Since coyotes are natural predators, the more you kill the more deer and livestock you save. Successful coyote hunts after deer season closes can contribute greatly to a successful deer season next year.
Unfortunately, the knowledge some people have about coyote behavior seems to come from the Saturday morning cartoons. Every year, people go into the woods with a rifle, a dying rabbit coyote call, and a deeply held belief that they are going to come home with a load of coyote pelts. It seldom works out that way.
One thing to remember about coyotes is that they are one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth. Native American tribes called the coyote the “medicine dog,” and considered him the trickster of the animal kingdom. No matter how intensively they are hunted and trapped, they simply cannot be eradicated.
While other species are crowded out of their habitat by clearing for farmland and construction, coyotes have the unique ability to adapt to any change. Turn their woods into farmland and they go from feeding on deer and small game to feeding on vermin with the occasional attack on livestock. Put in a housing project and they eat pet food left outside and dig through leftovers thrown out as trash, eventually working their way up to eating outdoor pets.
Hunting coyotes requires a workable plan. Know what your plan is and how, exactly, you are going to accomplish it.
To successfully hunt coyotes requires a great deal of patience. Be prepared to wait, silent and motionless, blending into the background for a length of time before you see any action.
The following coyote hunting tips should give you a great deal of advantage the next time you are going after this predator:
If you want permission to hunt on private property, make sure you explain that you are hunting coyotes. Remember: Coyotes are livestock predators. The landowner who may refuse you permission to hunt deer or rabbits may suddenly become your new best friend when he learns that you want to kill the coyotes that have been after his stock.
For newcomers, a good electronic caller can not be beaten. Don’t waste time with a manual caller you may or may not be able to use properly. Learning to use a mouth call is like learning a musical instrument. That guy on TV made it look easy, but he may have had hundreds of hours of practice. Tip number 8 goes into detail on which call are best and how to use them
If using bait for predator control is legal in your area, save some road kill to place near the caller for an added attraction.
For newcomers, a semiautomatic rifle like an AR-15 or an AK-47 may seem like a good idea. If you miss with that first shot, there are plenty more in reserve. In reality, excitement takes over and you waste a clip full of ammo spraying the woods as your coyote disappears into the distance. Remember the old sniper adage: “One shot, one kill.”
For open ground, a good, small caliber, flat-shooting, bolt action rifle, something in the neighborhood of a .222, .223, .224 or a 6mm carries all the power you need to bring down a coyote. The advantage of a bolt action is that it forces you to stop, think, and aim your shot. Choose a good scope and know where that shot is going to hit at 100, 200, and 300 yards. For woodland and heavy brush, a shotgun loaded with buckshot is an excellent choice.
Coyotes, like other canines, have highly developed sight senses. The slightest movement is noticed. Instead of moving your head from side to side, practice holding your head still and moving just your eyes.
Use camouflage clothing that blends you into the surrounding environment. Remember that a white face against a dark background is like shining a spotlight. A camouflage face mask or camouflage face paint is a must.
Canines, like coyotes, have a highly enlarged olfactory bulb. Although they have an amplified sense of vision and hearing, coyotes rely on their sense of smell the most. Coyotes instinctively use the wind. They tend to circle and try to get downwind of any prey. That means downwind of predator calls. Try to pick a location that makes it impossible for the coyote to move downwind without revealing himself. Many experienced hunters advise you to always be downwind of the animal, but this is not always possible.
Just in case, there are a number of scent blocking items on the market. Scent pads can be attached to boots, clothing, etc. and then soaked with animal scent. This will not mask your scent completely, but it may confuse the coyote long enough for you to get off that one good shot.
Coyotes respond to a variety of sounds, ranging from prey sounds, like an injured rabbit, to socialization sounds among members of the pack, to warning and challenge sounds from an alpha male.
Electronic calls, if legal in your area, have the ability to mimic a wide array of sounds, with a speaker that projects that sound a good distance. Try each call and see which works best for you. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little. Set the electronic caller well away from your spot but still in your line of sight and use a remote to set it off. Keeping the coyote’s attention on the caller means that he is less likely to notice you.
By the time a decoy method, like a rabbit-in-distress call, becomes popular with hunters, experienced coyotes have already learned that it signals danger and run away from the call. Substitute a calf or deer fawn call, or even a coyote pup in distress call, instead.
Try not to overdo the calling. Call no more than every few minutes or so. An animal in distress will not call out continuously for a long period of time. Constant noise from overcalling is a good way to send the coyotes running for the hills. Overuse of a call means that the coyotes in your vicinity may soon associate it with a hunter, perceive it as a warning, and run in the opposite direction.
In addition of being extremely curious, coyotes are extremely suspicious. Even with the right call, they may circle, pace back and forth, and smell the wind for 30 minutes or more before they come close enough for a shot. Notice that I said MAY circle, pace, etc. Always make sure you are ready to shoot before you start the call. The last thing you want is to have an uneducated youngster rushing in before you are ready. The smarter the coyote, the longer he will take to come into range. I cannot say this often enough: “Have Patience. All good things come to he who waits.” Warning: after 30 minutes of no movement, you should be thinking about where to set up next.
Beware of the telltale “click” when you flick the safety to “fire.” The easiest way to overcome this is to set the safety to fire ahead of time and just keep your trigger finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
A windy day does not equal a lost day. Yes, hunting in a wind at 25 to 31mph, rated as a “strong breeze,” is useless. But, a “fresh breeze,” 19 to 24 mph, with no rain, is good hunting weather. Just remember that the greater the wind speed, the greater the chance coyotes will try to come in downwind. A windy day also serves to camouflage sound, making it harder for the coyote to hear you.
Every year, coyotes are harvested by deer hunters shooting from elevation, either a tree stand or a free-standing elevated blind on legs, and for good reasion. See if you can get above the ground as high as practical. Shooting at a downward angle also expands your safety margin, especially in a semi-urban environment. Your shots will not carry as far. Like deer, coyotes are genetically programmed to look all around for threats but do not think to look up. Being in the air will also keep your scent up above the ground.
If at all possible, try to hunt after a storm, the bigger the storm, the better. Any animal, predator or prey, will take refuge during the storm, and then come out hungry and bored afterward. Hunting conditions after a storm are as good as it gets.
Unless you are shooting pro and using the ground as a rest, you should try to establish as stable a shooting platform as possible. If there is no natural rest, like a rock formation, tree stump, or log, consider using shooting sticks, such as a monopod, bipod, or tripod.
Depending on how much you are willing to spend and how much gear you are willing to carry; there are shooter’s chairs, also called sniper seats, available that give you a combination of a solid rest and comfortable seating.
One of the biggest mistakes hunters make is to chase after a wounded animal. As long as the animal hears you crashing through the brush behind him, he will keep running and looking for a place to hide. The best thing to do is to take a break of 20 to 30 minutes before following the blood trail. This will give the animal plenty of time to stop, rest, and bleed out. Following the blood trail later will be a lot easier later with an animal that stopped than with one that kept running scared.
There are many high-quality blood tracking lights on the market. Coupled with orange filtered glasses, they make following a blood trail much easier.
Good Luck and Good Hunting!