Coyote hunting is quickly becoming a popular pastime for hunters all across North America largely due to the sheer excitement it has to offer. There are few things that can get my adrenaline flowing faster than seeing a coyote rapidly closing on my position in response to the desperate pleas of my distress call. My goal here is to provide you with some basic strategies that can quickly get you up to speed on the basics of coyote calling, and help you experience the joy of calling coyotes. The tips and strategies I will discuss will be listed in order of importance to your success at calling coyotes.
The first and most important item that is crucial to your success at calling coyotes is scouting. It is a simple fact that you can’t call a coyote if there isn’t one there to be called. When you’re out in the field scouting look for scat and coyote tracks that will indicate coyotes are in the area. Also, take notes on where you repeatedly see coyotes, as these will be areas that you will want to target with your calling. Landowners are great resources to give you hints on where they are seeing coyotes on their land and where they feel would be good places to call. Look for areas that have a high concentration of the coyote’s prey, such as rabbits, prairie dogs, deer, and mice. If you seek out these types of areas, you’re sure to find coyotes.
Second in line for success at calling coyotes is set-up. How you set-up (position yourself) on stand to call is critical. Pay close attention to the direction of the wind at all times. The coyote’s sense of smell is highly adapted, and should not be ignored. When setting up, make sure you position yourself either with the wind directly in your face or with a crosswind. Coyotes are notorious for circling downwind to gain scent advantage, so the ideal set-up in my opinion would be with a crosswind and sufficient open area downwind to see any circling coyotes. It helps if you can hunt with a friend, and position him/her downwind to get any coyotes that circle your position. If you have one of the new remote controlled digital callers on the market, you can position the call upwind of your position and therefore be in the perfect position, as the coyote begins to circle. Just don’t position it to far away in case the coyote does decide to come directly into the position of the caller. It is also important to call with the sun at your back. This makes it more difficult for the coyote to see you, as they have to look directly into the sun when they approach. Another important aspect for setting up is to try and position yourself in the shade. By being in the shade, this will help conceal your position and make it more difficult for the coyote to see you. Now, putting all these items together would certainly be the perfect scenario, but in reality this isn’t always possible. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the position of the sun or your ability to sit in the shade in order to call a prime location. However, I never sacrifice wind direction in order to call an area. If the wind isn’t right, I wait to call that area another day.
The third item for successful coyote calling is camouflage. It is important to try and blend into your surroundings by matching your camouflage to the terrain you hunt. It is also critical to cover all exposed skin, including your face. Human skin is highly reflective and coyotes will pick up on this. Test this out for yourself by having a friend dress in full camouflage except for a face mask, and then have him conceal himself as if he were hunting. Now, step back several yards and see how easily he is to pick out. Now try the same experiment with your friend wearing a facemask. I bet you will be surprised at the difference. Another important component of camouflaging yourself is to limit movement when on stand. Coyotes have keen eyesight and will pick up on the slightest movement. If you must move, do so slow and deliberately.
Last but certainly not least, is the actual act of calling itself. Many of you may be surprised that I saved this for last. Don’t get me wrong, making the right sound is very important and you could be producing the most mournful distressed rabbit sound the coyote has ever heard, but unless you do all the above items correctly your chance of bagging it are greatly reduced. Learning how to use a mouth blown rabbit in distress call is a relatively simple task. Any of the calls on the market today are likely to work for you. If you don’t know the correct sound to make, I suggest buying one of the many videos on coyote calling that are on the market or buy a CD or cassette tape with a live rabbit in distress sound on it and practice along with it. Many beginners make the mistake of thinking they have to sound perfect in order to call a coyote. The truth of the matter is the coyote doesn’t care. As long as you sound like an animal in distress, you’re likely to get the attention of a coyote. The interesting thing about calling coyotes is that no two people sound exactly alike when using a particular call, but the sounds are all effective, and yours likely will be too. One other topic that hasn’t been mentioned is how long to call at each location. This depends on a lot of factors, but I typically stay 30 minutes on each stand, especially when calling open area. If you live in an area that is heavily wooded, you may only stay on stand 10-15 minutes because the sound won’t travel as far. When you are calling you will want to call for short intervals. For example, call for 20-30 seconds, wait 2 minutes, and repeat. Do this for the duration your on the stand.
These are the basics you will need to become a successful coyote caller. Study them closely and then get out in the field and call some coyotes. Once you do, I am sure you will be hooked for life just as I am. I wish you the best of luck.