Looking for a Coyote Calling Expert

I am far from a coyote-calling champion, and certainly do not get as much practice as I would prefer—too many hobbies and the boss still expects me to somehow get my work done. That’s why, when I headed out to do a little predator hunting the other day, I opted to use a digital call. I have a couple of dandies with a ton of different buttons and sounds. I wasn’t sure one would work best, but I was bound to try at least a handful and see what kind of results I could get.

Coyotes are a funny lot. They are driven by hunger and a natural suspicion that make them extremely skittish. If Yogi Berra were a hunter he may have described coyotes as being driven by fear 90 percent of the time and hunger the other half.

I remember learning that lesson the hard way. I once lined up a coyote at about 100 yards. It was just trotting along, searching for food and acting like it did not have a care in the world. That is until the safety made a slight ‘snick’ as I switched it off. At that distance, I didn’t give much thought as to whether or not the dog would hear anything. The noise was so slight and the coyote so far. Anyway, as soon as I had the crosshairs on it, I was going to whistle or something. I figured the noise would cause it to post up for a second and give me a good shot.

I learned the difference between the brainpower of song dogs and myself that day. As soon as that safety broke, the coyote was in high gear and looking for a neighboring zip code. While I did not get the dog that day, I did walk away with an education that has served me well since.

I have learned not to take them for granted. Occasionally, you can get away with a lot movement and noise. You can squeal like a cottontail in area that have never seen a cottontail since time immemorial and still be successful. You can also use the same call in a cottontail Mecca and send the coyote scampering away with its tail between its legs.

To be a successful predator hunter, you must remain agile and be prepared to change tactics as the conditions dictate. Electronic calls can aid in this effort by removing the requirement of relying on a single sound or call. E-callers allow you to play multiple sounds at once. You can make it squeal like a dying rabbit and rustling leaves at the same time. You can play a soft squeaking mouse to pique a dog’s curiosity bellow out a call that get some distance or locate a predator in dense hardwoods such as a feral hog in distress.

I must say, I do not have all of the answers nor have I had the pleasure of pursing dogs in all states. So I leave the question up to our readers. What is your go-to coyote call? Do you prefer to do the work and blow on a mouth call or rely on modern-day technology to do the work for you? Have a particular sound that works every time? Let us know about your favorite tactic or set up. This is your chance to be the expert for a change and tell us about your favorite call or strategy. I’ll then collect the best responses and tactics and feed them into another article crediting the author.

Can you unlock the secrets of calling predators close? Let us know in the comment section.

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Comments (7)

  1. SBRoger, I’ve heard that from that same old man, I believe……..about them strengthening their numbers, after your efforts to decimate them. Your story about baiting reminded me of the time I tried it. The cottontails near my house near the edge of town, had wolves. That’s what the old timers called them. Parasites that looked like slugs, that bored holes through them, from subsisting on garbage dumped in the fringe areas, not rabbits from farther out in the country, where it’s cleaner with fewer people. I went out to a hilly area around a lake, with poor graizing grasses, cactus, and mesquites one afternoon in February, and shot half a dozen or so of these rabbits. I gutted them, leaving entrials hanging, and tied them about shoulder high, with trotline cord, in several mesquites, low on the north side of a hill, where I could see them from about 40 yards uphill, where there was a big downed mesquite trunk I could lean against for cover. February is mating season for the little yodel dogs, so they’ll throw caution to the wind at that time of year. There was no moon that week. This is also an area where I knew there were coyotes, as I only lived about a mile from there. So, the stage was set. The sun was sinking, and it was getting cold, with a northwest breeze. I went home, and set the alarm for1:45 am. By 2:30am, I’d crawled into position against that tree trunk, with a breeze in my face, and a Q Beam w/battery next to me. A remington 740 in 30.06 w/ a red light mounted on the scope laid across my lap. A SuperBlackhawk was beside me, and I had a Super X Model One Winchester 12ga, w/00 Buck, with butt on my thigh, pointed straight up, with the saftey off, and my finger on the trigger. I know, but I was young. After 20 minutes, I started blowing the mouth call, and after about three blowing sequences, a four foot ceiling fan swooped in to take the camo tobogan off my head. That’s when I fired twice, without thinking, and a few seconds later, as I was regaining my composure, I noticed several feathers floating down around me. Probably a Red Tailed Hawk. I’d heard both them, and Owls out there that night, but apparently, I’d only wounded one, never found a downed bird after searching. Never got a Coyote that night either. Mating season is forgiving to the Coyote hunter, but not that forgiving. I stayed out there ’til after sunrise, and logged that one away, untill 30 some odd years later, this morning, when I read your comment, Roger. I’m disabled now, and don’t hunt anymore, but if I did, predator hunting would be my choice.

