Mutli-Part Series on Predator Hunting
Welcome back! So you have your rifle set up and you’re comfortable shooting off a bipod, shooting sticks, or tripod. You’ve planned out where you’re hunting and have an idea of how you are going to set up. Now you need to call some ‘yotes in. Let’s get to predator hunting!
This is the part of calling predators that can get frustrating and confusing. The are 3 types of calls I use, sometimes at the same time. They are 1. diaphragm/ mouth, 2. hand, and 3. electronic. Let’s start with the first, mouth calls. There are dozens of over the counter calls on the market. Within this category there are subcategories, diaphragm, closed reed and open reed. These calls you can
A custom call from Travis Alzate at Coyote Creek Custom Calls
get at most sporting good stores or get custom ones made by actual hunters. These generally do sound better. Calls by Travis Alzate at Coyote Creek Custom Calls, Torry Cook at MFK Calls, Steve Criner at Dog Soldier, and many other great call makers can be found online.
The coyote diaphragm call is just like your typical diaphragm used for turkey or elk. The diaphragm is many times the most difficult to start out with and takes the most practice. The difference from a coyote diaphragm compared to others is the stretch of the latex to create the high pitch barks and howls of a coyote. With this type of call all varieties of coyote vocals and distress sounds can be achieved. This type of call helps keep you better concealed since no hands are needed and it stays in your mouth with very limited movement.
Next is the closed reed call. These calls are very simple to use and are very good starter calls. They are simply used by holding in one hand, cupping the other hand over the end, and blowing. By cupping the hand over the end of the call you can manipulate the sound. You can also manipulate to the sound easily by air pressure being used from blowing the call. More air pressure equals louder raspier sounds while less pressure is softer less raspy sounds. The closed reed calls will be the simplest and sometimes cheapest calls to start with.
Lastly of the mouth calls are the open reed calls. The same basic technique used with your hands on the closed reed can be used on the open reed. The difference between the two is the reed being outside the call making your lip/ tooth placement crucial to producing a specific sound. The closer on the reed you are toward the barrel of the call the lower/ deeper the sound. The further back you get from the barrel the higher pitch the sound. One open reed call can be used as a howler, kiyi, bark, yip, and distress all in one just like the diaphragm call. The difference being you must use your hands to hold it to your mouth.
The next type of call is the hand call. This is where I have had many people disagree with me. I define this by a hand call simply because it is used by the hand and not by the mouth. Some would still describe a mouth call as a hand call because you still use your hands while using it. Nevertheless, I define a hand call as any I use in my hand only such as a squeaker or squealer. These calls are typically used as a coaxer if a coyote gets “hung up” on its way into your setup. They are usually soft and subtle and keep the coyote interested.
The last type of call is the electronic or e-caller. This is the most expensive type of call on the market starting out at around $100 (sometimes less) and reaching as high at $700+. Some have remotes that can reach 200+ yards and use real animal sounds. Coming with pre-programmed sounds or customizable sounds, some even have an option for a long “sequence” of sounds to simplify what sound to use and when. E-calls are the easiest caller to use and many beginning hunters purchase these and learn from them before moving onto mouth/hand calls. Some popular e-callers are made by FoxPro, Lucky Duck, IcoTec, and Primos. So if you can use the TV remote, you can use and e-caller, but so can everyone else.
THE WILE-E COYOTE
The coyote is a fun predator to hunt and there is an abundance of them. Many people think that the coyote is a dumb and stupid animal, well if you have ever hunted them or try to hunt them you will find that they are far from dumb and stupid. The key to being successful at hunting coyotes is to get to know the coyote. Get to know their habitat, behaviors, patterns, territory, breeding season, mating season, pup season, etc. If you have a dog, think about how you trained it and think of coyote hunting as training coyotes or as we call it educating coyotes. If you simply go into an area with no plan and coyotes are in that area they will know you are there and may not respond or let themselves be seen. They will watch every move you make, hear every sound and if you’re not playing the wind they will definitely smell you well before they see or hear you. Bottom line you are educating them even before you try calling to them.
The key to being successful at hunting coyotes is to get into a stand without being seen, heard or smelt. I don’t care who you talk to the one thing all seasoned coyote hunters agree on is “YOU WILL NEVER BEAT A COYOTES NOSE!!!” There is no scent blocker or cover made to fool a coyote’s nose. Coyotes use their nose more than any other sense and you will not fool it. Coyotes, like your pet dog, smell in parts per trillion not part per million like most animals. Think of it this way, when you smell a bowl of chili it smells like, well, chili. When a dog or coyote for that matter smells a bowl of chili it smells the beef, the tomatoes, the chili power, the onions, the different beans, the paprika, the salt, the pepper, in short is smells every ingredient individually. The way we combat this special feature of the coyote is by playing the wind from the time we get out of the truck.
Playing the wind is a very simple concept, and that concept is this, keep the wind in your face or at your 90 degree, NEVER AT YOUR BACK! How you approach the setup should be planned prior to ever leaving the house. Use a weather app or OnX Hunt app to find out what direction the wind is at the area you plan to hunt. If the area cannot be hunted without the possibility of educating coyote before you ever get there then don’t hunt it. Only hunt setups the wind correlates with. An area that can be accessed from multiple directions is best. For example, you check the weather app and there is a North wind. Park on the southern edge of the property from the coyotes and walk into the wind. By doing this there is no physical way the coyote can smell you. Continuously check the wind throughout the hunt. If the wind has shifted you should adjust accordingly. It is not uncommon to leave one setup and walk 50- 100 yards left or right to get back into position with the wind.
