Part III: So, you want to hunt coyotes
Written by Jerad Mixon
Third and final part of “So you want to hunt coyotes”
By now, your rifle is setup along with any equipment you find necessary, you have practiced shooting from the seated position, worked on sound control with the calls to be used, learned everything you can about coyotes, and you have verified the weather pattern and wind direction is correct to walk into you set undetected. Now its time to find the coyotes!
Just like any other hunting, whether it be deer, turkey, elk or any other game animal, in order to be successful, you need to scout. Scouting for coyotes is easier than you think and there are many tools available for you as a predator hunter. One thing you can do is look at Google Earth to find a landscape you would like to hunt. Look at the vegetation, cover,
water sources, hills, draws, etc. Pay close attention to the high and low elevations in the area to help with walking in undetected. Get out and drive the county/country back roads, look in the fields for coyotes and other predators. If you think an area will be a good place to hunt coyotes, stop, get out and howl with your call to see if you get an answer. If you get an answer guess what, there are
coyotes there! You can also talk to school bus drivers, mail carriers, or utility workers who drive the roads regularly and ask them if they have noticed any coyotes.
Are there farmers or ranchers in your area? If so, stop and ask them if they have seen or heard coyotes on their land. If the answer is yes, ask them if you can hunt them, more times than not the farmer/rancher will grant permission to shoot them as getting rid of the coyotes saves them from losing cattle and other animals. OnX Hunt app is another great scouting source. You can download it onto on your smart phone. This app will have landowner info and how to contact them. Once you have gained access to a property get out and walk the ground. See if the rancher will show you where he has seen the most coyote activity. Also, ask him to show you where the property boundaries are. Not all coyote hunting has to be done in wide open ranges. Coyotes feel safe and are usually more prone to come to a call while in the timber. Some people think that they have too many trees in an area and they can’t hunt coyotes. There are many coyote/predator hunters that hunt thick trees with shotguns. More times than not you will have a 10-30 yard shot when hunting in timber which can be a lot more exciting than putting one down at 200 yards with your rifle. Moral of the story is coyotes have all kinds of different habitats, so don’t focus on just one. Use them all to your advantage when scouting. With all these scouting tools at a predator hunter’s disposal, nothing beats going out and listening and looking for coyotes yourself.
After scouting and deciding where you want to hunt its time get setup. The term setup in synonymous with the words stand or set. When other hunters say any of these words they are talking about the same thing. When it comes to the setup there are specific things I look for. The #1 most important detail I look for in a setup is coyote sign such as scat, tracks, or prey carcasses, but you have already done your scouting so this shouldn’t be a problem. After I have found signs of coyotes in the area, I look for an elevated position to setup but not too elevated so not to be skylined. Skylined means being in a position where the coyote can see your silhouette at the top of the horizon. Predatory animals use the natural layout of the land to keep themselves concealed via low
lying areas such as drainages or creek bottoms. This elevated position will give you the advantage over the animal by letting it believe it is completely hidden when in fact it is in plain sight for you as the hunter. If hunting in areas where there are no elevated positions available such as SE Oklahoma where I grew up, using trails made by cattle or fence lines are a good place to sit. Set up on the edge of tall grass or some other vegetation to break up your silhouette. Coyotes will always take the path of least resistance when coming to wounded prey or to answer the call of another coyote. Also, setting up next to a water source or timber thicket are other good natural layouts that hold animals close. Last but not least is use the wind. Always keep the wind in your face, or have a cross wind, left to right or right to left. Even though you may do everything right when it comes to the wind, always keep an eye on the downwind side as a coyote will almost always try to getdown wind. You have settled into your set, the wind in right, it’s time to start calling.
Calling sequences can change from set to set depending on the type of animal, time of year, and even time of day. Early mornings and late evenings are generally best for coyote vocals such as lone howls, yips, and group howls. Just like everything else with predator hunting, I have had exceptions when coyotes have howled at me in the middle of the day. I like to start my coyote stands with some version of a howl. This howl can be a male or female lone howl, pup howl, or group yip howls. I do this for two reasons. The first reason is it can get me a response from coyotes in the area by them answering back with howls giving me their position allowing me to relocate to a closer perhaps better setup. The second reason is it may get a more aggressive response from a dominant coyote in the area by him charging in to push a “new” coyote out. Either way this gives the advantage to you. Let’s go through a complete calling sequence of my average coyote stand.
I like to start out howling with my diaphragm from MFK Game Calls or Coyote Creek Calls. My first howl is as long and loud as I can physically do. Immediately upon ending the first howl I howl again. This second howl starts with excited barks or yips and goes into another long howl. At this point, I wait a few minutes to give any coyotes the chance to answer back or, best case scenario, walk into my set. If nothing happens, I make several more howls over 8-10 minutes combining howls with my diaphragm and my e-caller. After getting no response from vocals I move onto the next step. The next step is a prey distress. This distress sound can be a rabbit, fawn, or any other kind of prey a coyote finds appealing. The sound should be used 1-3 minutes then silence for 2-3 minutes. During this first sequence on distress start out with a lower volume. After each period of silence bring the volume up. I repeat this process 3-5 times. If nothing comes into your set move onto the next step. After distress I go back to coyote vocals of some kind, usually coyote pup distress, but this isn’t an exact science. I have also gone back to howls or even a coyote/ fox fight. If the stand is still a dud at this point, I will finish with a pup distress or coyote pup screams. If there is one thing I do every time on a coyote stand it is end with some variation of pup distress. I play or blow this sound for 3-5 straight minutes with no break. After finishing this last sequence I will sit quietly for up to 10 minutes. With coyote evolving and becoming more educated they have become leery of distress sounds. Sitting and waiting after calling gives the coyote a false sense of safety that it was actually prey and not a hunter. My typical stand lasts at least 45 minutes. I have found that calling longer and being more patient has allowed me to be more successful. The system I use will by no means make you successful every time. My last piece of advice to help you become a successful predator hunter is this, don’t get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again. Evolve just like the coyote you’re chasing. Change things up and stay confident in the decisions you make.
Predator/coyote hunting can be very rewarding and very humbling too. You may go out and do your first stand and call one in and shoot it, you may do several stands and not call anything in. I have gone days even weeks without calling a single thing in and just about the time I think about giving up, here comes a coyote and I’m hooked all over again. You need to know the area in which you are hunting such as how pressured is it, how many humans are around, are the hunters all using e-calls, etc. This takes a huge toll on your success rate. There are many coyote hunters that will only sit at a stand for 15-20 minutes, some have a 30 minute max time they will sit. I have hunted with other coyote hunters who have told me that there are coyotes in the area but they can’t get them to commit. I asked him why that is and what he was using to call and how long he was sitting. He was using an e-caller and that is all that he used and would only sit for about 20 minutes. We decided to do a stand there and I did nothing but hand/mouth calls and at minute 52 we had a coyote come in. Now was it because I was using hand/mouth calls or was it because we sat there longer than he did in the past? The only thing I do know is we killed a coyote. The point I am trying to make is that don’t get discouraged or upset if you don’t call a coyote in right away, of if you get busted by a coyote, you will learn more about this type of hunting from your failures than you will your successes, that I promise you!! Patience and persistence is key when coyote hunting!!
Get out there and get’r done!