No tactics were involved the last time I harvested a coyote. In fact, I became excited when I first glimpsed hair moving through the brush thinking it was a giant Illinois buck. I slowly stood up and checked my mechanical release. Trijicon sponsored the deer hunt and I was one of a few select writers putting Trijicon’s first archery sight, the AccuPin, through its paces.
Normally, I may have let the coyote walk. A coyote is not worth disturbing the deer woods when monster bucks are due to start cruising, but the deer action had been slow the entire hunt and I wanted to chalk up a critter to the new sight. I zipped an arrow through the vitals from 17 yards and the song dog piled up about 20 yards later.
You can’t beat luck. It can be just that easy; however, most often it’s not. While that was an easy one, I must admit it did not bring near the satisfaction of calling a predator in at eye level. If you are looking for a little off-season action coyotes are not only fun, you’ll be helping out the local wildlife and domestic livestock.
The Right Setup
Coyotes are ripe year round. They can devastate local livestock and wildlife during calving season. Calves and fawn are easy prey for a coyote. Just as the deer or elk rut is prime season, late February through early March is the coyote breeding season and the best time to thin the pack.
Coyote hunting can be an all-day sport, but peak movement will be in the early morning hours and at dusk. Well, that is only half-true. Most states consider coyotes a varmint and unregulated. That means no tags and few restrictions. With the right gear, you can go all night long for a completely new experience for most. Imagine being out on the range, coyotes howling and yipping at each other on the hilltops and you are the hunt. It is an experience.
Coyotes depend on sight, sound and smell rather equally. If the coyote has a vulnerability, it would have to be the hearing, but the nose would certainly be its best defense. Once a coyote hears the call signaling an easy meal, it will normally try get a whiff from downwind to check thing out first. Cover scent will help, but a large rock or cliff base, river or steep embankment is better. If possible keep the dog from getting downwind. If that is not possible, keep one eye pointed in that direction.
Calling and Decoying
I received a real education on calling when I hunted with World Calling Champion, Al Morris. Beyond understanding the terrain, Al can speak the right language and brings ‘em in like they were on a string. The downside—if you are not hunting with a world calling champion—is your calling will bring the coyote right to your spot. That’s why I prefer electronic calls. You can place electronic calls several yards away. By using several calls, and randomly alternating which one you use, you can simulate wounded prey on the move to keep from being pinpointed.
There are several quality motion decoys on the market and where legal they work to add the motion that makes the noise seem real to coyote. However, electronic decoys are illegal in many areas, but here is a cheap alternative. Tie a couple of turkey feathers to an old arrow shaft or fishing pole. The feathers will dangle and blow, catching the song dog’s eye and keeping it away from you.