• Coyote Hunting Basics

    Dinner again consisted of large amounts of red meat and another potato, another can of tomato soup and I am ready for bed. I can again here the coyotes singing in the not so far distance with one bunch sounding as though they are right in the middle of our cows. I can hear one cow bellow out but will see in the morning whatís happening. Iím too beat to go spotlighting right now as much as I really want to be there for them.

    Day Three:
    I over slept!!! Coyote hunting is hard work and I must have been exhausted last night. 6:30am and my feet hit the ground running this morning. I didnít even get dressed when I crawled out of the camper.

    I was wearing dark green long-johns so I slipped on my boots and coat and headed strait away for where I remember hearing one of our cows bellow out after it got dark last night. I hit the creek bottoms in hopes of keeping myself out of site as I kept peeking up over the tops hoping to get sight of a coyote. I was at almost a run when I got within shooting range of the feed bins. I could see lots of fresh tracks in the snow with the very dim light of morning. My adrenaline was pumping when I topped the knoll and plopped down prone with the Harris bipod digging deep into the snow.

    It only took a second before I saw a coyote circling the outer edges of our cattle looking for a weak animal. My heart was pounding from the fast moving before breakfast and the anger I was feeling toward these predators. I dropped the bolt on a fresh shell that I custom built for just an occasion. It sailed straight to 200 yards and hit dead center in the front shoulder.

    I quickly chambered another shell into the long action single shot Savage and crawled a few more feet to gain better vision of the rest of the herd. There were two more coyotes running hard toward the south creek and I let another one fly. The bullet hit him hard in the back of the neck and the lead coyote took a nose dive and tumbled for about 10 feet before coming to a dead stop (pun intended).

    I quickly chambered another shell into the only tool of destruction I had at the moment and set the crosshairs on the last coyoteís ears as it ran strait away from me at 375 yards, now 400 yards, now 425 yards. I started applying pressure to the trigger and the coyote disappeared from the crosshairs without the roar that I heard before the other coyotes disappeared from my scope. She made it to the creek and must have taken a running jump to get out of my site before the SSS competition trigger broke. I jumped to my feet to view the rest of the feeding area in hopes of spotting yet another coyote but all was quiet now.

    I walked through the herd checking for cows with injuries and read the tracks in the snow as they were telling me a story of a nightlong stand off between several predators and a herd of pregnant heifers. My rest and relaxation was over now. My heart was pumping vengeance through my veins. One heifer had bite marks on her tail and we will be watching her for infection the next few days.

    Pulling cacti from my knee while I walked back to my camp, I walked to the top of a tall hill to get a better overview of the landscape. I could see how several denning areas would overlook creeks and, the majority of these creeks lead into one large creek. I could see how easily coyotes could travel around without ever being noticed by the rancher. I decided to attack this large creek with everything I had available.

    Getting back to camp, I put on my cloths and got ready for a hard day of hunting. I started at the bottom of this creek where, incidentally, is where I spotted the first coyote of the weekend. The wind was blowing vertical to the creek so, I stayed on the side that would carry my scent away from the creek. I figured if the coyotes could use the creeks to travel undetected, so could I.

    I started my first set with some very aggressive coyote vocalizations. I was still frothing at the mouth over the morning incident and was letting the coyotes know I was invading their territory and WANTED them to do something about it. It only took about 5 minutes before a bouquet of pheasants busted out of the creek below me.

    Then I saw him and he hadnít seen me yet. I lowered my crosshairs dead center on the coyoteís chest as he walked strait toward me looking left and right as he approached. He looked like he was ready for a fight with his chest pumped up when he cleared the sagebrush about 25yards in front of me. I squeaked my lips just loud enough to get his attention and he looked surprised as he got his first look down a 28Ē 8 twist Shilen .224 caliber barrel.

    The trigger broke and a loud sickening sound of bone and muscle being torn off his shoulder quickly satisfied my anger. He was down and not even twitching. I quickly started making more coyote vocalizations in hopes another coyote was still coming in but nothing. He was a big male weighing close to 50lbs. I kicked him into the creek and started moving up the creek further until I found a good spot for my next set.

