There is little more to be said on the thrill of hunting down a predator. It’s an unearthly feeling, being able to take on a biologically honed hunter. Taking that into consideration, among the wiliest and most challenging game to kill are the coyote. These small predators are skilled hunters, as adept at stalking and killing small animals as it is in evading threats.
The coyote has long been a part of North American culture, and tradition. Tales have always depicted them as clever creatures, outsmarting larger animals, and even people. Most cultural references usually mirror some semblances of reality.
The shrewd depiction of the coyote has survived through time, even earning it a cartoon character who ironically never manages to catch his prey. In reality, the coyote is a crafty, cautious animal, making it potentially tough to hunt. But as with most challenges, being able to surmount and overcome gives a much greater sense of accomplishment.
So if ever you intend to take it upon yourself to take the challenge of hunting coyote in the wild, here are a coyote hunting tips for you.
Understand their Behavior
A key point when you’re trying to figure out how to hunt coyotes is to understand their behavior. To an uninitiated hunter, taking on a coyote can provide a lot of headaches. It’s first important to note that coyotes have a sense of smell that is 10,000 times more effective than humans. They also have excellent vision and hearing making them excellent hunters and wary of potential danger.
The behavior of these predators varies with the seasons. It is noted that they are more active at hunting during spring, summer, and fall. This makes hunting for them a much likelier possibility. Calls are more likely to work during this period as they are actively hunting. The fact that they are out hunting also diverts their attention, making them more vulnerable to a predator, namely, you.
In the winter, coyotes will be less active to compensate for the increased scarcity of food. During this period they are less likely to move around quickly, the challenge will be to find them, and to get in range because calls aren’t as effective this time of year.
It’s important to remember that coyotes are hunters as well. You will want to make sure that you take into account its arsenal of enhanced senses and its predatory instinct. You will want to be sure that you utilize decoys to their fullest extent. A well-placed decoy in front of a hungry coyote can prove to be irresistible. Couple that with a bit of luck, and a precise first shot, and that coyote’s pelt is practically yours.
As with most animals, checking their scat patterns and footprints can give you loads of help as you try to stalk them. Fresh scat can be identified by the amount of moisture. Flies around scat are a great indication of freshness. Their tracks tend to be narrower than the average dog’s.
Maximize The Environment
Most folks will take a coyote in open fields where spotting one and lining up a shot are easy. You could take that route, or you could increase your chances by hunting in thick areas. Patches of thick brush and other hard-to-reach areas often conceal rabbits, deer, and mice, all of which are regular prey of coyotes. Though pretty inconvenient, areas with thick vegetation will often hide a coyote or two, who are in search of prey.
The advantage of hunting in thick shrubbery is that it minimizes the wind. You run less of a risk of getting sniffed out because the brush will block off a portion of the wind.
Knowing the wind is also a factor. If the coyote catches your scent because the wind carried it to your prey, you are likely not going to bag that coyote. These are very cautious creatures. If it catches the scent of a potential predator, you know that it’s going to bolt, and with that go your chances.
So note the wind, and use a scent-eliminating spray before setting up your shot. Make an effort to stay downwind. It’ll help you loads in trying to hunt these critters down.
If you also notice that some folks frequent certain spots, don’t stick around there for too long. Be sure to scout several potential spots regularly. Coyotes are intelligent creatures. If they notice that hunters frequent certain locations, you can bet that they’d avoid those locations as well soon enough.
Location Location Location
The business adage also applies to hunting. The success of your hunt is largely contingent on the spots you choose and how likely your prey is to be in those areas.
Check maps beforehand, if you can get access to a topographical map of the area, you’re much better off as you can orient yourself even before you leave home. If you can, scout the night prior. This’ll allow you to get a better mental picture of the area and where coyotes are potentially located. If you have a guide, or if you managed to research the area beforehand, you’re good to go.
Watering holes are good ideas to set up a stand. As with most mammals, they will need to stop for water from time to time. And aside from the coyotes, their prey will tend to hang around these areas as well to hydrate. So chances are, you aren’t the only one prowling around watering holes.
Another good place to take your search is areas with lots of cattle. From time to time, they will try to pick off a weak member of a herd. So if you spot cattle off in a distance you may be onto your next kill.
Bring A Complete Loadout
Nature has provided your quarry with a wide arsenal to help keep it alive. Sadly, evolution has not endowed humans with the senses and physical attributes of nature’s most feared predators. However, people are adaptable and have learned to create and utilize tools to accomplish their goals. Check out our review of the best hunting gear to give you lots of choices.
To level the playing field against your prey, you will need to be properly equipped. Here are a number of things we would suggest.
Calls – mouth-operated and electronic rabbit squealers ideal. The rabbit squealer simulates prey and can prove the difference between catching the attention of a hungry coyote and spending a good 15-30 minutes with nothing to show for it. You can also use this the night prior to scout and get a feel of coyote locations.
Electronic calls are good for making your decoys much more effective. They can be used without you being right on top of them to distract coyotes from your movements. A good coyote call is an essential tool…
Water Bladder – Dehydration can come slowly or quickly depending on the situation. A bit of water while stalking your prey while under the heat of the sun will go a long way in helping your physical and mental stamina.
Aside from the various conditions that come with dehydration, lack of water can hurt your ability to maintain focus. Remember that your concentration needs to be at its prime. An opportunity to line up a shot may not last very long.
It’s used widely by military units as it allows you to drink without going through the motions of grabbing a canteen unscrewing the lid and drinking, a process that could distract you from a crucial moment. In your case, an open shot. So remember to invest in a good water bladder.
Camouflage – Nature has provided your quarry with extremely effective eyesight. This allows the coyote to effectively hunt prey and identify potential threats. To even up the odds, making yourself less visible is the way to go. You can start off with a basic camo patterned set of pants and jacket, plus a cap.
