Without saying a word Dad motioned for me to sit among the shade of a string-bark juniper as he pointed with his homemade shooting sticks. He took cover a few yards adjacent from me resting his Sako .220 Swift in his sticks. He pulled a camouflage bandana over the bridge of his nose, hiding his mustache. I pointed my rifle down range and settled in. Relying only upon his lungpower, Dad played a stint of dying-rabbit blues from the Tally-Ho call. The mournful and dreaded cries covered the ankle-high cheat grass and penetrated evergreens in an effort to drum up some business. Dad’s eyes seemed as sharp as a predators and I knew that he would spot a coyote long before I did.
True to form, after 4 minutes of screaming, his lip squeaks caught my attention as I noticed a coyote facing us. The coyote looked back over his right shoulder giving me a chance to raise my rifle and settle the crosshairs below his neck. Just then, I heard Dad whisper, “wait, wait, wait, he’s not alone.”
A second or two later and another coyote came into view behind the first. Dad commenced his lip squeaks and the pair trotted toward our location. One hundred-fifty yards out, they split and began to take position opposite one another at our flanks. The male headed towards Dad as the female headed my way. As the male closed the distance in front of Dad, he whistled stopping the coyote briefly. A shot rang out just as the coyote took another step and the bullet sailed over it without connecting. The male coyote vacated the country with his female partner in tow. I blazed every round I had at the female as she bolted to catch her fleeing partner. My rounds found earth and nothing more. Dad, chuckling from his hide, waved me over to chat. “What happened? He asked.”
I teased right back stating, “At least mine was running!”
Dad laughed, “Why didn’t you wait for her to stop?”
“Cause you were shooting at them.” I replied.
“No, I shot at him, I didn’t shoot at her.” he said.
“What? Huh? I’m confused!” I stated as I sat down beside him.
Dad explained “Why is he running? Cause I just shot at him and missed. He saw the muzzle flash, felt the bullet buzz past him, and heard the report, right?” “But why is she running—cause he is? That’s dogs chasing dogs. She has no idea why he’s running she’s just chasing him. But, she still wants to know why he is running so before she gets outta site, she’s gonna stop, turn broadside, and look back at us trying to find out what he’s running from. If you would’ve waited, she would’ve stopped long enough for you to take a standing shot at her. She might have been 250 yards out there, but I’d rather take a standing shot at 300 yards than a running shot at any distance. “
Dad knew what he was talking about. I was just 13 when I learned this valuable lesson. I learned that if we called in a quad (four coyotes) and shot at one of them, most of the time, the other three would take off running, but if we didn’t shoot at them, all would stop at some point to see what had just happened. The body language of a coyote can tell you what is about to happen. A coyote that’s facing you is still interested in what you’re doing. A coyote that turns broadside is sizing you up and is most likely ready to leave. And if a coyote has a partner or three in tow, he’ll glance back to see if the gang is still following. Pay special attention to these little nuances and you’ll not only learn more about your quarry, but sharpen your skills as an effective caller.
About The Author
Tom Austin is a professional predator hunting guide, published outdoor author, and wildlife videographer and photographer. He believes there’s no greater thrill than successfully hunting and harvesting the predator species, which reside at the top of the food chain. As owner and operator of Predator Strikeforce, Tom has daily opportunities to hone his skills “hunting the hunter.” Predator Strikeforce allows individuals of all ages, both male and female, the opportunity to get up close and personal with the hunters of the animal kingdom. Individuals who embark on a predator hunting adventure with Predator Strikeforce have an opportunity to “get their 15 minutes of fame” through the film.
Tom writes editorials for AR Guns & Hunting and authors a monthly column for Predator Xtreme magazine titled “Caller for Hire.” He literally hunts predators from Canada to Mexico and every hilltop and valley floor in between. For Tom, predator hunting isn’t just an obsession, it’s a way of life.