Coyote Hunting Basics

Posted by  Tuesday, December 18 2012 5:07 pm
expert

CoyoteI took a much needed deep breath. I had been squealing hard on a diaphragm turkey call for five minutes or more. Indeed, that is not an effective turkey calling method. My ridiculous sounding calls were, in fact, to attract a coyote within shotgun range.

As I began to call once again, I caught movement far up the valley. A loping animal paused long enough for me to get a good look through my binoculars. "A coyote is on its way," I whispered to my wife, Dian, who clung to her Stoeger 12-gauge in hopes of taking her first coyote.

I squealed on the mouth call once again imitating a dying rabbit. The coyote continued on its course towards us, pausing occasionally to get a better fix on the location of the meal in the bush. I paused my calling each time the coyote stopped. Another soft squeal from my call easily enticed the coyote to continue its search for an easy meal.

Dian watched intently, fully camouflaged and 15-feet in front of me and slightly downhill from my calling position. She eased her cheek down on the stock of her shotgun as the coyote closed to within 50 yards.

"Let him keep coming," I whispered. I could tell Dian was a little nervous about the coyote approaching so quickly. I heard her safety click off as the coyote reached 30 yards. "Let him come," I whispered again.

I squeezed one more soft call from the diaphragm and the coyote halted its approach at 15 yards. "Now", I instructed.

Dian's 12-gauge roared and the coyote tumbled over stone dead. The Winchester Xtended Range 3-inch magnum number fours downed the animal cleanly.

"Man, that was exciting and a little scary," Dian said with a rattle in her throat. "I could get into this predator hunting!"

Coyote Hunting Locations

Despite a long history of being hunted, trapped, poisoned and hated, coyotes are more abundant than ever. They readily adapted to the encroachments of mankind and are often the culprits behind the disappearance of urban pets. 

Coyotes can be found about anywhere in the country these days. Howling packs are commonly heard at dawn and dusk. Anxious predator hunters can drive around the countryside early and late in the day and often hear the serenades of hunting packs. Mark the locations on your map then seek permission to hunt on a later date. Few farmers and ranchers will deny access to coyote hunters. Most landowners would like to have the song dogs removed from their properties.

If you don't hear coyotes sound off, don't become discouraged. Scouting will more than likely turn up tracks, droppings and fur from kill sights. Coyotes prefer woods and hills and rough country. In open country they will seek out grassy depressions, gullies, swampy areas and brushy fencerows.

Hunter And Coyote Trophy
The author prefers a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with 3-inch magnums with No. 4 shot to hunt coyotes. 

Planning Your Approach

Don't plan on sneaking up on a coyote. It is not likely to happen. They have a natural security system bolstered by keen senses and wild instincts. Begin your approach by keeping the wind in your favor, travel slowly and use the terrain to your advantage. And camouflage yourself from head to toe in a pattern which blends into the surroundings.

If you have trouble locating coyotes, rethink your approach into your hunting area. Make absolutely sure the wind is in your face. Improper wind direction ends more coyote hunts than any other single factor.

The best setup locations are normally elevated. This allows the shooter to see long distances. Approach the vantage points with stealth and do not skylight yourself. Circle a hill if needed rather than traveling across the top.

Setting Up

Coyotes are survivors. They are very efficient predators and their ability to sneak up on their prey is almost unparalleled in the natural world. They use every natural terrain feature and piece of vegetation to their advantage. Hunting from an elevated position gives shooters a distinct advantage over these wily predators, which are masters at remaining undetected.

My hunting buddies and I often coyote hunt in the woods with shotguns. Visibility is seldom over 75 yards. Utilizing the slightest elevation gives us the best advantage we can gain in thick cover. Humps, knolls, and even the slight rise made by the roots of a fallen tree have come into play in our coyote hunting adventures.

Our home territory is made up of oak-hickory forests with lots of open spaces such as cow pastures and hayfields. A favorite tactic is to hunt the edges of these fields while making sure to setup on a hillside so we can see long distances. The name of the game in this scenario is to make the long shot with our chosen caliber rifle for the day.

Calling Coyotes

The market is flooded with predator calls. Choosing one or several can be a daunting task. Unless you want to spend the time trying them all, go coyote hunting with experienced hunters and see what they are using. That doesn't mean you have to use the same calls as those guys, but it will give you some place to start as you figure out what you personally prefer.

CoyoteAlso, one of the most enjoyable facets of the whole idea of predator hunting is figuring out the finite points which fit your personal style. As your predator hunting skills develop you will want to show your buddies what you can do and that often entails demonstrating how you can best use the calls you have chosen. Johnny Stewart's Preymaster Electronic Game Caller comes with a variety of cards for both coyotes and other game. Randy Anderson Calls are some of the most sought after hand held percussion calls.

Your number one priority in choosing a call should be to select one that you can use to best imitate sounds made by animals that coyotes prey on in your area. Rabbits are a prime target for coyotes and your arsenal of calls should certainly include a rabbit squealer. However, don't over use it just because it is easy to blow. Coyotes will catch on to you quickly.

Predator hunters mess with coyotes at every opportunity. I learned much about predators while deer and turkey hunting. Many years ago I entertained myself most of the morning, while on a deer stand, by squeaking like a mouse to tease a coyote crossing a field in front of me. The coyote took the better part of two hours to cross the field. It wasn't that the animal did not like my mouse squeaks. It simply kept finding mice in the field as it approached my location. There is nothing like a bird (or mouse) in hand, even for a coyote. The antics of the coyote, as it jumped, lurched and stalked to find a meal provided grand entertainment during a slow morning on the deer stand.

Experienced coyotes can be a tough adversary and will require a greater diversity of calls. They will eat about anything and are particularly susceptible to distress calls made by a variety of animals including rodents, birds, fawns and young calves and lambs. Master the raucous calls of a bunch of crows and you have another tool of deceit in your growing arsenal of calls.

Using hand-held mouth calls is the ultimate in coyote calling, but has some disadvantages, especially when dogs get close. Electronic callers are available in many models and come with interchangeable cards for a wide variety of animal sounds to attract coyotes.

Making the Shot

Watching a coyote approach your position can give even veteran hunters a serious case of "coyote fever." Your success at taking the animal will be dependent on a number of items which should have been taken care of ahead of time. They include excellent camo, proper setup, playing the wind, time on the range to know what your gun and loads will do and practice with your calls.

Unless you are a very experienced shooter, beginners should always shoot only at standing coyotes. A song dog running and darting through the grass and bushes can be a formidable target. That, too, is fun, but the more challenging shots will come with experience.

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Last modified on Thursday, December 27 2012 12:03 pm
Bill Cooper
expert

Bill Cooper is a 40-year veteran outdoor writer from Missouri. He is a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Missouri where he earned a Masters Degree in Outdoor Education. He is a member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and a past president of the Missouri Outdoor Communicators. Bill received the Conservation Educator of the Year Award from the Conservation Federation of Missouri in 2000 and the Conservation Communicator Award in 2008.

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