The plan was to fly from Pennsylvania to Billings, Montana, rent a car and spend the five days hunting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Each day we’ll drive through and hunt BLM land ending the day by finding a hotel in whichever town we’d end up at. We’d wake up the next morning before daylight and repeat the process.
Now that I understood the daily routine, it was time to move on to the next order of business—reserving the rental truck, booking flights, and obtaining specific BLM maps of our hunting area. Kirk handled the airline flights while I took care of the truck rental and BLM maps.
In order to find suitable BLM ground to hunt coyotes, I contacted folks from both the Montana Fish & Game, and the Department of Natural Resources. It took lots of patience, and diligence on my part, but proved beneficial as they provided me with valuable information (where to order BLM maps, websites to view online maps, and other folks to talk with about hunting in Montana). All our prep work took approximately four months, so be sure to give yourself enough planning time.
Start of Our Hunt
After arriving at the Billings airport we proceeded to the car rental booth and loaded up our rental for the next five days. To my amazement, Kirk had a program loaded on his GPS unit that displayed BLM land. It’s called TRAXWest. Basically, it overlaid blocks of BLM land over the displayed road system. We ended up utilizing the GPS, along with the BLM overlay, most of the time.
We pulled into our first stand and walked down into the brushy draw. Kirk and I were spread out 50 yards from each other. Man, this was exciting! Kirk let his e-caller play for about 20 minutes without any responses. Then it started misting. At the 25-minute mark, Kirk signaled me over. As we were chatting, I looked down the draw and to my amazement a coyote was slowing walking towards us at 50 yards. I scrambled to shoulder my rifle, held onto Kirk’s shooting sticks, aimed and fired. A clean miss!
On our second stand, we were greeted by challenge barks off in the distance. Kirk used his open-reed howler and got them to respond regularly, but never committing to us. As darkness surrounded us, we drove into the nearest town and got a motel for the night.
From the room we reviewed the maps and decided on our strategy for the next morning. We both felt this was going to be an action-packed hunt based on the first day’s activity.
The Hunt Continues
Day two greeted us with 34-degree temps and clear skies. Little did we know that the next three days were going to be filled with endless calling, hundreds of miles driven, and not a single coyote called into range.
By day four, it became a grueling mind-game, a constant two-way battle of both persistence and giving up. We chose not to give up!
We had two more stands before nightfall. Turns out we ended up at the location of my missed coyote on day one. With enthusiasm, we set up and started calling. A coyote let out a challenge howl. Finally, a coyote within 150 yards! The coyote was on the other side of Kirk so I just sat and enjoyed the show. Kirk started calling back to the coyote until it presented a 139-yard shot. Bang, flop!
We drove into a little town, got a motel room and packed our gear in preparation for our flight back to Pennsylvania
A few statistics about our hunt: We drove 950 miles. Weather conditions were mostly sunny days with temps in the 50s and in the 30s at night. Wind was not an issue until the final two days of our hunt. We used hand calls and an electronic caller. A combination of prey-distress calls and coyote vocalizations were used. Don’t be too quick to give up on a stand. We’d stay a minimum of 30 minutes.
Oh, and as for my miss on the first day, I checked the scope that day and my rifle was hitting 4-inches high at 50-yards. Ouch! I resighted the rifle, but never had an opportunity to use it again. If you go on your own hunt, be sure to sight your rifle in once you arrive, just like they always tell you on the hunting shows!
A set of quality binoculars is a true asset in spotting coyotes in the vastness of the West. Where we hunted, there are many rolling hills and lots of open fields. You could see for a mile with no problem. The difficulty we had was in trying to hide the truck so an approaching coyote would not see it. This is crucial. You have to hide the truck or else the game is over.
No hunting license is required for coyotes in Montana. Other states are this way as well, so be sure to check all hunting regulations for the state you intend to hunt.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have. Good luck!