When thinking of calling wildlife, we typically think of whitetails, turkeys and waterfowl.
However, the trend is quickly changing. More and more hunters are taking up the challenge of calling furbearers, especially the coyote. The days of using cassette tapes and “boom boxes” to lure predators to your location are quickly fading away. New innovative trends are hitting the market with literally hundreds of sounds available at the touch of a button. Small hands-free digital callers like the loud FoxPro CS-24 is the new cassette tape. This doesn’t mean you can buy success with a digital caller and a library of sounds though. The best hunters still have to hunt where the animals are for any type of success to come their way.
Many callers just assume that predators are widespread, found most everywhere. But, just as a scant few of the available water acres in a lake contain game fish, only a small percentage of the land holds predators. They might be concentrated in one limited spot, while just a few miles away there might not be any. This is dictated more than anything else by the available food supply.
Nothing is closer to the truth than the saying; “You can’t call’em if there are none to call.” However, many callers take this as just a saying, but it is so much more. A typical case has a person buying a game call, going to the field, trying it briefly in one spot, and then concluding that the darn thing does not work.
Even if you do not intend to learn the habits of the quarry you intend to hunt, and do not want to take the time and effort to distinguish telltale signs, at least move through enough country, and try calling enough times to give your call a fair shake. Just remember, a coyote will normally answer a call if it has the opportunity. But, no predator will come a-calling if it can’t hear your call.
The basic problem, then, is finding a place to call. Since most calling is done on private property you must get permission to hunt. This isn’t too difficult if you approach the landowner in the right frame of mind. Hunting is a granted privilege, and you are not doing the landowner a favor by hunting his land unless he specifically comes to you and requests help. Remember that you are making the advances. Do it with courtesy and respect and few landowners will deny your wishes. If he has the time he may even show you where he has seen predators in the past. But, if you disrespect his property, and do not treat it as you would treat your own, there will be no more welcome signs hung out for you. On the other hand, if the man finds that you are sincere and honest, he may agree to serve as a character reference when you are seeking permission to hunt other lands.
Seek out the advice of others when pinpointing the range of coyotes. The rural mailman is one possibility; so are the UPS, Fed-Ex and school bus drivers, along with the local game warden. Workers in the soil conservation office are another good source. Ask them if in their travels they recall seeing any predators. If so, take down where the animals were sighted and get in touch with the landowner.
Hunting in country where no predators are around being the foremost mistake of the beginning caller. Probably the second is returning to the same general area each time you call. It is wise to understand that a predator that you call once is doubly tough to call a second time. By failing to seek out fresh territory each time you call, you are only handicapping yourself. If you intend to return to a spot a second time, rest it several weeks before paying it a repeat visit.
Far too much emphasis is put on mastering the calling technique. This is only a very small part of the big picture. Equal forethought should go into concealment, wind direction, movement, and, of course, picking a good location to hunt. I spend as much time scouting areas as I do hunting it. This scouting not only results in more predators called, it also saves a lot of wasted time. I also ask around to make sure other callers have not been hunting in the immediate area recently. Calling a wily coyote is no haphazard venture. The only way you can outwit a coyote is by sheer intelligence. When you come down to the animal’s level, and try to play the game on the critters terms, your chances of success are almost nil.
The coyote reacts to a call much like a fox does. When it decides to answer it answers in a hurry, usually within 10 minutes. A coyote is not as susceptive as a foolish fox, but its greed often supersedes any inherent sense of survival. Yet, it does not throw all caution to the wind. The game caller who sets up for coyotes must mind his ABC’s of calling technique, and must pay strict attention to all the minute details of concealment (including camouflage clothing) and wind direction.
A Cottonwood rabbit dying call is great on coyotes, but I have found a lower-pitched call like that of a Jackrabbit to be sometimes more effective. Also, manufactured decoys are a great advantage to the caller trying to bring a call-shy decoy in for a shot. When going from one location to the other when calling, go at least one mile between stops.
Coyote calling is a year-round sport for many, but I prefer to call in the winter when their fur is prime and sellable. Calling during winter is usually good all day long. There will be times the coyote population is so high that they are killing livestock, and other wild game like deer, rabbits and turkeys. Then this happens action must be taken. One of the best times of the year to rid your property of nuisance `yotes is from mid-July on into October, when the pups have grown large enough to fend for themselves, yet still are too young to be wise to the facts of life.
When a coyote is tricked by a call, but manages to escape, the coyote will not only be tougher to sucker a second time with the same sounds, but may even pass the lesson on to other coyotes. The number of inexperienced hunters in certain areas, all using similar recordings of prey distress sounds, has definitely made a difference in this respect.
However, in such areas, the wise use of the same electronic call might just be what the doctor ordered. Better electronics produce a wider range of believable coyote vocalizations, many more than can be made by even a skilled caller using mouth-blown howlers and calls. And, some of these sounds can be deadly effective, even where coyotes turn a deaf ear to those ubiquitous rabbit squeals and squalls.
One thing for certain when hunting coyotes is that nothing is for certain. What sounds that work perfect on one region of the state might not work at all in another region. What sounds worked today might not get a single response tomorrow.