  2. We don’t call them in. We freeze our deer hides and guts in a half of a 55 gal. drum and then just dump them in the field where we want to shoot them. Another trick that works well is staking the hide down to the ground and let it “aerate”. If we have to we sit in our deer blind or on my cousins porch about 200 to 300 yards away (while we BBQ deer meat). We like to get 2 or 3 lined up while they are intent on pulling the hides. It sounds easy but sometimes we have to use a 2 million watt spot light when it’s dark.
    One thing an old man told me is “you better shoot them all because they’ll reproduce more than the ones you shoot to replace the ones they loose.
    If you have a real problem with coyotes you can “troll” for them. That’s done by hanging a piece of meat on a big treble hook about 3 feet off the ground. When they jump up for the meat … they’re hooked. It sounds cruel but when they’ve killed your sheep, calves and other live stock you’ll get mad enough to settle the score. Just keep your dogs tied up when you do it of course.

  3. It’s been years since I went calling Dave, but used to love to more than 30 years ago. While I’m no expert, I do have that nice big Bitch hide on my Den wall, that I took back in ’83, the year we had 10 degree days, and 0 to 2degree nights for two and a half weeks here.

    I was out hunting every available moment during that period for varmints week days and nights when I didn’t have to earn a living, and deer hunting the morning I shot that Coyote, so technically, I didn’t call it in. That didn’t delete any excitement for me, as I rationalize it made up for times I called in something in the dark, without a clean shot, or something Murphy would hurl my way. I never experienced any of the new fangled electronic calls, actually they were still kinda new in the late 70s/early 80s, and well out of my means. I used a Weems or Weams mouth blown Jack Rabbit call when I first began, but, eventually, I had the pleasure of meeting Murry Burnham at the “Hunter’s Extravaganza” here in Ft Worth one year. After being in his face for several minutes, telling him about every book and magazine article I had at home about him, his brother Winston, their Dad, and how he’d started the company many years ago, Murry presented me with a brand new Cottontail mouth call, and a Burnham Bros “callingest calls made” ball cap, and I walked out of that show on a cloud.

    I’d say you can’t leave anything to chance. The slightest oversight in un-natural movement, smells, sounds…….you have to be in the woods, without any trace of having been there. If you’ve ever seen how a Bobcat never just walks out into a clearing, or walks out of sight down a trail, they just “appear”. They seem to drift or “float” silently, without making deliberate movement….like a ghost. People call them the “grey ghost”, and after having witnessed that, I now understand why. Moving about in the woods like”the grey ghost” is conducive to seeing game of any kind. You never know what you miss, by being careless. People on the current TV shows make it look easy, and honestly, if it were as easy, I wouldn’t enjoy doing it. I’ve always equated it in difficulty to making a deer hunt like walking out there, and shooting a cow.

    I believe most in-experienced, unsuccessful hunters make the mistake of calling an area where people may have just called three days prior. You CAN over-call an area, quickly, and easily, and not even know it. Public hunting areas, etc. You should give an area, a couple weeks rest, at least. Not moving far enough between stands is another mistake. Unless you’re in very dense woods and foliage, or there are prolonged and sustained winds, Coyotes can hear much farther than people give credit for. When I would initially begin calling an area, I’d always start (after a good 20 minutes to let the woods calm down) with sucking and kissing the back of my hand. If no reasonable response, I’d try one of those toy moo cows in a can, that you turn upside down to hear the moooo. If you gently shake or wave it a bit, it varies the sound. Sometimes, I’d use a Cottontail mouth call, and open my coat or shirt, and blow it under my arm softly, to mute the sound. A short piece of rubber hose over the end helps here, as you can remain watching, without moving your head about, yet muffle, and vary the pitch, and volume. Then, if still no response, I’d employ the regular technique. My reasoning was that if I moved ghostlike through the woods to my position, why shouldn’t there be a Coyote very nearby, and a harsh initial blast from any call, will likely send your would be trophy quickly away from your position, highly educated, never to be duped that way again, and likely unbeknown to you. They learn very quickly from your mistakes, and are known to pass that knowledge down to their off spring. Many hunters have educated Coyotes without ever realizing it. Of course, calling where Coyotes are known to roam is a definite prerequisite. Just seeing what looks like tracks, and a few turds with hair in the area doesn’t mean they’re there, but hearing several howling just after dark, at a kill site does. At times, a car horn has been known to ignite their howling. A siren, like an ambulance just after dark,up on the highway, a mile from me, will sometime cause two or more groups near my house to come alive, and howl, almost nightly. I guess if you wanted to try to get closer to where they are, you might try while they’re competing with the siren. If nothing else, one of those car alarm sirens, amplified through a CB microphone, and PA horn, would confirm the existence of them in a given area, which could be called at a later time.

