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Predator Hunting Pre-Stand Checklist

It was mid-October in the Nevada desert and the wind was howling. After several stands I still hadn't seen a coyote. I knew there were coyotes in the area, they just couldn't hear me. After traveling a great distance to hunt I didn't want to quit. I decided my only option was to find an elevated location and call with the wind at my back. Surely I could stop a coyote at 300 yards for a shot before he smelled me, or so I thought.

coyote hunting checklist

The author checking the wind prior to making a stand.

After two short sequences of calls a coyote came charging out of the cedars from across the valley. He was obviously hungry for the jackrabbit distress cries. At roughly 600 yards he slammed on his brakes and headed the other direction. I gained a great deal of respect that day for the coyote's nose. I also learned a very valuable lesson. Un-favorable conditions make an already challenging sport nearly impossible.

Perhaps my favorite thing about calling coyotes is the challenge. Out-hunting the hunter is a thrill and an accomplishment. Every coyote called and killed is a victory. I've learned that to do it consistently I must stack the odds in my favor as much as possible. To help accomplish this I use a pre-stand checklist. I mentally review my checklist before every stand. If I can't answer all of the questions affirmatively, I keep moving and find a different place to call.

Does the area hold coyotes?

This is the first question I ask myself before making a stand. I don't want to waste my precious hunting time blowing a call in areas where a coyote can't hear me. This might sound silly, but I have made this mistake many times. I have been guilty of driving down the road and selecting stands that "look good"; without doing any proper homework. I believe this is a common mistake made by many predator hunters. Over the years I have learned that scouting is a necessity.

I prefer to locate coyotes at night, but have been successful locating them during the daylight hours as well. When I move to a new area during the day, I use coyote vocalizations to trigger a vocal response. Once I have them located I make a plan of attack. Now that I know where they are, what is the next item on the checklist?

coyote hunting checklist

The author with a beautiful Montana coyote.

What is the wind direction?

Is the wind in my favor? A small amount of wind is actually helpful for two reasons. First, it helps me predict where the coyotes will appear. Most of the time they circle to the down-wind side to try and smell their prey. Second, it helps to cover small amounts of noise as I approach my stand. For me the ideal wind is a light cross-wind. It allows me to see the coyotes approaching and when they start to head down-wind I can stop them for a shot.

It's impossible to beat a coyote's nose. I don't waste time calling a stand if the wind is not favorable. I will leave this stand alone and come back another day.

Where is the sun?

Is the sun at my back or at least to one side? I prefer to have the sun behind me as much as possible. It gives me the ability to see coyotes approaching and makes it more difficult for them to spot me. I prefer to sit with my back against a tree or a bush for comfort and concealment. With the sun behind me I am usually shaded which hides small amounts of movement when switching between calls or raising my gun for a shot.

You Must Obey It

It takes everything I have to pass up a great looking stand when it doesn't pass the pre-stand checklist. However, I find that I'm consistently rewarded when I follow these rules. This checklist has made me a more successful coyote hunter and I know that selecting the right stand at the right time means more fur in the back of the truck.

About The Author

Dustin has been calling predators for nearly 20 years. He has competed in coyote calling contests around the Western U.S. for more than a dozen years and has consistently excelled including many wins and top finishes. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of predator hunting with others through calling seminars and magazine articles. To learn more about Dustin or the equipment he uses visit www.predatordown.com.

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