If you’re more willing to invest, you can render yourself next to invisible in the brush with many camo suits like the ghillie suit.
Shooting Sticks – Not really a mandatory item, but these are great because they allow you to line up a shot comfortably. They’re better than a mounted bipod setup because of the versatility they provide. These will allow you to prepare for a shot from a prone or seated position.
Decoy – if you use a call, you can couple it with a decoy for added effectiveness. Allowing the coyote to fix its focus on a target will help you in getting a shot in. Decoys come in various shapes and sizes. When used effectively they can bait a coyote into charging immediately leaving them open to a shot.
You can start with an old stuffed animal. Once you really get into it, you can transition to high-end decoys. Use it beside an electronic caller for maximum effectiveness.
On the flipside, using decoys will mean more gear to lug around. So that’ll give you something to think about. Plus getting spotted by a coyote while you set it up pretty much seals your fate.
We don’t really recommend you use decoys in all your hunting spots, pick areas that are open, or that provide the coyotes with tactical advantages such as a good vantage to really bring them in.
Survival Kit – Medical supplies, suture kit, water purifying tablets, high-calorie food, portable stove, lighter, are some things that you will want handy. You can stash majority of the stuff in your truck while you’re out hunting. But bringing along some essentials in your pack can be a huge benefit during a life or death situation when the inevitable happens. See our expert review of the top hunting backpacks that can help you in your hunting needs.
Consider taking lighter the lighter stuff such as MREs and meds in your pack. An energy boost during an extended hunt can be a great benefit to your chances and will be greatly helpful in the event of an emergency.
Weapon of Choice
There are few restrictions on the ideal weapon for your coyote hunt with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few options available for the coyote hunter.
Bow – Modern expertise has built on ancient technology and turned it into a much deadlier weapon. The bow was the hunting weapon of choice of Native Americans. Lately, it has experienced a renaissance and is gaining a strong following amongst hunters. To find out what features to look for in the top hunting bow, read our article on this topic.
Now, taking it to a hunt for a coyote poses a number of challenges. For one thing, you’ll have to consider range. How far can you shoot that bow? Chances are 50-70 yards can prove to be a pretty difficult shot to make with a bow. So you’ll have to be able to creep up to a coyote very well to get a clean shot. As we’ve already discussed, coyotes have highly developed senses that can be a problem
Noting the added difficulty, there are actually a few upsides to the bow. For one thing, you won’t spend as much on ammunition. Arrows are generally reusable, tips/blades can be sharpened several times before having to replace them. A generally shared sentiment among bow hunters is that the thrill and the accomplishment of the kill are much greater with the bow.
Rifle (Bolt Action) – Excellent range, and power are what you get with a good bolt-action. This is a great choice for action in wide open areas where you have yourself well positioned. The follow-up shot, should it become necessary can come pretty quickly (the determinant is how fast your hands can work your rifle). The bolt-action is extremely reliable and in the odd event that it jams, you’ll be able to fix it up relatively quickly. .223 and .300 calibers are the preferred calibers for coyote hunting
Its weakness lies in hunting in thick bush. The rifle shot probably won’t be able to penetrate brush and cleanly hit your target as well.
Rifle (Semi-Automatic) – Essentially what you have here are all the advantages of the bolt action rifle sans the reliability. ARs use air to chamber bullets and to remove spent casings, hence the rate at which they can be fired is incredibly fast. Need a follow shot? No problem. It’s as quick as being able to squeeze the trigger again. Take a look at our piece on how to choose the best coyote hunting rifle that you can use for your adventures.
This is probably one of the best weapons to take on a coyote hunt. Versatility, range, and multiple shot capability make this the favorite of many hunters.
But the ability to quickly shoot can also pose problems. The mechanism of an AR has more parts, and if one of those parts fails, you’re likely to get a jam. This is especially the case if the rifle was not maintained properly. In the event of a jammed cartridge, prying one loose is much more difficult than with a bolt action.
Shotgun – These come in automatic and pump action variants. The argument for which to use can easily be summed up in the portion of bolt action and semi-automatic rifles. Pump shotguns relatively suffer in terms of recoil and the second shot.
Automatic shotgun users have successive shots and have less recoil to compensate, however, reliability is an issue. Though modern automatic shotguns have largely cut the probability of jamming, the pump-actions simpler mechanisms still have an upper hand reliability-wise.
The shotgun, despite its shorter range relative to the rifle, has a pretty big advantage when in the thick bush. Some of the best hunting you will be doing is going to be in thick vegetation. Here, coyotes will have a stronger sense of security because of the cover. To investigate anything that piques their interest they will have to get in close. This is an advantage you should take.
Expand Your Reach
You’ll often find a coyote or two being a pain for a farmer out in the country. So to add to your chances, you can ask for the permission of land owners to hunt for coyotes within their property. Coyotes are a known nuisance, so you’ll likely get an affirmative response.
This’ll allow you to expand your hunting ground from open country to small tracks of private property owned by folks who have no love for the coyotes. Being related to dogs, they can spread a number of diseases that will hurt your dogs and potentially residents as well.
The coyotes love to hang around agricultural land and areas with smaller livestock (that they will regularly prey on), so it’s a definite win-win for you and the landowner. Be sure to ask for permission, for one thing, it’s good manners, and it’s a protection against the off-chance of a lawsuit if you start shooting without permission on someone’s property.
What to Do with Your Catch
If you aren’t planning on eating them, furs and skulls of coyotes can fetch a pretty penny when sold in auctions. Depending on the type of fox and the quality of the pelt, a skin can score you anywhere in between $7-$68. Not a bad deal at all for an animal considered by farmers as a pest.
Those are only a few facts that we’ll cover with regard to coyote hunting.