    The creek was very deep in this area and I knew my shots would have to be quick if they came in right in front of me. I figured I had already taken the dominant male in this area so, I decided to use a call that was less aggressive. I called and called but nothing was happening so I switched to a predator distress call.

    I was in mid call when I spotted movement to my hard right. I hadnít expected a coyote to come from that direction and it had already spotted me. I quickly tried to maneuver to the right but since I shoot right-handed, it was no use, and it jumped into the creek and out of sight. I called a little while longer with no more takers.

    I walked back to the truck and drove up the creek about a mile further. I took a quick brake and got some fluids into my system again. Hot tomato soup and a couple pop tarts sure have a way of calming the nerves. I threw a couple cans of soda in my pocket along with some trail mix and I was ready to go again.

    I started another set in an area that was broken up with junipers and the creek just below. After not getting a shot at the last coyote because I hadnít been paying attention to all the avenues of approach, I was going to be more careful on this set. Calling as convincingly as I could, I was about to change to another call when a hawk landed in the tree strait above me. I slowly looked up at it as it looked down on me. I was camoed up pretty well and I could tell the hawk was having trouble deciding if I was food or not. I sat motionless until I caught movement in front of me.

    It was a very white coyote that we get once in a while around here. They arenít albinos or anything but, they have very little brown in their fur. They are just white and gray. Taxidermists love it when I bring these white pelts in and I was excited hoping for very minimal pelt damage.

    I saw her moving from over a knoll and down into a thicket and out of site. As soon as she was out of site, I started some quiet calls to give her directions to my location. She came in none the wiser, looking left and right for the source of the sounds. I had my scope turned down to 8X and was able to watch her innocently approach. I think I like this part of calling the best. Just watching a coyote as heís coming in to his death none the wiser. Just as she got to about 40 yards, the hawk jumped out of the tree and took flight, which scared the coyote and, she stopped in her tracks watching the hawk. I seized the opportunity to take a shot while she was motionless and started calling again quickly after the shot.

    Iím beginning to see a trend with these heavy bullets. Only one pelt would have been salvageable out of all these coyotes Iíve shot so far and that was the long-range coyote. This little white coyote was dead but, the pelt was ruined so I hung her on the closest fence and started my next set about another mile up creak from this spot.

    You might notice that I generally try to move at least a mile before starting another set. I do this because, my calls will generally reach as far as a mile and I donít want to overlap my calling sets.

    My success faded off for the rest of the day until about an hour before nightfall. I moved back to an area I have been working the day before and I got a brake. I was calling and the bulls decided to come over and see what I was up to. Bulls are often times untrustworthy so I got up and moved so there was a tree between us as I continued to call. Not that bulls are generally mean but, I wasnít sure how they would react to coyote calling sounds.

    All of a sudden the bulls turned around and started facing a direction I had caught movement from also. It was a little female cautiously walking around the bulls and she hadnít seen me yet. I saw the direction she was moving and found an opening between the bulls that I could safely take a shot. As soon as she came into that opening, I squeezed the trigger and she went strait down.

    The bulls seemed to be unaffected by the noise of the shot and one even went as far as to walk up to the dead coyote and smell at it. (I thought that was cool.) It was time for red meat again.

    The night seems different tonight. I have not herd the coyotes howling and I know there are still plenty out there. The coyotes in the bordering county are still being vocal though. Iím hoping my efforts today have set them back on their heels. We will see how brave they are tomorrow.

    Day Four:
    Wind, wind, wind. A steady wind of 20mph with gusts reaching 35mph.

    I am bummed today but Iíve got to keep after those coyotes. I was in my boots by 6:00 and ready to start back into the creek I was working yesterday. I have not heard a coyote bark or howl since yesterday morning and am wondering what that means?

