• Coyote Hunting Basics

    I donít know how many times Iíve been approached by a young hunter and told, ďIím a new hunter wanting to get started in hunting coyotes and, would like you to tell me how itís doneĒ. Iíve seen this question asked a million times from people on line also. People that Iím willing to bet have never shot a coyote except by chance while hunting other animals.

    Iím cool with the idea of teaching a new hunter how to get started but, ďwhere do I startĒ?

    To start with, coyote hunting is mostly learned and not taught. The best learning tool is to go out and do it. Coyotes are referred to by many as ďthe trickstersĒ and there is a reason for that. I love hunting coyotes because of the fact that they are so tricky. Every time I hunt them, they teach me something I didnít know before. If you think youíre a smart person and have learned everything you think you need to know off the computer, go out to hunt them and let them show you just how much you donít know. Coyotes are always challenging my intelligence. Thatís the reason I still hunt them.

    I took my first coyote at the age of 8 years old. I look back at that experience and cant help but to think how lucky I was. Not lucky for having the opportunity but, more so, lucky I had a coyote stupid enough to get that close to me to give me the inspiration to hunt them as I do today. Itís an addiction that I donít think I will ever loose. After I shot my first coyote, I had the fever. From there, I went a couple years before getting another chance to get close to a coyote. I quickly learned that coyote hunting wasnít a sport for the casual hunter. They are smart (real smart).

    Iíve never had someone to teach me the doís and doníts of coyote hunting. I learned everything I know about coyotes by observing them on a regular basis. Iíve learned how they think and what drives them. I use this knowledge against them. The more I learned about them just sharpened my edge to use against them. I let THEM teach me.

    The most basic of needs of the coyote is food, water, and a place to live.

    Coyotes will build several dens around the country side. They use these ďdensĒ as shelter when traveling to get closer to their food source. As the year progresses, their main food source changes. As their food source changes, they will move to new locations to remain closer to that particular food source.

    During early winter months, coyotes have a large territory they run mostly looking for small game like rabbits and mice. Coyotes can be found in some of the strangest places when they hunt these animals. The best places to look are along fence lines and next to roads. Rabbits can be found next to areas that break up the landscape.

    Later in the winter when small game is starting to become fewer and farther between, coyotes will start pairing up for mating and the chance to start taking down larger game animals. During this time of year, you will see coyotes in the higher country taking down deer and the flats taking down antelope. This time of year coyotes get really cocky. Itís a good time to use challenging tactics on them.

    In very early spring, coyotes generally have young pups they are trying to keep fed. An attractive source of food during that time of year is the placenta of newly born animals. They often times donít just take the placenta and will kill small cattle when they can.

    This is the time of year that the coyote population is at its highest meaning, lots of food is required to feed them all. This time of year gives the coyote its bad name. Just one dead calf is taking a huge bite out of a rancherís income. If I was looking for a place to hunt, this would be the best time to start talking to landowners that raise cattle and sheep.

    Mid summer months are when the coyotes are throwing their pups out of the den to fend for themselves. During this time of year coyote pups spend most of their time wandering around learning to hunt. This time of year just about any kind of a call (even those executed poorly) can offer a shot at a young coyote. Coyotes are everywhere but, the parents of the pups are always listening for their cries so they can run to their defense. Pups tend to kill a lot of mice and prairie dogs because they see them as easy targets.

    Just after deer hunting season, the coyote population will have dwindled by about a third of the years populations. Everyone that hunts deer will kill a coyote as a target of opportunity. The coyotes that are still alive have become smart and now avoid any human presence. This is the time of year that we put our deer rifles away and start hunting coyotes on a regular basis. This is also the time of year that coyotes donít show themselves unless theyíve been tricked into it.

    Young yearling coyotes donít tend to get fully prime. Shooting a young coyote for its pelt is not worth while until late winter. They still are favorable to the rancher as a dead coyote though.

    Now we get to water. A coyote MUST have water. Itís a need of any animal I can think of but, for coyotes, itís mandatory in hot weather. They can survive by eating snow in the winter. Itís in the hot summer months that we can take advantage of their need for water.

    Any stream, reservoir, and puddle becomes a life source for a K-9 type of animal. When hunting coyotes in very hot weather, hunt close to water sources. It took me a long time to learn that trick. It never dawned on me until last summer when it was 90 degrees out. A young coyote pup taught me and my success rate during that time of year has increased.

    I spent close to 3 hours one day calling in a coyote in extreme hot weather. I was watching her from 1600yds away as she would hear my call and, get up and, move a couple hundred yards then, lay back down under a sagebrush panting. I would call again and, she would get up and move a couple hundred yards more just to lie down under sagebrush again. After doing this for several hours, I finally had to put her to sleep at 350yds. K-9ís canít handle the heat so; they stay close to pools of water when itís hot.
    This is just a first of many articles in which I am going to dissect the art of coyote hunting.

    In this article, we have only touched on the direct needs of a coyote but, in future articles; we will talk about what makes a coyote respond, when to employ different methods and, what to do when a shot has presented itself. We will be going into the best types of gear to use and maybe even touch on a few calibers of choice for coyote sized game. Especially those calibers we use to save pelts. We will talk about best locations to call from and how to get into these spots without being spotted. Best times of day or night for hunting coyotes and, many other coyote hunting tricks.





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