Coyote Hunting 101: Tips and Tactics for Beginners

Coyote Hunting Gear

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A few years ago I planned a coyote calling trip with a couple of good friends, one of which was new to hunting coyotes. We made plans for the trip and loaded up all of our gear and traveled a good distance from home for a day of calling. We arrived at the area we were going to hunt just before daylight and began getting our coyote hunting gear ready. As we were about to walk out on our first stand of the morning I noticed one of the guys was going through all of his stuff looking for something. I asked, “what are you looking for?” He replied, “the bolt to my rifle!” He was sick when he realized he wouldn’t be putting any fur down on this trip, at least with his gun.

Because of this reason, I always make it a habit to review my coyote hunting checklist before leaving home to make sure I have all of my coyote hunting gear for the trip. I have my stuff organized into five different groups. Listed below are those groups and what I have in each.

Guns

So I don’t end up like the story at the beginning of this article, I verify I have my guns and everything that goes with them.

The Call Bag

I like to have all of my coyote hunting gear compartmentalized in what I call “The Call Bag”. This originated by having all my hand calls in a small bag and it has grown from there.

  • Bullets
  • Shotgun Shells
  • Electronic Call
  • Decoy
  • Hand Calls
  • Gloves
  • Face Mask / Face Paint
  • Beanie / Snow Beanie
  • Gaiter / Snow Gaiter
  • Rangefinder
  • Camera
  • Coyote Drags
  • Chapstick
  • Battery Charger
  • Sharpie
  • GPS
  • Maps – Hunting GPS Maps

Clothes Tote

I like to store my camo in a tote for a couple of reasons. 1) It keeps it all in one place and I can just grab it and go and 2) I can throw in part of a sage brush to help keep them smelling like the desert.

  • Seat
  • Socks
  • Base Layer
  • Camo Pants / Snow Pants
  • Belt
  • Camo Shirt
  • Camo Vest
  • Snow Coat / Camo Coat
  • Hat / Snow Hat

Boot Tote

I wear two different boots during the coyote hunting season. A lighter pair for warmer weather and a heavier pair for the fridge temperatures. Sometimes you might get both on a hunt, so I wear one pair and throw the other pair in a tote to keep them dry.

Truck

This is the best part of the list… a Predator Down!

  • Coyote Tote
  • Hitch Skinner
  • Latex Gloves
  • Knife
  • Long Screwdriver
  • Tail Stripper
  • Tail Zipper

By checking my coyote hunting gear against this list each time I go out I make certain I have everything I need when in the field.

Coyote Hunting 101: Tips and Tactics for Beginners

Concealment

I’m frequently asked about the importance of camouflage. When you are calling predators concealment is very important. I say “concealment” because simply wearing camouflage is not enough. Camouflage is a must for me but there are other important factors to consider.

  • Call with the sun at your back as often as possible. This allows you to see coyotes approaching very easily as they really stand out in the sun.
  • Set up in the shadows where possible. This is much easier with the sun at your back as you can sit against a tree or a bush and be hidden in the shade.
  • Keep movement to an absolute minimum. Predators have very keen eyesight and can spot movement from long distances. You must keep very still if you want to get them close.

Late Season Stand Duration

I’m frequently asked how long I stay on stand. This changes over the course of the season and there are other factors to consider. Determining factors for stand duration include terrain, the wind, density of coyotes in an area, and time of year.

Late in the season many of the coyotes in your area may have been called and educated. It will typically take these coyotes longer to respond and they will likely approach your stand with more caution than they did earlier in the season. Also, late in the season, I use a lot of coyote vocalizations to take advantage of the coyotes mating and territorial instincts.

Younger coyotes will typically approach your stand with caution to see which other coyotes are there. Occasionally an old dominant male will charge in to clean house, but more often than not they approach more cautiously this time of year. As a general rule, I stay on stand for 30 – 40 minutes during the months of February and March.

Hide your Electronic Caller

Coyotes are very visual creatures, especially if they’ve been educated. It’s not uncommon for them to pop up on a ridge and try to locate their prey as well as their competitors before charging to the call. I’ve found that this is especially true in a very open country.

If the coyote can find a vantage point to sit and watch from he’ll often time do just that. One thing you can do in these circumstances is sure to hide your electronic caller in a wash or draw or even in a pile of thick brush. Just enough cover that perhaps that coyote couldn’t see a rabbit or another coyote without coming in for a closer look. This simple tactic will help you bring them in the rest of the way.

Late Season Calling – Pick a different setup

It’s late in the calling season and there are lots of educated predators out there. They’ve been hearing a variety of sounds for the past 4-5 months and most will have the game figured out by now. It’s this time of year that you need to do something different in order to get them to come. One thing that has helped me this time of year is to simply walk further into my stands and get right in the predators back yard. In many cases calling them from an area that is deep in their territory is all it takes to convince them it’s for real this time.

