Spring Coyote Calling Deep Snow

Spring time can be a slow time of year for allot of hunters. Turkey season isn’t quite here and most other game seasons are closed. But there is a silver lining in that dark cloud hanging over us this time of year, Coyotes! In the north coyotes are paired and females are bred for the most part, but haven’t yet had their pups. Hunting coyotes this time of year can help curb deer depredation for the following winter and even the current up and coming fawn crop by taking a few of these coyotes out. Also the fur can and is still usable this time of year and can be tanned for hanging on your wall or even a hat.

The above video was filmed with the author in early March in Northern Wisconsin. It’s a long unedited clip but we wanted to show new hunters the frequency and variety of calls as well as the duration of a typical hunt.  You will see the entire call set from the time we got in place through the final shot.

For the most part this time of year coyotes have been pretty much burned out if calling is popular in your area, but there’s still a few tricks you can pull out of the hat to put a coyote on the ground or should I say snow if you had a winter like we did here in northern WI. One of the most difficult things to deal with is the deep snow thats accumulated through the winter. For one, the temps are warming and the snow gets soft and crystalized making each step you take a workout that’s rival to anything a treadmill could throw at you, but its also difficult for the coyotes to get through it as well. To combat this I like to concentrate my calling to early mornings where the previous nights cold temps freezes the snow making it easy to walk on top and in turn easier for the coyote to travel and respond as well, before the mid-morning temps start turning the snow to quicksand again.

What makes these coyotes vulnerable this time of year is the fact that even though the snow is deep, it’s going down in depth, which they depended on to slow deer down earlier in the year, but they could stay fairly on top to chase these deer down, because the snow wasn’t crystallized and slushy. So the coyotes after eating well are now getting a little growl in their belly. Even small game such as rabbits and hares are getting tough to come by due to it being easier for those critters to get around faster, plus their numbers are down just because its the cycle of nature and multiple factors of predation, die-off, hunting, etc. Most game populations are at their lowest this time of year just before the spring baby boom.

So where do you find the coyotes? Well coyotes are creatures of habit and oppurtunity, and they will still be holding close to the deer concentrations here in the north,looking for an oppurtunity to take a weakend animal or feeding off an old kill even if it is just bones. They’ll also hang on the rivers that are still frozen with water starting to open because deer will be there as well. The deer are browsing these areas for plants just starting to pop under water and buds on tags etc that are starting to plump. Everything out there in the wild has a cycle and knowing whats going on out there will put you where you need to be.

When I call this time of year I like to just hit the howler once or twice, then wait about 10 min. Coyotes this time of year are now paired like I mentioned, but also have staked their claim to a piece of ground and usually wont tolerate another on their turf. If I dont get a response off the howl, I’ll switch into a few deer distress bawls to sweeten the pot or a short series of bunny cries, then silent for a few minutes. Still if no takers I pull out my little trick that has worked beautiful this time of year and works on that territorial instinct just a tad more. I scream a short YIPE! Then go right into the distress I was using for just a few seconds, then stop.

I’ve had coyotes pop out just like that on that combo that were reluctant to show because of being burned out and call shy to the usual sounds they’ve been accustom to thru the winter. I like using an open reed call thats easy to blow for the combo, because you can switch from yip to distress without missing a beat. I believe it gives the impression the coyote just suffered a kick or bite and the the instant distress is from the instant retaliation the prey just recieved. I’ve been playing with that combo the last few years and have had excellent results from it in tough calling conditions like late season. And when you get that coyote coming in and your zeroed in on him/her and ready to shoot, BARK! if it’s running in or moving. The coyote will come to a stop increasing your odds of a well placed shot that connects and puts it to the ground. So if you want to kill the late winter blues and spring turkey fever, go harass a few yotes, it”ll brighten your day

Types of Coyote Mouth Calls

Coyote Mouth Calls

For the beginner just getting into predator calling one of the biggest questions is what calls do I use. Well outside of the electronic calls where there is myriad amount of sounds out there for them these days. And for the beginner it’s an easy thing to use and get started calling, but for some it’s quite an expense and sometimes hard to justify. So hand calls are the answer. For me, I prefer hand calls, there easy to carry and I’m not so worried that they’ll be damaged and they always work, no dead batteries or broken switches etc. Things happen, I’m not knocking E-callers, I just prefer hand calls just like someone prefers a 22-250 vs. the .223 etc.

