By Mark Kayser
I’m not going to mail you any rose-colored glasses, so here’s the truth on calling coyotes in the late season: It’s tough! In most zip codes, coyotes have been chased, trapped, shot at and all-out harassed for 5 solid months—or more. Calling contests, professional animal damage control officials, and hardcore predator hunters add to the mix of pressure. That leaves weekend warriors like you and me having to find our A game or go home skunked. I’ve seen the additional pressure even in remote areas of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana, where I do most of my hunting. This past weekend I had 25 percent success on setups, 50 percent if you count the howling conversation I had with a local pack too paranoid to show itself. I was elated and this is how I went about putting a coyote in the truck. Below are a few coyote calling tips to help you on your next coyote hunt.
Most North American coyotes breed from January through March. February is the peak season for them to get it on. Because coyotes need two to tango, like most species they start out the month on the hunt for a mate. Later in the month they get a bit more defensive to territorial invaders and look to rumble. In any case, simple howls can perk the ears of a lackadaisical coyote and put it on course to the end of your rifle barrel. Coyotes responding to a howl oftentimes take a long time to arrive, especially in open country, so plan to spend 30-45 minutes on every stand where howling is a mainstay.
Subtle Is Believable
I generally start out most of my setups in a low-volume fashion. If a coyote is close or paranoid, it tends to sound more believable to them. After 10 minutes I ramp up the volume, but I still don’t squall for minutes on end. I believe subtle is more believable, and if you give coyotes too many clues you might cause them to think twice about the ruse in play. Short bursts of prey-in-distress are my recipe for success.
If nothing shows up after 25 minutes of howling combined with prey-in-distress, I like to add in some canine fighting sounds. Coyotes yipping and growling could be the sounds of two dogs fighting over a bone, or it could sound like a lover’s spat to a distant song dog. Nevertheless, I have lots of luck with the sounds of canine chaos.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try different sounds in the same setup. My last coyote fell to a trio of sounds. I started out with lone howls, but had no response. After 10 minutes I switched to a high-pitched rodent squall since I was set up next to a prairie dog town. At the 15-minute mark I added in a series of coyote fighting sounds. Wow! The next time I looked up I had a coyote bearing down on me at less than 75 yards. With the coyote so close I didn’t need to send my decoy dog Sage into action, and my son, Cole, was turned the opposite direction 30 yards away, so it was up to me. I rotated my Smith and Wesson M&P15 , clicked off the safety and sent a Hornady V-Max Valentine downrange with love.