they'd tell you about it in person and no, it didn't involve a "casting couch", it was a insurance sales job. These guys get you in their office, tell you you're wonderful, build you up and let you know you have the job, but then let you know it is commission only.... I could handle that today but not out of school. I needed something that would pay for my gas and besides, I didn't want to sell insurance.

I did take something out of my time in that office though. The guy asked me what the most important thing I could own was. I didn't have a good answer, but he did. "Your health", he said. You know, even though I was a 23 year old punk "kid", that seemed to make a lot of sense.

As the years have passed those words ring true each and every day. I can't think of anything we take more for granted than our health and feeling good.

I tend to be more nostalgic and reminisce about days gone by more than many, but one thing is for certain, with today's modern Medicine, these are The Good Ole Days.

Many thanks to Dr. Jonathan Gutman, D.M.D. for his excellent care and patient follow through.

Take care of yourself Friends !

2nd Annual BBQ and Transfer

May 03 2010 03:32 PM

Our Second Annual Zepp's BBQ is history and I think a good time was had by all who attended. About 30 local guys, who help us out with our business, filtered in and out for several hours and enjoyed some of Amber's BBQ and my mother-in-laws potato salad, cole slaw and various deserts.

My wife Amber and Mother-in-Law Becky Hoogenboom do all of the hard work as Wyatt does some "taste testing".

What a difference a year makes! We've enjoyed a lot of rain and much cooler than normal temperatures in the desert this year. Last year everyone was in shorts, this year guys were scrambling for an extra coat and started a fire when the sun went down. It's hard to believe it was pushing the high 40's by the time everyone headed for home.

The first of the "boys" to arrive at our house.


Good guys and good conversation!

Many thanks to the guys who attended and my wife Amber who put together another great party!


This years Foxpro Contest winner Roger Gibbs, left, talks to Jake Walker and Dr. Rick Davis.


Cold temps required a little wood gathering by a few of the kids in attendance for a fire.


Louisiana Hillbilly Phil Falkenheiner showing some coyote photos to Billy Spenser and Mike B.


When the wood ran out we resorted to a little "King of the Hill" .... why Propane of course!

My transfer for work was approved last week and the Zepp's will be moving to Goshen, Indiana sometime between now and the middle of July. Many thanks to my boss Gary Williams and our General Manager Mike Romano for allowing this to happen.

It is hard to believe I have been in Arizona for almost 12 years. I have really enjoyed living out west, but in truth, have been happy in the numerous places I have lived over the years, but always new, Arizona would not be my "home". I want our son Wyatt to follow a coon dog guided by the stars, hear a good rabbit dog or two and do a little fishing on the river with him and that wasn't going to happen out here.

It was also equally important to find a place where a guy could call and film coyotes or could get to callable country in a few hours and I think I've found that as well, but I will always believe, Arizona is truly the "Land of Milk and Honey" for predator calling. I will miss that, but will be back in Arizona on a regular basis for business meetings and..... Hunting trips of course!

So a new adventure will shortly begin with new challenges and I am looking forward to them.

Warmest regards Fella's,

Big Mark


Buttes, Coulees, Thunderclouds and Sunrises

May 13 2010 03:32 PM

This Fall, we'll be releasing our 4th DVD, Buttes, Coulees, Thunderclouds and Sunrises. It seems like just yesterday when Eddie and I were putting together our first one and wondering if anyone would buy it.

I've posted a link which will let you preview a few minutes of it, above. The download may take up to 5 minutes or so on some of your computers, but if you like this sport, you'll probably think the wait was worth your while.

I'd like to thank many of you folks who have supported our past projects and allowed our small company to move forward.

You can see the "stories" behind the names of our DVD's and learn a little more about us at and are welcome to sign up as a friend of ours on Facebook at Zepp's Predator Calls.

P.S. I don't even know what Facebook is, but my wife assures me it is the "in" thing and is 100% in charge and responsible for what happens Jover there

Warmest regads,

Big Mark


SHOT Show 1/16/09

Great News from SHOT Show

I believe many of the company's and people in Orlando are really happy about this years SHOT. The media has bombarded us with negative talk about the economy but you wouldn't know it by the looking down the isles and the traffic in all of the booths around us. I had no idea on what to expect, especially since much has been made of the fact that the vendor numbers and trade crowd was off significantly at last weeks consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. I'm more than happy to see all the smiling faces in the sunny south this week and have to be optimistic about the upcoming year.
The only problem with the booth traffic is that it has not allowed me to do much looking around and see what's new and if there are any exciting products that we can expect to see out on the market this fall. Thursday afternoon I snuck away long enough to say "hello" to Jay "Rhino" Nistetter, Byron South, Rod Haydel and the Coyote Doctors. I briefly caught a glimpse of Tad Brown but he was busy with customers and we didn't speak. I also had a chance to meet and talk with Bill Saksa who is the PR man for the Predator Callers of Orange County in California. What a "gem" of a guy and hope we can get together for a hunt some time in the future.
Today, I tracked down Gerald Stewart and Al Morris long enough to have a few pictures taken and went back to work.
Les Johnson's Predator Quest television series is up for three big awards tonight and, unfortunately, I had to cancel out on attending tonight's ceremony at the last minute. It's an honor to be nominated for any of these awards and I think Les and this sport are winners, no matter what outcome.