So, I’m going to concentrate on hand calls here. Basically there are two types, the open-reed and the closed-reed. So which call is right for you? Well for beginners the closed reed is the easiest to learn and generally generic in sound, but very effective, especially in the early fall when the young and dumb are out and about.

First the closed reeds. Closed reeds are a call with an enclosed metal reed inside the mouth piece of the call. Depending on the reed, some are loud long range or intermediate and some are real quiet high pitched used generally in squeakers for close range calling. The way to blow a closed reed is simply blow into it, at first a steady blow sounds like a New Years party horn. By breaking up and shortening the amount of air you blow through the call intermittently you create a cadence that imitates an animal in distress. It’ll sound similar to a baby wailing. The shorter each wah wah the more realistic you’ll sound just for the fact a rabbit doesn’t have as much air in it’s lungs like us, if you go a little longer and raspy you’ll mimic a fawn. Cupping your hand over the barrel of the call and moving your hand you can vary the pitch, sounding muffled with your head being buried in the snow and louder more clear when you come up for air. It’s all about sounding like you’re a critter having the stuffing ripped out of you. The closed reed is probably the easiest calls to learn. You can find places on the web that have sounds you can listen to and all you do is practice till you sound somewhat like your hearing. It’s really that simple. The squeakers are basically a closed reed call that just squeak like those found in dog toys, and those work too. Squeakers are for close up work, say you have a coyote coming and he hangs up at say 200 yds or behind some brush.. All you do is just squeeze the squeaker a couple times and usually it’ll get that coyote to move and sometimes more than just move but come flying in. What kind of call to buy. My favorites are ones by EJ Sceery, or Circe made by Lohman I believe, there dependable and work well as do the ones by Johnny Stewart. There are many call makers out there commercially and custom call makers and most, but not all, get their reeds from the same manufacturer. I know this because I have taken many apart and all that I’ve found had the same name stamped on the metal reeds them self. Type of material used in making the call, like wood , arcrylics, rubber etc. is what helps each call have it’s distinguished sound and how the barrel channel is belled out.

Now we have the open-reed calls and on my list of calls my favorite. Open reed calls basically have an external reed you manipulate with your lips, teeth, tongue while you blow through the call. You can vary the pitch, the sound and even switch from distress to a howl without pulling the call from your mouth. On the open reeds the reed is held into place with things like cork, rubber or plastic and/or a heavy rubber band. The band is actually a castrating band you would use on calves or pigs and can find extra bands at farm supply stores and there relatively cheap by the 100. When you blow an open reed you basically bite or press with your lip down on the reed blowing at the same time. The closer to the barrel you bite the deeper and raspier it will sound, the closer to the end of the reed the higher the pitch. With these calls you can make animal distress sounds, puppy whines, howls, barks, kiyi’s (sounds like a dog that got hit by a car) and even squeaks. It takes more practice to learn these calls but it doesn’t take long. It does take more air to blow these calls especially when making howls. A simple howl on this type of call is you basically get a good lung full of air and put slight pressure on the reed close to the barrel with your lips or teeth and blow hard and once you start you basically slide the call slowly out of your mouth while keeping pressure on the reed to make a high pitched end to the howl. The faster you pull the call out the shorter the howl. With a little practice on an open reed you’ll be able to do a wide range of sounds with just one call, thus making the open reed a more versatile call. Some of my favorite open reed calls are Thompson’s Red Desert howler mouthpiece, the Tally=Ho, Critter Call and Johnny Stewart open reed call. One of the little tips on using either the open reed or closed reed is practice, practice, practice. Once you got it down and using it in the field the other tid-bit is once you have a coyote coming in good, stop calling. That way don’t give away your position. If the coyote stops out of range, just make a few more sounds that you got him to come in on, but make it short, you just want his attention to get him moving toward you again. If he’s coming in and he’s close enough to shoot, you want to make sure he is stopped before you shoot. You don’t want to get this far and miss. If he isn’t stopped and you want to shoot, just bark at him in your own voice, it’ll make him stop long enough to get a shot off. Hopefully this will help you decide which calls you want to try and give you an idea on how there used. Below is a pic of the two types of calls.