Now that you’ve learned about the main sense of smell lets talk about its other senses. A coyote’s sense of sight is the next line of defense it uses. The coyote evolved in the prairies where eyesight and smell is everything. Camo is not a necessity needed to hunt coyotes. Clothes with the color of natural ground color such as browns and tans is sufficient. More importantly is how and where you move. Slow smooth movements will less likely spook coyotes. While walking into the setup stay in lower areas such as creeks and drainages to help conceal your movement. The sounds you make should be limited from the time you pull up to the area being hunted. Do not slam the door, but instead press it quietly shut. Avoid trails covered in leaves or old crunchy foliage to avoid excess sound while sneaking into your setup. The best way to kill a coyote is to never let it know you are there. If you play the wind, move slowly and methodically, and be as quiet as possible you will be successful in getting a coyote into your setup.
KNOW YOUR PREY
Let’s cover some more facts about the song dog, such as habitats. Coyotes have a wide variety of habitats. These habitats range from plains, forests, mountains, and deserts of Canada all the way th
Brandon Nilly of Coyote Calling Academy podcast shows off a coyote with lighter colored pelt.
rough the USA down into Central America. The climate and terrain a coyote lives in effects the color and fullness of its fur. For example, a coyote that lives in the desert would have a lighter tan color along with thinner shorter hair whereas a coyote living in the mountains would be darker colored with a thicker fur. This one small fact shows how easily the coyote is adaptable to any habitat.
Another good thing to know is what a coyote’s diet consists of. This is can be a big help when deciding what kind of sound to you use in your hunting area. A coyote’s diet varies as much as its habitat as it consists of both meat and vegetation. Coyotes eat any and all kinds of protein from insects, rodents, snakes, and fish to larger animals such as deer, turkey, livestock, even your household pets. They are not picky when it comes to having a fresh meal or scavenging on a week-old kill. When no meat is available coyotes are known to browse for berries, certain grasses, and even eat livestock feces and after-birth during calving seasons.
The mating and pup seasons of the coyote is as important for hunting them as the “rut” is for hunting deer. The coyote breeding season can be looked at similarly as that of deer also. Coyotes are more vocal and usually more mobile during its breeding season. The breeding season for coyotes is typically from December through early March. The pups will be born in a den the female has dug during her gestation period which last 8-10 weeks. Once the pups are born the male will do all the hunting for the female, pups, and himself. Around 2 weeks after birth the female will start introducing her pups to the outside world. Once outside the den the male no longer helps take care of the pups or the female. The female spends the summer months teaching the pups to hunt for themselves and by the following fall they will be self-sufficient. These are key factors in knowing how to call a coyote, so keep that in mind.
The type of sound used to call in coyotes has a lot to do with the time of year and even the time of day. Let’s start with the coyote breeding season or early spring. During this time the males are searching for “in season” females and will travel long distances. Coyote vocals such as lone howls, female yodels, female lone howls and female whimpers are a great choice. During this time of year distress sounds can work on a traveling coyote thinking it’s getting a quick meal. I personally have better success using only vocals during this time of year.
After breeding season there is somewhat of a dead time when it comes to calling coyotes for most people. The weather is turning hot, females are denned up with their new litters leaving on the males out roaming and hunting. This is actually a very good time of year to use distress sounds. Remember it is summer at this point and its hot so being close to a water source while calling is plus. Distress sounds I like to use during this time of year are fawn distress, baby rabbit, or any other young prey sound. Most animal’s young are becoming mature enough to be out and about at this point but are still clumsy when it comes to staying protected. Therefore most young prey sound works.
By late summer/early fall the pups have grown and are weaned off their mother and somewhat hunting on their own. When the pups start venturing out on their own is a great opportunity to use pup distress or pup screams. The pack is still very protective over the youngsters and even though the pups have wondered off they still come running to save the day. Distress sounds will work great on these younger coyotes. These young coyotes are almost full grown but still very ignorant to hunters. Use this to you advantage.
Winter is the time of year when ever predator hunter is out calling. The colder the weather the better. Coyotes need to consume calories to keep warm. This time of year seems to be the easiest time to use distress sounds and even howls or challenge. Don’t be scared to use off the wall sounds. Any kind of distress sound works during this time of year. Over time the rabbit distress has become
Coyote hunting can fill the gap between deer and turkey season
less and less effective. Even if the type of animal sound you are using does not live in that area it may still work. I have used elk calf distress in Southeastern Oklahoma, as well as using domestic puppy in distress in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, in the mountains further than 50 miles from the nearest town.
One final piece of advice when it comes to sounds to use. Coyotes howl all year long. It is their main way to communicate so always keep that in mind when calling. Also, finishing a setup with coyote pup distress is a great way to get that one coyote to finally commit before you decide to move on to the next setup. Vocals are always a good way to start a setup and to finish a setup.
If you study and know the time of year and what the coyotes are doing during that time of year you will tilt the scales to your advantage. There is not one set the same as the last. The same sounds and sequences you use on a successful set may work on the next setup or it may never work again. Keep in mind that if you are using, or going to use an e-caller and everyone else is using an e-caller, all those sounds that you are throwing at a coyote they may have already heard and are now “educated” and you didn’t know. That is where the mouth and hand calls come in great as no 2 sounds are alike. That is what makes coyote calling so addictive and frustrating at the same time.
Keep practicing and studying and we will see you for Part 3