As winter wears on so do the nerves of local coyotes. By now most coyotes have heard it all including the foot-stomping rumble of a Hemi in hot pursuit. Although any call may work at any time, especially if you can hunt limited-access properties, it takes a special message to bring a coyote into rifle range in late season. There is one exception and it has everything to do with Valentine’s Day. February is special for human lovers and the same is true in the canine world of coyotes. The month of February marks the time period when the majority of coyotes court, fall in love and settle into a quaint den.
Love clouds the minds of coyotes like it did when you were a teenager and may still do in midlife. Coyotes don the same rose-colored glasses in February as adolescent human males do year-round. As the race ramps up to find a mate coyotes travel miles to meet the right partner. They also use auditory clues instead of match.com to find the right mate.
During this time period I try to keep it simple. Coyotes are hungry, but they are also looking for mates. That’s why I primarily stick to howls. The lone howl is simple to master and it simply works to lure coyotes into range during breeding season. That isn’t to say the coyotes haven’t been duped by hunter howls and are keeping a safe distance from the perceived threat, but the confidence a howl transmits may be enough to sweet talk a coyote into rifle range.
If you want to spice it up a bit, try mating yips and whimpers. Like the dog in your backyard coyotes have a range of vocalizations and although the various howls are the most familiar, in breeding season females incorporate high-pitched yips and whines into their vocabulary to advertise their willingness to males.
I’m sure several coyote experts take claim for bringing this sound into the limelight. I first heard about it from coyote hunting fanatic Dave Tatum, a past animal damage control officer who currently outfits hunts in his home state of South Dakota. He witnessed a pair of coyotes bantering back and forth one winter day using the high pitched whines. It’s been a staple for him since from mid-January through mid-March.
If you want to master the female love talk with the help of a call look to Hunter’s Specialties and purchase their Estrus Whimper Call. Estrus whimpers are high pitched and three or four series of whimpers advertise a female is in the area. They are unmistakable to male coyotes. Give it intensity and sound sultry. Wait for up to 15 minutes and if that doesn’t do the trick you can always end your setup with a howl for a long-range invite.
Last winter at this time I started out a setup using lone howls, but quickly switched to estrus whimpers. I was just about to put my dog into live decoy action when a coyote busted out of a coulee right in front of me.
I lost sight of it for a few seconds as it coursed toward me in a particularly steep gully, but when it reappeared I had a 75-yard shot for my TC and let my Hornady V-Max (www.hornday.com) do the rest. The coyote was a young male and like human males, hormones got this lad into a true heap of trouble.