When it comes to hunting, one of the first things that comes up is scent… what types of scent to use and how to control your own scent. Many products are out on the market today and with so many choices it makes your head spin wondering which one is THEE one. Well, when it comes to coyote hunting this is what has worked for me.
Being a trapper for most of my life has helped me get a little insight as to what a coyote will and will not tolerate. When it comes to trapping coyotes, there is absolutely no way you can eliminate human scent at a trap set, the coyote will always know that you were there. The key is finding ways to reduce human odor to a tolerable level and when it comes to calling coyotes we want to manipulate our odor so that it is undetectable to his ever busy nose. It’s what he makes his living on, whether he succeeds or perishes is dependant on his sniffer.
So as a caller what can you do? I’ve made it a practice in my everyday life to stay as scent free as possible as if I were going hunting. I’ve picked guys up to go calling, the minute they step in the truck they smell like speed stick or old spice. Immediately it tells me one of the reasons they have minimal success calling. There are deodorants on the market today aimed at the hunting community that are scent free or woodland smelling, etc. But I’ve found that a name brand unscented deodorant works just as good and about 2 bucks a pop cheaper. Most name brand unscented deodorants contain the same ingredients that the hunting ones do and work just as well. For showering you can use the many hunting soaps and shampoos out on the market as well. They are scent free and work well. The problem with regular shampoos and soaps is most leave behind a heavy odor behind like some kind of fruit which I’m sure would work for hunting rabbits, but for coyotes you want something that smells like a rabbit or meat. Since there are no soaps out there that carry that line of fragrance, your best bet is to go scent free. I have used just plain Ivory bar soap. It rinses clean and doesn’t leave behind a heavy residual perfume odor. I’ve also used it to wash my hair. For laundry soaps, many manufacturers carry dye free and perfume free detergents which I’ve used with good results. Try to avoid the ones with strong UV brighteners, they’ll make your camo stand out. So I’ll usually stick with the many that are designed for hunting clothes. My favorite one is Sport Wash. It’s scent free, contains no UV brighteners, it cleans well, and destroys odors. So the bottom line here is keep your scent to a minimum. You’re not going out on a date with your soul mate. You’re out there to kill a coyote.
Now that we have the human aspect covered to a degree, lets switch to what you might do to fool a coyote’s nose. Well, you may not fool his nose, but you can confuse him and make him hesitate long enough to trade his hide for that fictional bunny. I don’t use cover scents on myself. I really don’t see a need to since your playing the wind anyway. But what I have done is used coyote or fox urine dispensed out of a spray bottle on bushes or brush on my downwind side. If a coyote does come in downwind, the urine odor will hit his nose before your scent does. It may only be by a few seconds, but sometimes those few seconds will buy you that shot to put an end to ol’ wiley’s bad habits. Another type of scent that can work wonders is what we call in the trapping circle a “Call Lure.” They are designed to draw a coyote to the set from a distance using the wind. In the calling scenario it’s not necessarily used to draw in a coyote as it is to get his curiosity up and confuse him a bit which allows for a shot by to covering your scent briefly. A coyote’s nose is an intricate sensitive piece of equipment and it can sort out different odors, but what we are trying to do is buy time while he sorts those odors out and that’s why you need to minimize your own scent when using these lures because his nose will be doing double time and he will pick up your scent eventually. These call lures contain one ingredient mixed with other ingredients to concoct an appealing scent to a canine. That ingredient is skunk essence, pure quill skunk essence from the scent gland of the skunk. This essence has properties that help carry the other ingredients in a lure to reach out and touch someone. Stay away from the ones you see in hunting or sporting goods stores that say skunk cover up scent. They are watered down and weak compared to what the trapper supply houses carry. It’s like comparing white lightening to beer. A little goes along way. Just don’t spill it in your truck. You can also mix this skunk essence in with the coyote or fox urine to make it easier to dispense and hopefully keep your hands clean so your significant other doesn’t file a restraining order. I’ll use the skunk in the same way as I would the canine urine and put it downwind about thirty yards or so. It wont cover your scent completely, but will buy you time.
Lets take this scent dilemma and put it to use in conjunction with decoys. The use of a decoy can be beneficial especially when you get into the later part of winter when most coyotes are either educated or dead. I look at decoys as a change up, something to confuse the coyote or to draw him out just enough to see the light at the end of the barrel. Using a coyote replica as a decoy coupled with some coyote urine can give the impression there actually is a coyote out there stealing rabbits out of his domain. And if your dealing with a call shy coyote, the combination of the two can confuse him enough to want to get a closer look or at least get him to move around in the brush he’s hiding in. You see, a coyote’s mind is a terrible thing to waste. Especially if you have the opportunity to mess with it. Curiosity not only killed the cat, it’s also been the downfall of many coyotes. The other thing a decoy can do in this situation is to fix the eyes of the coyote. This gives him tunnel vision and gives you the opportunity to get a good shooting position without being detected. I had a few instances that this scenario played out well in stands I have killed coyotes previously days prior. Giving them a visual keeps them fixated instead of looking and searching the area for what is producing those delicious sounds. Especially if they witnessed the assassination of a fellow comrade.
With that being said, there‘s another variable here that can both hinder and help the caller. That is temperature and humidity. With warmer temps you’ll tend to sweat more but it also allows your scent to be more widespread and how far it goes depends on the humidity. The drier the air the sooner your scent will dissipate. Scent needs moisture to help it spread. Just take note how things tend to smell more fragrant after a rain. With colder temps and dry air your scent is less likely to travel as far and depending on where you’re hunting the morning warmth can help take your scent up and out with the rising thermals. I learned that years ago bow hunting deer in the oak ridges where I live. Anyway, in the winter your scent is less likely to travel, unless you get a warm front come through. Warm fronts often elevate humidity and in turn magnifies your scent. I hope this article will help you pull things together when your out there trying to get Ol’ Wiley to give up his hide. All things work together, wind, scent, temps, humidity, and decoys. To put it all in your plan of action when choosing and making a stand will increase your chances at success and the frequency of those successes. Good Luck hunting!