Predator numbers must be kept in check, and for the most part, it’s a job left to hunters
As predator populations continue to expand across the country, the popularity of hunting these wily creatures continues to grow. Understanding that you must set up in a location that gives you a good field of view, while concealing you from the eyes and nose of your prey, is the basis for success.
The first step is locating coyotes which is seldom difficult. They inhabit all corners of North America, and most proclaim their territorial dominion by vocalizing at dawn and dusk. Coyotes prefer overgrown terrain for security. These predators take up residence in thick woods, rugged bluffs and steep canyons. In open country they gravitate to grassy depressions, eroded gullies, cattail sloughs and large brushy hedgerows for cover.
It’s difficult to sneak up on a coyote, or anywhere near one. Coyotes combine their senses and instincts to create a nearly impenetrable security system. To get within shooting range, take advantage of wind direction, approach stealthily and camouflage yourself from head to toe.
In my experience, the setup is the most important factor that will determine your success or failure in calling predators. Good setups must be able to fool a predator’s eyes, ears and nose. Always enter an area with the wind in your face. Stay out of sight, or at least maintain a low profile. Use land features and cover to hide as you travel to calling sites. Travel to and from a stand in the dark if it’s possible.
Most coyote setups are at an elevated spot but a hunter still needs to keep away from the skyline. If the hill is not too tall, circle around the sides to avoid skylining; if the hill is large and you have to go over the top, hunch over and move quickly into position below the horizon.
With an elevated vantage point you can get a good look of your surroundings. Every setup should have you facing into the wind. However, nearly every incoming coyote will attempt to circle downwind of the apparent victim it hears. It often pays to hunt with a partner who can watch the downwind side for sneaky incomers.
When choosing a call your priority is to obtain a call that you can use effectively to mimic the sounds made by creatures that are on the menu of local coyotes. There are plenty of calls available just make sure to use what the coyotes are eating in your area. To outwit experienced coyotes, vary your distress sounds. Coyotes eat just about anything that moves and respond to a variety of sounds made by what they think are injured critters. Be prepared to duplicate the sounds made by rodents, woodpeckers and fawns. To further the deceit, add in the raucous call of crows.
Try mastering the language of the coyote to provide another realistic dimension to your setup. Coyotes have a wide range of howls, barks, yips and whines. Stay away from barks, which represent a warning, and focus on non-aggressive welcoming howls. A drawn-out howl tells other coyotes “I’m here” and challenges them into an appearance as they look for the intruder who’s invaded their turf.
Begin and end prey-in-distress setups with howls, or use howls by themselves to attract coyotes. I always stay at a site for at least 30 minutes; most of the coyotes I’ve shot showed up later than that.
Coyote hunting fascinates a lot of hunters right from the start. It’s challenging because you have to develop specific skills to be consistently successful, and the action can be excitingly fast if you’re in prime coyote country. If you’re hooked the first time a coyote shuffles into rifle range, welcome to the addiction.