Coyote Hunting: Who’s the Predator Now?
Many years ago, during deer season, my eyes opened to a new goal, coyote hunting. At the base of a large, gnarly oak tree, among branches and dry leaves I sat hidden in my make shift blind. While scanning the woods for deer, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. To my surprise, a red fox trotted past along the well travelled trail I was monitoring. Mesmerized by the color of its bright red coat, I was caught off guard when soon after the fox disappeared, a coyote stalked past nose to the ground, following its trail. Knowing that the number of fox in my area was dwindling and not seeing any turkey that year, right then and there I decided the coyote (or “yotes” as many people call them) was a predator I wanted to hunt.
As always, I started researching long before venturing into the woods. Although not native to Ohio, coyote sightings were first observed in 1919 and are now found in all 88 counties. When I contacted Stanley D. Gehrt, an Associate Professor and Wildlife Specialist at The Ohio State University about the number of coyotes in Ohio he replied, “I’m not aware of any population numbers for Ohio, but most indications are that the coyote population is thriving.” I also found Gehrt quoted in a column by D’Arcy Egan, a now retired outdoor writer of 32 years for The Plain Dealer, “…..red fox and grey fox have significantly declined. Coyotes have an incredible instinct to remove competitors, such as fox, from their territory.” The fox decline was also confirmed by my local trapper friend Rex Demeczyk. And did you know coyote are the primary predators of deer fawns? Since deer prefer to leave the herd when giving birth, there is little a doe can do when a coyote attacks her newborn.
Coyotes are omnivores and hardy, adaptable predators. Each year, a female has a litter of two to twelve pups around April that are considered fully grown within one year. Coyotes begin feeding on the large game within an area. Once the large game is either pushed out, or exhausted, they then seek out the smaller game. If the population of coyotes continues to grow and the availability of food diminishes, they will widen their territory. This is when you begin seeing coyote in neighborhoods, and farms where people are nearby. In one evening, a coyote may roam about 20 miles.
The most import detail of coyote hunting is to understand that unlike deer hunting, where you sit and wait, coyote hunting involves using calls to bring them in.
- the first and last two hours of the day
- all day if it’s really cold
- more luck at night when coyotes are more secure
Where – Paths of least resistance
- field edges
- logging roads
- stream bottoms
Scents- especially spray the bottom of your boots before walking into the woods
- cover scents and blockers get rid of your human scent and cause confusion
- attractants scents like rabbit, deer or fox urine
- electronic, mouth or kiss the back of hand
- May-Nov use the pup distress call
- place electronic call 25-30 yards ahead of you
- blend into your surroundings depending on where you are hunting
- cover your face with makeup or a mask
Decoys – Give the predator a visual so you can maneuver for the shot
- feather tied with fishing line to a tree
- remote decoy
- plastic or full body forms
Finding you spot
- chose a higher vantage point
- keep the sun at your back, sit in the shade
- have something behind you to break up your outline
- sit downwind, the coyote will circle and approach with the wind
Calling in a coyote
- Start with a coaxer sound at low volume for 3-5 minutes, wait a few minutes after.
- Proceed for 5 minutes with selected prey or distress sound at low volume. Wait and watch.
- Call at moderate volume for 5 minutes, then call at loudest volume for 5 minutes. Wait, watch and be still.
- Use 1-3 howls and wait 5 minutes.
- To seal the deal when coyote is working in close, use low volume to bring him in.
According to my state’s hunting and trapping regulations, there is no closed season and no bag limit on coyote. Returning to the spot where I saw my first coyote was where I would begin the first hunt. Upon arrival, I doused myself with Tink’s B-Tech™ Odor Eliminator. Tink’s has a no pump spray that I find easier to cover myself, even when holding the can upside down. I also sprayed my Tink’s rabbit urine Hot Shot Predator Mist on the bottom of my boots. Gathering my gear, I headed into the woods. With the direction of the wind in mind, I searched for a spot on a hill, with the sun at my back, looking over the path where I previously spotted a coyote. Now settled in, I waited a bit for the woods to settle then began calling using The Mini Phantom digital call, by Predator Quest. An electronic call was the way I choose to begin my first predator hunting endeavor, since my mouth call technique left something to be desired.
After going through the series of calls for about 30 minutes, I made the mistake of moving. DUMB! Once in my new position, after only 10 more minutes of calling, I caught movement out of the corner of my right eye. Unsure of what I saw, I continued to call, attempted to calm my beating heart, and waited. There, I saw it again, right in the path I had previously been watching. UGHHH! Carefully I turned, trying to set my rifle in the best direction. Scanning the area where the sighting was, my heart sank as I watched the coyote run, tail down.
Was I disappointed in my first coyote hunt? Heck no! Not only did I watch four deer moving through my usual hunting spot, but I jumped one on the way out. Also, I called in my first coyote! Are there things I would do different? Sure. Getting a decoy is one of the first items on my list, but I will need to do some research. Also, I need to learn patience, it’s all a waiting game.
For my second season of coyote hunting I felt much better prepared. The new hunting area I found had both woods, overgrown fields and farms. Also, there were many signs of coyote activity. More than once I ventured upon some coyote scat (poop). How do I know it was from a coyote? Not only was it full of berries, but there was also bits of bone, some fur and feathers in the mix. Another sure sign of coyotes were the bone piles. The leftovers of a well devoured deer and birds with a few feathers nearby and the lone jaw bone along the trail.
I also purchased a few more tools to help improve my chances of calling in a coyote. A wireless call made more sense to me, so I used the iHunt Ultimate Game Call. Placing the speaker up to fifty yards away would create plenty of separation. It’s also water resistant and has a kickstand to keep it off the ground or hang it in a tree. With the iHunt app downloaded from the internet I had a playlist of over 750 calls from 59 species available on my smart phone. My other new tool was a decoy. It’s a rabbit that wobbles and twitches on a base that sticks into the ground. And finally, camouflage face paint. Not only is it easy to apply, but it also broadens my field of view and is less cumbersome.
Since I hunt during the daytime, I have to be very careful of my movement. The coyote like to sneak up on their prey, checking it out and determining what it is they are hearing or smelling. If they catch any of my movement they will be long gone before I have a chance to shoot. Also, I learned what to watch for while sitting. Coyote like cover. They will move among grasses and tree lines.
For this hunt, I settled myself inside a patch of bushes and tall weeds, overlooking a field of tall grasses. It didn’t take long for the cries from my caller to bring in a curios coyote. My attention was drawn to a particular area a rustling sound was coming from. Searching the grasses for triangle shaped ears, I was quite surprised when the coyote stepped right out into the path.
Quickly I took my shot, there would be one less coyote on this farm!