Photo courtesy of Diana Robinson/Flickr
Fool one of these superwary predators and you earn the rank of expert hunter. Here’s how to do it:
Focus on areas that hold small game, birds, mice, and vermin. CRP fields, brushy creek- or riverbottoms, swamps and marshes, and young clear-cuts are all excellent choices. Most farmers will gladly give you permission to hunt. Pinpoint your spots by looking for tracks and listening for barks, yips, and howls at dawn and dusk. The ideal conditions for a hunt are cold, calm days. Windy days are the worst.
Stealth is the first priority: no slamming vehicle doors or talking to your partner. Settle into a comfortable shooting position on a knoll or field edge that offers good visibility, and wait five to 15 minutes before calling.
Coyotes have extremely keen eyesight and, like any animal coming to a call, are looking hard for its source. Make sure your camo is good and that your hands and face are covered. A cushion to sit on helps you keep still.
If no coyotes come to your calls, sneak back out and drive to another area at least a half mile away, and repeat the process. You should be able to cover eight to 10 good spots in a day of hunting.
You don’t need much to start, and you may already have it:
CALLS Mouth-operated rabbit squealers are a must, but don’t rely on them alone. Also use other distress calls and coyote howlers.
DECOYS These act as a closer to your calls. One of your kid’s beat-up stuffed animals can suffice, though battery-run motion dekes work best.
GUNS Flat-shooting rifles in .223 caliber work best in open terrain, but your deer rifle will do the trick. Shot-guns rule in thick timber or on night hunts (where legal). If you hunt turkeys, you probably already own the right setup: a tight-choked 12-gauge that throws a dense pattern out to 35 yards. Use No. 4 buckshot in magnum loads.
THE IDEAL COYOTE SETUP
Wind is key, but other factors can help put the odds in your favor.
Patience: Most coyotes respond to calls quickly, but they can take their time. Call for at least 20 minutes before moving on.
Calling: Put some emotion into your distress calls for realism. Coyotes are very territorial, and calls that imitate their howls work great at this time of year.
Stealth: Approach from down-wind, and use cover. An obstacle (road, field) at your back prevents incoming coyotes from circling downwind.