Persistence, Persistence, Persistence

This is one of the most important if not the most important trait for a predator hunter. Calling predators is a very challenging sport that can take years to figure out. I have been at this game for almost 20 years and still have days when the coyotes don’t respond and I don’t know why. Persistence is a huge part of predator hunting. This time of year can be a challenge as most coyotes have been called at least once, shot at by big game hunters, trapped, snared, shot at from planes, etc. Every predator hunter will see their success decline later in the season. Don’t let it get you down. Stick with it and be persistent and it will pay off.

Accuracy is Key for Predators

Predators are a much smaller target than deer, elk, and other popular big game species and require greater accuracy from you and your equipment. If you’ve ever seen a coyote or fox hanging on a skinning tree you realize how small they really are.

Accuracy is especially important if you plan to take predators at or past the 300-yard mark which is sometimes required on educated coyotes, in open country or on windy days. Be certain that your equipment is up to the task. It’s vital that you spend time testing your equipment for accuracy as well as practicing longer shots so you’re prepared when it’s time to head into the field.

Pick a Spot

I see many coyote hunters become frustrated when they miss coyote after coyote. Calling them in is only half the battle, killing them is the other half. One trick that I’ve learned over the years is to pick a spot on the coyote you want to hit. If you shoot at the whole coyote you’re going to miss more than you hit. Take time to pick a spot on the coyote or a spot in their fur you want to hit. Then, focus on that spot as you make a good trigger squeeze. I’ve found that this does two things.

  • It makes my shot more accurate.
  • It creates a regiment that my mind goes through every time a coyote comes to the stand which helps to keep you calm.

Get Comfortable on Stand

When you’re calling coyotes holding still and being patient are two keys, especially late in the year when you may be on the stand for more than 30 minutes. Take time to get comfortable when you sit down so you can sit for a long period of time without moving. Coyotes can pick up movement from a long distance so holding still is a must, especially if you want to get them close.

I always carry a pad to sit on so that I am comfortable on the stand. I also like to find a bush, rock or tree to rest my back against. Taking a minute at the beginning of the stand to get comfortable will make it easier to sit still and be patient and ultimately you’ll kill more predators as a result.

Mix it up

Don’t be afraid to try new things in the field. I follow a rule of thumb that goes like this. If I have called two or three stands where I KNOW there are coyotes and haven’t called a coyote I mix it up. Try a new sequence. Try a different distress sound. Stay on stand longer. If what you’re throwing at them isn’t working don’t be afraid to try something new.

Carry a Shotgun

Hunting coyotes with a shotgun opens up a whole new world of coyote hunting. It allows you to call areas that you wouldn’t even consider with your rifle such as thick brush, river bottoms, thick cedars, etc.

In many cases, these areas have not been called by other callers and the coyotes just come running. A shotgun also increases your odds to kill multiple coyotes on a single stand when they come close. Equipment is essential here. I strongly recommend Hevi-Shot Dead Coyote ammunition along with a Dead Coyote choke for a maximum effective range.

Walk away on a wrong day

I see many novice predator hunters calling stands when the elements such as the sun or the wind are wrong. You may call in a coyote when the conditions are wrong, but odds are extremely low that you’ll kill it. He will either spot you or smell you and all you’ve done is educate him. If you are going to call a stand and the conditions are wrong, walk away and come back another day when the elements are in your favor.

Practice with your field equipment

It’s great to go to the range and practice from the bench. I am a firm believer that the more rounds you shoot per year the better you’re going to be in the moment of truth. However, shooting from a bench is no replacement for field practice. If you really want to see your shooting skills improve on predators, spend time practicing from your field positions using your field equipment.

Every spring I spend time shooting gophers and prairie dogs and I do it from my field positions, typically sitting and using my shooting sticks. Rather than practicing from your sand bags, throw in your shooting sticks or bipod and practice how you’re going to hunt.

Always Carry a Mouth Call

Over the years I have learned to always carry a mouth call, even when you’re using an electronic caller. There are a couple of reasons this is a good practice.

  • Electronic callers run on batteries and you never know when they might run out of juice, especially in extremely cold temperatures like we have here in Montana.
  • I have seen many times when I’m slipping quietly into a stand and spot a coyote within several hundred yards. At times like these, I don’t want to make any more movement than absolutely necessary.

This is the perfect time to sit down quickly, setup and use your mouth call. Keep a mouth call on you at all times. You never know when it will come in handy.

Do Your Homework

Many of us have made the mistake of calling areas that “look good” without doing our homework. If you want to be more successful you need to spend time in the field scouting.

My favorite method is howling the night before calling or before daylight on the day you’re going to hunt. Howling will help you locate the coyote’s actual location. Knowing where they are will increase your odds as you select your stands. Spend more time scouting and locating coyotes and you’ll have more success.

Written by: Lync Jones. If you want to share your hunting story/article, send it to contact@myhuntingear.com

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