SHOT SHOW- 1/15/09 9:00 PM

Posted 15 January 2009 - 09:39 PM

January and February are really busy months for me and I'm traveling and away from home about forty of the sixty plus nights. This week I'm in Orlando, Florida for the SHOT Show, the show that attracts most of the biggest company's, names and personalities in the hunting industry. I am frequently asked about this show by many of my friends. It is for folks who work in the outdoor industry and is not open to the general public. Company's commonly show or introduce their new products for the year to buyers from large companies or store owners at SHOT, which stands for Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference. As a general rule this show rotates back and forth between Orlando and Las Vegas, NV.

For those of you who don't know, my "real" job is with a company by the name of Tri-Tronics where I am a National Senior Account Supervisor. Tri-Tronics manufactures remote training e-collars for hunting dogs and is the only company that does it here in the United States. All of their competitors manufacture their products in Korea or China. I'm proud to play a part and be associated with them.

I enjoy attending SHOT because many of the biggest names in the predator hunting game attend this show and it's a great opportunity to visit with them for a few minutes. Today, I ran into Mike Dillon from FoxPro and had a really nice conversation with him. Foxpro has been an important sponsor for Zepp's Predator Calls the last few years and I'm hopeful that we can continue to work together for years to come. I'll have more on that later.

It's 8:30 pm and I just got back to my room - I finished with work about 6:00pm and headed out to the airport and picked up my buddy Les Johnson and dropped him off at his room over at the Embassy Suites. I've been a big fan of Les' Predator Quest television show the last few years and I think both he and his show are really good for the sport and the industry. Les will be working with one of his sponsors, Legacy Firearms, at SHOT.

I'm going to turn in early tonight but will let you know who else I run into and any new products that I see and think you may be interested in. Next week, when I get back, I'll post some pictures.


Final SHOT Show comments

First, congratulations to Les Johnson for winning The Fan Favorite Award for his Predator Quest television show. Who would ever have thought it would have been possible for a predator hunting show to win an award like this even a few short years ago. Congratulations Les.

Congratulations are also in order to Mike Schoby, a predator caller and writer who was recently appointed as Editor at Peterson's Hunting Magazine. Good for you Mike!

"Foot traffic" as a general rule is usually slower in Orlando than it is in Las Vegas, which only makes sense when you think about it. Business owners tend to use the Vegas location as a destination stop where they can see what is the latest industry news during the day and attend shows in the evening with their wives. Orlando has some appeal because of Disney and there are certainly guys who fly their wives and kids in and extend their trip, but it doesn't get the attendance that Vegas gets. Having said that, I think most companies were fairly pleased with the attendance. The first two days of the show were very busy, and is customary, traffic tapers the last two days. I did not notice any significant changes from past years but other companies may have a different opinion.

Even with a good crowd in Florida, there is uncertainty and nervousness in the industry. I'm on a Delta flight between Atlanta and Tucson as I write this and can't help but think about the following things.
a.) The only real area of growth in our industry has come from the sale of "black guns" and at some point that will have to taper off. The new President, or his administration, will almost certainly see to that, one way or another.
b.) Television and DVD sponsorships will be at a premium and tough for anyone to get, especially for new guys coming into the market. How this will affect the Sportman's and Outdoor Channels I don't know, but less marketing dollars being spent on this venue will have to have some sort of impact. (This just in from The Outdoor Wire on 1/20/09, "Our meeting rooms were booked, and the quality of the buyers at the show was very good. We saw good volume in our law enforcement booths, and we're very pleased with the media turnout," said Al Russo of Remington Arms Co. The media, however, included many print and television people not particularly pleased with SHOT. We hear as many as forty outdoor television shows lost significant sponsorships. Other companies saw advertising orders reduced or eliminated altogether. )
c.) Print media is in big trouble. Have you picked up this months edition of Outdoor Life magazine? It's the January issue which has featured predator hunting the last few years. It is a skeleton of what it was, even a year ago. The trickle down of the Wall Street, banking and auto industry debacles mean less advertising dollars. I don't know what that means to the predator hunting publications and other niche market magazines but I hope they can hang in there. Editors of some publications, not just hunting magazines, but all publications, have lost so many advertisers they are having a difficult time determining how to bind, or hold, the magazine together. I was talking to the guy next to me on the first leg of this flight between Orlando and Atlanta and he pulled out a fancy looking phone and said he can get the sports page and headlines off of it and seldom buys a paper anymore. He can find out what's going on and quickly move to his e-mail. No doubt about it, like it or not, times are a changing.

While I'm not a gloom and doom guy, I also think it's important to let you know what's happening behind the scenes.

Later this week, I'll post some pictures of a few of the guys I caught up with at the show.

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