    Walking into the creek from the topside this time, I am familiar with a denning area that is close to the top. I get the wind in my favor and start working into a spot to start calling. The wind was cold as I walked face first into it and it stung my eyes making them water so I wasnít able to see very well.

    I stopped in a spot with large rocks protruding from the ground just below me and set up everything just as I have before. I was reaching into my pocket for my open reed call while my eyes were scanning the rocks. I could see under most of the rocks on the opposite side of the creek but couldnít see anything underneath the rocks on the side I was on.

    I wet my lips and started to call when a coyote bolted from under the rocks I was setting above. She didnít jump out and look around as I figured a coyote would but instead, just bolted. I dropped the call and grabbed the rifle trying to get steady in the wind but, I had to hold my shot since she was moving too fast and I couldnít get as steady as I wanted.

    I moved further down the creek and set up again except in a spot that I didnít have to deal with a direct assault from the wind. I called for a while but nothing. Another 2 sets and nothing came in. As I walked back to the truck, I was becoming discouraged by the wind and needed to come up with another plan. I just canít call coyotes if theyíre denned up and canít be provoked out. I headed to a prairie dog town instead.

    As I shot a few prairie dogs, thinking about my dilemma, the winds started to subside. Iím about out of gas in my truck and I need to go back to work tomorrow. I decided to put in one more set before packing up. I headed to an area that had a lot of trees to help block the remaining winds. Iím not a very good ďclose inĒ hunter but I still had to try.

    I parked my truck into a dry creek and well out of site and started walking into the thick stuff. I could still hear the wind in the trees howling above me but on the ground there was very little felt wind. If I was a coyote, I would be here I thought.

    I found a nice spot to set up and sat quietly for about 5 minutes before starting my calling sequence. I knew this would be my last set of the weekend and wanted it to go by the numbers. I especially wanted to get one last coyote before leaving. This is the time of year that coyotes are thinking about breeding and Iíve seen some evidence that its started by the pelts on the older coyotes Iíve shot so far this weekend. I started the sequence with some low-keyed coyote wines. I waited a good long time and started the wines again. Still nothing. Then I started some more wines followed by a good long lonesome howl. A few more wines directly after and, another good long lonesome howl with a few more wines. Then I put the caller in my pocket and waited.

    I knew I couldnít reproduce the quality of the calls I just made and wasnít even going to try. To my luck, a big male popped out of the trees from nowhere right in front of me about 15 yards away. My heart jumped into my throat and I almost grabbed my rifle immediately but told myself ďwaitĒ.

    I thought for sure had seen me but he looked away and stopped; confused that he didnít see a friend to play with. As soon as he turned his head I started moving my hand slowly to my rifle that was poised on my shooting sticks but not shouldered. Again he looked at me and I thought I was busted again. He was poised perfectly to get out of site within two steps and I couldnít let him see me move. My camo was serving me well and the wind was in my favor. Then I thought all was lost as he started walking away heading back into cover.

    As quick as I could, I threw the rifle to my shoulder and squeezed one off. I run the bullet into his belly and up through his vitals and it exited his front shoulder. Another pelt destroyed but; another coyote lay dead to a custom built Savage.

    My hunt was over and all the work I had done to my rifles during the summer months paid off. I didnít miss any shots that werenít caused by my own excitement or lack of good rifle support. I had taken two rifles on this hunt with me in the event that one rifle had problems or in case I slipped and broke a scope. Iíve learned that anything can happen in the field and always carry a back up rifle now. Thankfully, there were no accidents or malfunctions and was able to use only one rifle throughout the entire hunting session.

    Driving home with a smile on my face thinking back about the feeling of being able to trick coyotes into coming to their death, I started feeling the effects of carrying a heavy rifle for miles through rough country. I smiled even more because it was worth every ache and pain Iím feeling now.
    Special thanks to my cousin for allowing me to hunt in some of the best coyote country in the world. During the time I was there, he also took two coyotes from his tractor while feeding the cattle. I hope my efforts have helped him out.

    Submitted by Thad Becker

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