Story and Photos by : Colby Lankford – CCS Outdoor
Coyote hunting is something that’s commonly mistaken as an easy task, but it’s only as easy as you want it to be.
Many hunters want to try it, and that’s usually as far as they get because after calling multiple days with no luck, it’s easy to give up. As a beginner, there are multiple things to keep in mind to have the best success.
The Basics of Fur Season
First thing's first, we only call for coyotes during “Fur” season. This doesn’t keep us from shooting coyotes in the off season, but during the winter, coyote pelts are ready for the cold and worth money. This makes our effort worthwhile and puts some cash back in the bank. This is usually from September to February. After February, warmer weather causes the coyotes to slip their long winter hair and their pelts become worthless.
September-October is usually our favorite time to call because you get a lot of uneducated coyotes and pups from the summer. This is when we like to call as many stands as possible, so we will call no longer than 15 minutes, usually 10 minutes of straight distress. This will vary from rabbit, bird, fox, fawn and even coyote distress. Keep it simple, keep it quick and call as many stands as you can from sunup to sundown. Throughout this season, we like to use certain sounds until they stop responding to the call. Don’t change your sound if it’s working. If your sounds aren’t working, it’s time to change!
November-December is the toughest time to call unless there is a lot of snow and a few extended cold fronts. If the weather is warm and the ground isn’t frozen, we try to use territorial and pup howls. This will bring in the smarter coyotes that don’t like other coyotes in their territory. The only problem with using an alpha challenge howl is you won’t call in many pups. We usually will start with a pup howl until we get a response. If they start to challenge the howls, then we go to the challenge howl. If nothing comes within 15 minutes of occasional howling, we switch to a coyote fight or pup distress sound. These stands usually last for 20 minutes.
January-February have become our favorite months to call for coyotes. During these months, females start to go in heat and coyotes start to breed. Invitational howls are the go-to and can bring in jealous females or males looking for love. The key to howling is to not do it too frequently, but frequently enough that they know your general area. A lot like bugling elk, when coyotes are howling, we have great luck cutting off their howl with our own. This can really piss them off and get them to come in on a string.
The general calling sequence can significantly vary depending where you are located. The most frequent question we get asked is; “What sounds were you using”. We don’t like to answer this because it’s easy to copy someone’s sequence and hope for the best. We always recommend finding which sounds work for you in your area. Find something that works and stick with it until it doesn’t work.
Now that we have covered the basics of fur season and what sound sequences to use, here are a few general tips that should be obvious, but are easily overlooked.
Get a Good Vantage Point
First, get a good vantage point without exposing yourself to the area you’re calling. Never sit on the skyline. Sometimes, it’s hard to find a great vantage point but when you do, it is game on. Coyotes can be called to poor vantage points but this often leads to poor shot opportunities. You also want to get to your stand without anything in the area knowing you’re there. This includes deer and other wildlife. If other animals in the area know you’re there, typically the coyotes will as well. Try to keep something behind you when sitting down, this can be a sagebrush, rock, tree, etc. Anything to help break up your silhouette and give you a nice back rest while you’re waiting for the coyotes to come in.
Know the Wind
Second, know the wind. Coyotes will almost always work their way toward the wind when coming to the call, so many people want the wind in their face. The problem with this is the best spot for them to come in is straight in front of you where you’re typically scanning and facing toward. Always know the wind direction and try to kill coyotes before they catch your scent. Coyotes can hear or even see you and will come back to the call, but once they smell you, the stand is over.
Keep Your Calls Natural
Third, don’t play your call too loud!!!! This is something that we have been guilty of in the past. I assure you it will reduce your success much more than you would think. If it doesn’t sound natural, coyotes aren’t going to come in. FoxPro recently came out with an HD line of calls that won’t distort at max volume, but you still don’t want to play your call that loud! Coyotes and other animals are often not that loud in a real scenario and if the coyotes are close, they will know something isn’t right. Another thing we like to do is keep the sound playing unless it’s howls. Many say this isn’t smart to do, but if you keep the sound varying in volume and the call 30-50 yards from your location, then it will keep coyote interested. Too many times, we have muted our calls as the coyotes are coming in. After a few minutes they lose interest decide not to come in. However, if we keep the call going, even at low volume, they rarely lose interest.
Think Outside the Box
Fouth, think outside the box with sounds. Most people who call for coyotes go to the store or internet and buy a FoxPro, because they make the best E-Caller on the market. These calls come with a very generic sound list and typically, you won’t ever use 50% of the sounds that come with the call. It seems the sounds you use are the same sounds everyone else uses. These sounds get used way too much and coyotes become educated. In our area, every time coyotes hear 'Lightning Jack' playing, they know it isn’t a real rabbit dying. You can buy hundreds of sound on FoxPro’s website that don’t come with the standard call. You can also go directly to FoxPro’s website and purchase a call with your very own custom sound list. There are also multiple other companies that offer compatible sounds for FoxPro calls. Varying or customizing the calls has helped us greatly in the last few years.
Good Camouflage is Key
Fifth, good camouflage is key to blending in with your surroundings and withstanding the elements in cold conditions. Coyotes are colorblind, but they still have amazing eyesight. They can see the smallest movement, especially if you’re wearing solid colors or blocky shaped Camo. We have used Kryptek Highlander gear for the last nine years and recently started wearing their Altitude line. We love both, but Highlander blends in much better in the sage brush country because of the lighter color in the pattern.
Picture this: you’re wearing your normal camouflage in front of a white back drop or in the snow. You will stick out like a sore thumb! Kryptek also offers snow camo and multiple snow camo pieces of gear in their Wraith and Obskura lineup. The over-whites are also awesome to have as well because you can easily put them over your existing gear and you don’t have to drop a bunch of money for them.
Where There are More Coyotes, You Will Have More Success
Last but not least, you want to call where the coyotes are! We have always thought coyotes are almost everywhere and they usually are, but the bulk of coyotes will be around farm/rural ground where meals are plenty and easy to get. Where there are more coyotes, you will have more success. The winter months are also great times to call because the coyotes migrate from the mountains into the lowlands where there's more per square mile. We have found this to be very true when we call spots that have always produced, but during the summer/spring, there seem to be very few coyotes around.
Get out there and help manage the predator population! The elk and deer will thank you.
- Colby Lankford; CCS Outdoor