By Beau Tallent
Coyote hunting is all the rage of late, rising in popularity about as quickly as frustrations mount from hunters who are watching deer populations decline.
The love affair with predators, particularly by growing numbers of sportsmen, seems to have come full circle and is waning. Even hunters who feel a kindred connection with the wild killers are realizing that predators, coyotes in particular, are impacting wildlife populations in many parts of the country.
Some deer herds have been hit hard. There’s still debate on the causes for declining deer numbers. But something—or a combination of somethings—is impacting deer, and coyotes are wearing a great, big bulls-eye of late.
In the early 20th Century, predator control was a central part of wildlife management as game populations were brought back from the brink. Shoot-on-site was the general rule, a carry-over mentality really from the pioneer days in this country. By the late 1980s and early 90s, a shift had occurred with more people, including hunters, who began to see predators in a different light. An era began of not just tolerance, but fascination. Wildlife agencies even reintroduced predators like wolves and big cats into areas where they had been eliminated.
No one had to reintroduce coyotes; they’ve spread like fire ants on a Florida cattle farm. Researchers are finding that coyotes prey on whitetail fawns, and in some studies the impacts on deer have been dramatic. You don’t need a high-dollar research project to convince some hunters of that. I routinely get calls from landowners who want me to come hunt coyotes on their property, or to at least give them some tips on how to hunt coyotes themselves.
Here’s what I tell them… my keys to killing coyotes.
Don’t Be Lazy
I have a friend whose idea of hunting coyotes is riding around his farm in a Bad Boy Buggy with a .223 in his lap. Coyotes are sharp; make no mistake. It takes more effort than my buddy puts in to be successful shooting one. I recommend parking well away from where you plan to set-up to call and place your decoy. Most coyotes circle to play the wind, so you can’t have your truck just over the rise in a field and expect a coyote to coming charging in from the front every time.
A coyote depends on its keen sense of smell. Ol’ Wiley Coyote is going to come in with the wind in his face almost 100 percent of the time.
Jeff Scurry is a well-known predator hunter who puts on the World Predator & Wild Hog Expo in Waco, Texas.
“You must always play the wind,” Scurry said. “That makes stand location important. I like to use barriers, things like fences, fallen trees, even hillsides to force the coyote around me. I want a setup that brings the animal in front of me when they come out searching for the distressed animal or call. The more open the area is, the better, so you can spot the coyote before he realizes something is up or catches any scent.”
If I can’t set up with the wind directly in my face, I like a quartering or crosswind blowing from my right to left. That way if a coyote tries to circle downwind, as a right-handed shooter I can swing my rifle smoothly on an animal moving to my left.
Scurry said good camo and picking a good spot to call from is important.
“You must be covered from head to toe, and if possible use brush behind you to break up your outline and to mask any movement,” he said.
Tools Of The Trade
If you’re going to be successful hunting coyotes, you have to call them, and I definitely recommend using a good decoy.
Scurry concurs. He uses a combination of mouth calls with an electronic caller. An electronic caller is a big advantage to the coyote hunter, allowing you to remain motionless and activate a remote speaker with a wide palette of hair-raising sounds and screams that a coyote finds irresistible.
“My favorite call, the one I use most of the time, is Rabbit Distress. I like either the Cottontail or Jack Rabbit Distress calls for coyotes. If I’m hunting during fawning time for deer in my area, I will do Fawn Distress calls, but I still mix it up with some type of Rabbit Distress,” Scurry said.
“My favorite caller is FOXPRO Fury. It’s by far the best I have tested, and I use it on every hunt,” Scurry said.
A decoy, while not absolutely necessary, will increase your odds of actually getting a good shot at any coyote you call in. You want the coyote’s attention focused on something other than you, and a decoy does the trick.
“My favorite decoy is the MOJO Critter,” Scurry said. “It’s light, very portable and will bring in every predator species from coyote, bobcat and fox. During fawning and up until early fall, I use the Montana Decoy Fawn Decoy.”
My last tip for putting the crosshairs on a coyote—and potentially helping your deer and other wildlife by removing a very effective predator—is to have confidence. You must believe that every single time you set up to call, a coyote is coming. Be patient, but don’t stay more than 30 minutes. If a coyote doesn’t come to your calls in that amount of time, move on to a new location and try again.
As with any hunting or shooting, be 100 percent sure of your target and what’s behind it. Also, be sure to check your local hunting regulations.
Finally, have fun—coyote control is a challenge, but it’s a blast.
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