Coyote Calling Tips
The key to consistently having success calling the wily coyote is not a simple solution but a rather complex set of rules and techniques you should abide by.
The first rule is to hunt in good habitat where coyotes are present, after all, you will not call in any coyote if there are none in the area. You can scout the area for sign or use locator calls to determine if predators are in the general area. The next rule is to only hunt when the wind is right for the piece of property you are hunting. To fool the wily coyote and call one into shot range is quite the feat in itself but with the wind blowing your scent right at the crafty predator you don’t stand a chance. Your best bet is to set a stand with maximum concealment and great visibility with a crosswind or have the wind in your face. These are the basic set of rules every coyote hunter should follow to have a shot on the slick predator.
Now that we covered the basics let’s dive into the techniques one can use for a successful hunt based upon the season at hand. While there is no wrong call to use at any given time, really understanding coyote behavior throughout the season can maximize time spent calling in the field.
Coyote Hunting Tactics
Let’s break things down a little further by identifying four triggers: hunger, curiosity, territorial and parental. Of the four, hunger and curiosity are responsible for calling in the most coyotes. Is it because these are the easiest triggers to invoke? Or is it because the average coyote hunter is primarily using sounds that trigger these two responses? I believe it’s a little of both. Triggering territorial and parental responses can be very effective as well, but understanding certain coyote characteristics and coyote behavior is the key to being able to trigger these responses on a consistent basis throughout the entire hunting season.
Before we can tie everything together into a practical game plan, let’s discuss coyote behavior from early fall through early spring. During the month of September and the early part of October, the coyote family group is still intact. The pups are still in the general vicinity of their spring denning site, but they are learning to hunt on their own. Food is plentiful, with insects and plants still available for consumption. Hunting pressure is minimal and coyote densities and numbers are the highest they will be all season.
In late October and into November, the family group breaks down and the pups head out on their own. During this timeframe, a good portion of the coyote population is composed of young, transient coyotes roaming the countryside looking for their own territory to establish. The food supply is minimized and easy meals such as grasshoppers are gone with the colder temperatures. The coyotes must now take to catching rodents, rabbits, and birds. Hunting pressure has significantly increased and the coyote numbers and densities are dropping.
In December through the first half of January, most coyotes have now established a territory. Winter has hit with full force, and keeping food in its belly is priority number one for a coyote. Hunting pressure is extremely high, and the coyote numbers and densities are continuing to drop.
During the last half of January and February, the remaining coyote population turns its focus to repopulating. Mating is now the priority, and the females will come into heat sometime around the first of February. Food sources are dwindling, and the coyotes must continue to hunt on a daily basis. Hunting pressure remains high, and many of the remaining coyotes have had some sort of educational experience during the previous four months.
In March and April, the coyote pairs have established a den. A territory is now the main focus. Defending remaining food sources from being eaten by other coyotes are important for the survival of the litters. The family group will spend the next six months in this location. Hunting pressure has dropped significantly, and as long as 30 percent of the coyote population survived the winter, there will be just as many coyotes again next fall.
By understanding coyote behavior you get a feel for what calls should work best at a given time of year and how it is affected by the changing of seasons. Prey distresses will generally trigger a hunger or curiosity response. Coyote and coyote-pup distress will generally trigger a parental or territorial response. Coyote vocalizations will generally trigger a territorial or curiosity response. Early in the season, concentrate on triggering a curiosity, hunger or parental response. Midway through the season, concentrate on triggering a hunger, territorial or parental response. During the late-season, concentrate on triggering a territorial, parental or curiosity response.
Calling Coyote On Set
Here is an example of one of my successful sets this year. It’s early October, and you’re headed out to call your favorite piece of ground for the first time this season. During the first half of the stand, play a prey-distress sound. If there’s a coyote within an earshot that is hungry or curious, you’ll get a response. If nothing responds halfway through your stand, switch categories to hopefully elicit a parental response. To do this, pick a sound from the coyote or coyote-pup distress category. Let it play for the remainder of the stand. If there was a coyote within earshot, chances are one of the three triggers you tried to invoke will produce a response.
Another example lets say It’s late January and you’re headed out to call a piece of property that you’ve already hunted several times. By now, many of the coyotes have received some sort of education and are more concerned about repopulating than eating. During the first few minutes of the stand, use your favorite coyote vocalization sound. Next, switch sounds and pick something from the coyote and coyote-pup distress category. Let that play through the halfway point of your stand and then repeat with coyote vocalizations and more coyote and coyote-pup distress. This accomplishes two things. First, you’ve played sounds from two different categories, which have the ability to invoke three of the four triggers, which are relative to the corresponding coyote behavior that time of year. Second, you’ve played sounds that the average coyote hunter hasn’t used up to this point in the season. Identify the triggers that you want to invoke and then play the correct sounds to invoke a response.
Put all of this predator behavioral information, and coyote hunting advice to work for you and you’ll put more coyotes on the ground this season. Good luck and shoot straight friends, If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments and I will answer them to the best of my knowledge.
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