Coyote Hunting Techniques

There are two main techniques for coyote hunting. The first and most popular is “sitting and calling.” In Wisconsin at least, this is mainly done on a moonlit night in the winter, with good snow cover. Set up along a field edge, in a portable ground blind or with your back up against a tree. Try to locate behind some brush. Coyotes have excellent eyesight and hearing. You must be concealed, and if you’re not, at least try to have on some camo clothing, which will help you blend in to your background. Set up in an area where you know from tracking or other hunters, coyotes are around. Then you start “calling.” Depending on your state regs, you can either use a mouth call or an electronic call with digital tapes or CD’s that have prerecorded calls set up in calling sequences.

Whatever call you use, do it sequentially. That means you call for about two to three minutes, then stop, and wait five minutes, then you run the sequence again, and wait five minutes. Do this for a half hour. If there’s no response, move a MINIMUM of a mile from the area you were in, and repeat the process. The reason for the “mile or more move,” is that with their great hearing you want to completely abandon the area which was unsuccessful, since any coyotes in that area will probably be able to hear you if your “new area” is still in the same sound range a the one you left. The one mistake almost all coyote hunters make? Calling too often, and too quickly. Be patient! Wait! If the coyotes are in your area, they will generally come in, and will spook quickly if they sense that the calls are not “natural” or in the normal sequence that they know and recognize.

In addition to calling, where legal, some hunters use a decoy. It may be an electronic decoy that simulates a dying animal and moves around, or something as simple as a tuft of rabbit fur on a whip rod, which swings back and forth. A decoy will draw the attention of a coyote to it, rather than to you. Some decoys have visual calls – a dying rabbit or mouse- – or something with sounds. The choices are enormous, and frankly, the costs for some of these electronic decoys can be enormous as well. If you’re like most of us, and don’t have a lot of bucks to throw around, keep it simple. Try a simple decoy as was described, and a simple mouth call, and you’ll be fine – -maybe not quite as “fast” in producing as the more sophisticated stuff, but still successful.

The second technique is the use of dogs when coyote hunting. This technique is usually for the very avid coyote hunter. They use specially bred and trained radio collared dogs. Guide Phil Schweik says a breed that is called “black and tan” have long legs, short, slick fur, and are very good at moving through underbrush and rugged terrain, and have the stamina and staying power of coyotes. Coyotes will run or lope for long periods of time and for great distances. The dogs have to be able to do the same. I’ll be “short and sweet,” when I tell you that using this method takes “beaucoup bucks” in your wallet.

A radio finder keeps track of the dogs, or there may be walkie-talkies between hunters in a group. The dogs always track in groups. Why? Because coyotes love to chomp down on dogs as a food source (just ask anyone in the San Fernando Valley area of L.A., where the family pet dog is a favorite lunch of marauding coyotes – -and that’s only ONE example that I personally know of). A coyote may be willing to attack ONE DOG, but in a group of three, four or more, they won’t do it.

The hunters – -usually in some type of motor vehicle – outflank the dogs, when they hear them barking and the like, and then “cut them off at the pass”, shooting the coyotes as they cross in front of them. It really works well, but for some “purists” it really doesn’t qualify as a “hunt.” That is a comment I’ve heard – maybe just because those who object to the use of dogs, don’t have the wherewithal to afford it. I don’t know. I’m not making any judgment at all. Just passing on the facts of what I’ve heard.

There is one problem in using dogs and motor vehicles. Coyotes go where the “hey” they darn well please- -public land- – private land – – urban settings- – the coyote doesn’t care. It just wants to escape. It can get very sticky for hunters following their dogs and coyotes over private land, or indeed through nearly inaccessible terrain. You’ve got to be real careful where you go. Having said that, guide Phil Schweik says at least in Wisconsin it is not normally a huge problem, because there’s so much public land available. In addition, most private landowners, especially farmers don’t mind coyote hunters on their property – -indeed they welcome them. Best suggestion is not to take any chances. Check out your hunting area before you go out, and make sure you’ve got permission if you’re going to be crossing or on private land.

I’ve said in many other articles and will repeat again, that almost all hunters are good and decent people – -as are most private landowners- – ESPECIALLY farmers. Be courteous. Check things out. Ask permission. You’ll do fine.

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