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

motion decoys for coyote

Using Motion Decoys For Coyote Hunting

Motion decoys have been a staple of duck hunting for quite a while now. There are mojos, lucky ducks, and quiver pucks. With the rising popularity of coyote hunting, motion decoys are being used more and more. Unlike duck hunting motion decoys, predator motion decoys are not mimicking coyotes. They are meant to look like prey. Add a dying rabbit call to a motion decoy and you’ve got a deadly combination. The video gives you an idea of what they look like and how they work. There are several companies making motion decoys for predators. This is the Hare Ball Screamer from Edge by Expedite. They make a wide variety of motion decoys sure to fit your budget and your needs

The decoy gives approaching coyotes something to look at while stalking what they think is their next meal. If you are using only a call, when the coyote comes into view he is looking for the source of the call. If he doesn’t spot anything that looks like a potential meal, he’s going to keep visually scanning the area and could spot you, the hunter. The decoy gives the coyote a focus point and allows you to get set for taking the shot.

I like to set the decoy along a ridge or in a valley upwind from where I plan to sit. If you place the decoy at the top of a hill, you won’t see the coyote until he is right on top of the decoy. Of course, ridgeline shots are also unsafe, especially with a speedy predator gun. If you’re hunting flat land, put the decoy up wind from you in an open area that is easy to see. Many models have remote controls which allow you to operate the decoy only when needed. While this is a great feature, I recommend using motion as much as possible until the coyote is spotted. I guarantee the coyote will see your decoy before you see the coyote. Keeping the ‘yote focused on the decoy and not on looking for potential danger is the intent.

Young and hungry coyotes will often run right into a motion decoy without hesitation. In fact, sometimes you have to whistle at them to get them to stop for a good shot opportunity. But just like any other game species, there are some individuals who are a little bit wiser than others. This is where the remote feature really comes in handy. Once you know the coyote is locked on to the decoy but he’s hanging up, turn the motion off for short bursts of ten to twenty seconds. For some reason, this really gets their curiosity going. I guess it’s kind of like teasing a dog by hiding it’s toy.

Another good tip is to treat your motion decoy like a piece of your clothing. Scent is a big element of coyote hunting. They are smart animals and will often circle before coming in to the decoy. Place your decoy outside for a few days to air the human scents out of it before hunting. Obviously, put it somewhere it won’t get rained on but gets plenty of wind. After a few days, place the decoy in a plastic container with your hunting clothes.

Motion decoys are not miracle workers. If a coyote never sees the decoy it does you no good,. Calling is still necessary. You still have to hunt downwind & stay concealed. If you are in an area without a huntable coyote population, these decoys are not going to make a coyote materialize. However, they can help close the distance between a successful hunt and a “maybe next time” experience.