    I’m no expert, but I do believe Coyotes are much smarter than we give them credit for, that they can and do learn from a hunter’s mistakes, and won’t be fooled that way again, and that they do pass it down to their offspring.I believe that a hunter can not be careful enough about details, and I believe that in the end,it’s mostly luck, and the law of averages……but, that’s what always drew me to want to be a part of it, and endure discomfort, freezing temps, little sleep, and all that comes with it……just to have a chance at one. Anybody can dodge one crossing the highway, and that makes it seem elementary to many who may take this dog for granted, but don’t under-estimate him. If you ever get tired or complacent with the type of game you hunt, I challenge you to challenge this prolific predator. You won’t decimate his numbers by yourself, not without running over a few in the family truckster, no matter how good a hunter you are.

  4. I hate to say it, but I like comfort when on a set. I recently purchased a Browning Tracker XT portable chair that offers a nice, thick seat and back and that has other convenient features. The rig is well-made and weighs only a couple of pounds. Sounds good? I sent it back to Amazon. The problem with the “chair” is that it requires a fence post, tree, etc., to support the back of the chair or the shooter will tend to fall over backwards. Of course, this wasn’t mentioned in the video I checked out. I was disappointed, but not for long.

    After searching at a few stores—even Walmart—I found a great little collapsible chair at REI (the Everywhere Chair) for about the same price ($40). It allows me to lean back and sit close to the ground, weighs about three pounds, and is very comfortable. It can be used on a hillside, and even has a lumbar support. It can be easily carried or attached to the back of a back pack.

    I could sit in this thing for hours. Of course, it would be nice to have some sort of swiveling chair, but the only ones I have seen are the tripods that force the shooter to sit higher off the ground, making them more visible to the coyotes. I like to shrink into the ground as much as possible for a smaller silhouette, and I always like to shoot with a hill, bush, tall grass, etc. behind me for best concealment.

    Since I usually walk a fair distance from the truck, I have a large back pack into which all the stuff (binoculars, bipod, FoxPro CS-24 electronic caller, remote control, water bottle, hand calls, room for extra cold-weather clothing, gloves, etc., can be packed. The chair will be attached to the back of the pack, leaving my hands free for the rifle. I leave all the “stuff” in the pack when I return home so that I know that it will be there for the next hunt (usually in the fall or winter).

    Once I get set up, I try to place the electronic caller as far away from me as possible, in a patch of grass or at least somewhere where it will be hard for the coyote to see it. I want to be concealed as much as possible, and once I sit down, I don’t want to move. Coyotes have incredible eyesight and hearing, and I don’t want to be squirming around after I start calling. I purchased a decoy a couple of months ago from FoxPro that twirls around via a small electric motor. I have used it only once, but….in my opinion, the jury is out on whether this gizmo is really required, or if it is just another way to lighten your wallet. Others who have used decoys for longer than I have should be able to offer their experiences.

    I have never used a Ghillie suit, so I can’t comment on that type of camo. I try go wear clothing that most closely matches the terrain, and scout that terrain prior to choosing the best clothing. The key word IMO is “concealment.” I have scoured snow camo clothing online and finally decided to go “cheap.” Someone used a white sheet cut out in the form of a poncho on one of the TV shows. That might work, but I decided to buy a used set of mechanic’s coveralls in white from the local NAPA store. I took the coveralls home and tried them on over a couple of cold-weather jackets and ski pants. I have a feeling that I would be warm, but probably only one jacket would suffice unless I planned to hunt in weather that was sub-zero (I don’t). With two jackets on, including the coveralls, I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but the coveralls cost only $20, and I don’t think I will require so many anti-cold undergarments on the fairly mild winter hunts in northeast California or Nevada.

    As for calls, there are many shows on TV, such as “Furtakers” on the Outdoor Channel, and “Predator Instinct” and “Predator Quest” on the Sportsman’s channel. The guys on those shows use a variety of calls, but usually seem to end up using a “distressed pup” at one point or another. I have found that a hungry dog will respond to almost anything, but if he is fat and happy and in a place where there are a lot of food sources available, calling may require some creativity.

    I plan to go on another hunt in November or December—hopefully after it has snowed so that I can have my wife poke fun at my Dough Boy outfit again. I’m a glutton for punishment.

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