Coyote Hunting Basics, Part 2 of 2. By Babe Winkelman
Coyote Hunting Basics, Part 2 of 2.
By Babe Winkelman
In my last column I made a case for WHY you should go coyote hunting. In this piece, I’ll lay down the fundamentals of HOW you can go about your hunt. To recap a little bit, every hunt starts with good preparation - from scouting and de-scenting your gear to having good camo and calls. So, you’re all set. Now what?
First, because coyotes are predominantly nocturnal hunters, focus your calling and hunting during the low light periods of dusk and dawn. Dusk can be particularly good, as many coyotes have spent the daylight hours hunkered down and not feeding. As evening approaches, they typically have a hunger for a rabbit dinner. Night hunting under a bright moon or with artificial lights is thrilling and highly effective, but a little more advanced. Since my intent here is to provide fundamentals for first-time coyote hunters, we’ll save nighttime tactics for another time.
When you arrive at your hunting location, pay attention to wind direction and the location of the sun. In an ideal set-up, you’ll have a slight crosswind and the sun at your back. This gives you a huge edge over a coyote’s keen eyesight and sense of smell. Why a crosswind? Because an approaching coyote will often circle downwind of the calling location to locate the source of the call. It puts you in a good ambush position on an approaching predator.
Choose a vantage point that gives you a good, wide view of the terrain and adequate cover for your concealment. Field edges, gravel pits, dry sloughs and creek valleys are prime spots. I’ve found that when you come upon a good location, your predatory instincts sort of speak to you and say “this is a good spot!” Trust your instincts.
Many coyote hunters put a decoy out at each set, and it’s a good idea. It gives the coyote a visual on the “meal” and takes his attention off of you. A rabbit skin on a stick works perfectly well, particularly if it can dance in the breeze a little bit. Movement is good. So good in fact that many companies have introduced motorized decoys that add eye-catching movement.
The choice to use a decoy or not is simply a matter of personal preference; same thing for the choice to use mouth calls or an electronic caller. There are advantages to both. Mouth calls are lightweight, compact and effective. However, they make you the object of attention. Remote electronic callers can be placed away from your ambush position and in close proximity to your decoy if you’re using one. TNT Game Calls make some excellent electronic calls. As for which calls to use, there are three must-haves: rabbit in distress, coyote howler and mouse squeaker.
So, you’ve found a nice spot with a good view of the landscape. You’re well camouflaged and scent free. Your rifle is in the ready position on shooting sticks. It’s time to call. A great way to start is by blowing your distressed rabbit call first. Begin with moderate volume and passion for about 30-45 seconds, then chase that with a coyote howl and finish with another short burst on the rabbit call. After calling, pay close attention for an approaching coyote. If nothing appears after several minutes, repeat the calling sequence.
If you see a ‘Yote running in on a string, keep quiet and focus on making the shot. He’s sold. If the coyote is sneaking his way in and tentative, then coax him in with soft volume rabbit wails or with your mouse squeaker. Read the dog’s body language. If he keeps looking back over his shoulder, it can mean that he’s got some buddies with him – which means you might be in for a double or triple!
It’s always best to shoot at a standing coyote versus one that’s trotting. It’s pretty easy to get them to pose for you if they’re moving. Simply give them a dog bark with your voice and they routinely stop in their tracks to give you a shot. Sometimes you can even stop a missed coyote that’s running away from you with a sharp bark.
The more you hunt coyotes, the better you’ll get. You’ll hone your scouting, set-up, calling and shooting skills and have a ton of fun doing it. You’ll also do the natural world a favor by removing some of these unwanted predators. But be warned… you WILL get addicted to the heart-pounding pursuit of the Wile E. Coyote.