One of the fastest growing shooting sports around is coyote hunting. Its popularity is growing by leaps and bounds. Why a number of folks are jumping on the bandwagon depends on each person’s wishes, or urges, if you will. Some are looking for another challenge. Others hear about the sport and decide to give it a try for chuckles, or something else to fill in the time between other game seasons. Whatever the reason they start, this new group of hunters is having some fun learning something new and a few are getting hooked.
They all start out trying to find everything they can about the sport. That is why you are here reading this article now. Chet, James, and Keekee (Brent ) have already submitted some very good articles for you. Rich asked me for an article sometime back and I just couldn’t decide on one from the many choices he gave me. A recent conversation with him brought up the fact of pressured animals, something that each of you is going to run into from time to time while pursuing coyotes. I will try to cover all the bases of what may happen during the course of your winter.
You’ve done all your home work by scouting your area and locating a few groups to hunt. You’re excited about the upcoming prospects for fall and can’t wait for the fur to prime or deer season to end so you can get at it. Deer gun season is over and small game season begins and you are out there giving it a try. But all of a sudden you cannot get answers to your locating howls, or seem to find those coyotes you watched all fall while in pursuit of deer or other game. They have disappeared! Where did they go what happened to them?
They are still there or a good number of them anyway. They have just succumbed to the orange brigade that attacks the woods each fall. This can change where they bed and even change group dynamics. One or more of the alpha pair may have been killed by deer hunters which will throw the territory up for grabs by other coyotes. The pups that remain are not likely to be too vocal when they might get their buts whipped by outsiders. Dispersal has not started yet but this may be the catalyst that begins the migration of the young of year pups. As a general rule this gathers the members of the group remaining into a smaller area, one where they are more secure. It makes it harder to find the sign since they don’t move around as much as they did while the others were leading the way. You can still call these animals to you, but you will have to scout the area again. What you are looking for is the most remote area in that groups territory. Because they are spending a great deal of time in this smaller part of the territory sign will be very abundant in a small section of it. They will still be very easy to call just much harder to locate. Get out your maps or notes and look for those hard to access areas. In winter a south facing slope and heavy cover are where they will be. This will help you narrow your search considerably.
As the season progresses and food shortages begin they move about more like they did before the onslaught of other hunters. But they are also subject to other coyote hunters. You are not always the only one who has access to the many groups of coyotes in your neighborhood. Other beginners and experienced callers are out there doing their thing as well. They make mistakes in many different ways. By calling excessively or by setting up wrong and getting busted by the coyotes they are after. Coyotes can and do become call shy from these mistakes. Making mistakes is part of this game. We all do it, even experienced callers like me.
Most beginners use e-callers and set up incorrectly allowing the coyote to get wind and sniff them out. They learn the difference between real and electronic sound. Mainly the bunny blues and bird distress is what the beginner uses. We can combat this problem by using other sounds or types of calls such as mouth calls. With an e-caller we go to the canine distress sounds such as fox or canine pups. By using the canine sounds we are hitting that territorial nerve in the coyote and they may act on it in an aggressive manner. Be prepared to whistle or bark to stop them for the shot if you can. In using mouth calls we can still use rabbit and bird distress but it sounds much more realistic, and you can vary the sequence of the series of calls. Short burst’s of sound with and odd waiting period between them is what works so well. You can make a series of notes then wait for forty seconds to up to two minutes between calls. This is not what most e-callers do. The sounds are varied instead of repetitious in a constant rhythm. I have used these tactics with a great deal of success over the years.
Another way to combat pressure of other callers is by using the howler as part of your calling sequence. It gives the coyote the idea that another member of the group has found something or wants company; perhaps even give them the idea there is an intruder to the territory. By using a howl or two to open or close a stand you are reassuring the animals that this is another coyote. Open a set up with one or two lone howls, wait a while and then go into a series of distress sounds. Does your normal stand time and move on to the next setup. If you use it to close a setup wait at least ten minutes before moving on. Wait in silence and be watchful of the area. A word of caution with using this technique, do not over do it! One or two howls are all that is needed. If it is possible for a coyote to do so, they will come in from the down wind side of the setup. It wants to know who is there, be it friend or foe. Be sure of your setup and cover all approaches possible if you can, or at least try to limit the approaches to the setup with the cover available. Give a coyote a safe approach from up wind and it will be likely to use it.
Hopefully I have given you some ideas on how to combat some of the problems you may face. Get out there and have one heck of a good time. Be sure you follow the game laws of your state and try to help others in the sport when you can.
Good calling, Jimmie Viniard