Danger never rests, and varmints never sleep. Well, not at night, at least, judging by the chaos they wreak in the wee hours. Wild predators are annoying, but they do a lot of damage, too: They gobble up livestock, pets, adorable baby deer, and garbage. Plus, they carry mange, viruses, and rabies. Get to know the weaknesses of the varmints you can hunt at night in Florida so that you can take back your land—and your self-respect.
For some of these backyard nuisances, you’ll need to get a Gun and Light at Night permit from the wildlife commission. Then you can retaliate legally on your property (or someone else’s, with written permission). For other critters, it’s always open season. Check for up-to-date regulations before you strap on your night goggles. Here’s how to size up a few of the enemies you’ll face.
It only seems like they want to be part of the family. These nightly visitors are really after your food, and they aren’t shy about trundling around the attic, knocking over garbage cans, and peering at you through the patio doors. They’re smart and strategic. The best time to hunt raccoons is before mating season in January because it can get pretty loud. A small-caliber rifle is the way to go, and a specialized scope will improve your accuracy.
Some hunters recommend using wet cat food for bait, but these are raccoons, and they are not known for sophisticated palates. Hard-boiled eggs, marshmallows—anything will do.
They really are wily. These predators are excel at surviving, and they’ve expanded all over the country, including every county in Florida. Hunt them all you want because coyotes are whack-a-moles that just keep multiplying. They’re more active at night in pursuit of prey, which gives you a better chance to nab one. At night you have an advantage, and you’ll need it. Coyotes’ eyesight is different than ours, so you can use a red light at night to fool them. Put on some no-scent clothes, though, because they have a bionic sense of smell.
These are your most dangerous adversaries: If you trigger their spray, you’ll be smelling defeat for weeks. And if your dog is a casualty, he’ll be traumatized for life. Skunks have poor vision. You can lure one with some bait: something sweet next to your fence, like a pile of marshmallows or Little Debbie’s. For some reason, they love bananas. Then—from at least 50 feet away—you can drop one with a .223 to the heart. That’s your best shot at avoiding the spray.
There are plenty more varmints you can hunt at night in Florida: otters, bobcats, beavers, foxes, opossums, rabbits, nutria, and more. It’s a challenging way to sharpen your skills, and a set of glowing eyes in the dark can really get your blood pumping. Stay out late and get out there because there’s just no home improvement more valuable.
Help fund The Cardinal Arlingtoncardinal.com/sponsor