15 Tips for Killing More Coyotes
The hottest buzz in western hunting today has nothing to do with big deer antlers. Instead it is something you can do all year around, with no bag limit most places. The game population is on the increase, too. Best of all, it is a form of hunting that sees private landowners often welcome in outsiders, even when they have closed their land to most of us to deer hunting or elk hunting.
Here we are talking about hunting predators, of which coyotes are by far the most plentiful and popular animal hunted but also including critters like bobcats and foxes.
“The increased popularity of predator hunting in general, and coyote hunting in particular, has many reasons,” said the editor of Predator Xtreme magazine, the leading authority in varmint hunting in the country. “For one thing, in many areas it has been documented that western deer and elk herds, as well as wild turkey in some areas, suffer a high fawn or poult kill percentage directly related to predators, most usually coyotes. Also, in some areas prime coyotes hides can bring a hundred bucks or more, an added incentive to hunt them in winter, when hides have their best quality. In most places you are also able to hunt 12 months a year with nothing more than a hunting license – there are no special tags to draw – there is lots of public land available, and often you are welcome on private lands that would otherwise be closed to you by ranchers who want and need to see predator numbers reduced.”
If all this sounds as good to you as it does to us, you are ready to hit the ground running and start hunting coyotes. However, you need to be aware that with increased popularity comes added hunting pressure, which can smarten up a naturally wary animal like the coyote overnight. To that end you need to take your game to the next level if consistent success is your goal. Here are 15 advanced tips from someone who has been successfully thinning western coyote numbers for four decades.
- Where legal, using an electronic caller will make you an instant expert. There are several models available ranging in price from about 40 bucks on up to $600. Using a call with a remote control allows you to place the call and speakers up to 100 yards away from you, an incredible vantage because when the dogs come in, they will pinpoint the exact spot the sound is coming from and direct their attention there, not at where you lie in wait.
- Always try and take an elevated treestand, paying careful attention to your back cover so you are not skylined. Keep movement to a minimum once a calling sequence has begun. And before you make the first sound, have your rifle in position to shoot in the direction you expect the predators to emerge.
- Don’t make mistake of facing directly at the position of the electronic call’s speakers. Coyotes usually come in to the downwind side. It is better for a right-handed shooter to have the call slightly off your left shoulder so you can swing the rifle easily and with minimal movement.
- Classic rabbit-in-distress or rodent-in-distress calls will work all year. However, do not ignore more specific calls like fawn distress calls in spring. All predators are opportunists that will come to whatever they perceive to be an easy meal. In spring, that is often newly-born elk and deer fawns. And do not overlook other sounds, like small birds, rodents, and coyote challenge and dominance sounds. All have their place.
- Try and limit your calling sessions to no more than 30 minutes per hunting location, unless you are hunting areas where bobcats are prevalent. Unlike coyotes and foxes, which usually arrive relatively quickly if they are going to come, bobcats come in slow and cautious and can take up to a half hour or more. When you decide it is time to relocate to a new calling spot, move at least a quarter mile before calling again.
- Top calibers for general-purpose western predator hunting are flat-shooting .22 calibers for open country. These include rounds like the .22 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250, and .220 Swift. Some people are using one of the new hot .17 calibers, but even though they’ll do the job these are really best for smaller game. In dense cover, 12 gauge shotguns loaded with some of the hot new tungsten shot loads using No. 2 or 4 shot can be deadly to 50 yards. When hunting with a partner, it is often a good idea for one to carry a rifle while the other packs a 12 gauge. That way you can cover all the potential shot opportunities.
- If hide sales are your goal, where legal use solid bullets that will not leave the hides with a huge hole on one side. If not, rapidly-expanding soft-point or hollow-point bullets are best.
- You have to be well hidden. Fully dressing yourself in a venerable camouflage pattern like Mathews Lost Camo is very important, as is choosing a pattern that matches the cover – a sagebrush pattern in sagebrush country, for example. It is also important you remove any “shine” from your gear. This includes gun barrels, belt buckles, and other equipment.
- Before heading off onto unfamiliar ground, always first ask the landowner where he has seen coyotes or bobcats so you know you are hunting where the animals are. If you’re on your own, remember that the animals tend to be around a primary food source, which means where lots of small prey animals like rabbits, squirrels, quail, and the like hang out. That is usually near water.
- Before setting up, the use of a locator call first can save you lots of wasted time. Standard howling techniques work for coyotes, but sometimes shock calls work, too.
- It should go without saying but bears repeating – you must watch the wind at all times. Coyotes will try and get downwind of your set-up and if they pick up your scent, it is all over.
- Where legal, the use of decoys can be very helpful. Fluttering wings, vibrating rabbits, and more are all available and work well, adding that third dimension and believability to your set up. Any calling set-up can be enhanced by something as simple as tying a couple of old turkey wings to a branch where coyotes can see it fluttering in the wind.
- Do not ignore predators that have been accustomed to man. Often the areas close to developed facilities like city dumps, golf courses, etc. are loaded with coyotes and bobcats that can be easily tricked. You will need to check laws and local ordinances to make sure you can hunt in and around these facilities and there may be special weapons restrictions, but if the door is open it can be outstanding predator hunting.
- If you’re just getting started, there is any number of really good instructional DVD’s, videos, and cassette tapes that will help you learn the basics of hunting and calling predators.
- Always share the results of your hunting with the hunting landowner, tell him what you saw and show him what you shot. You never know, it just might just open the gate for future hunting.