Look low for incoming coyotes

September 20, 2013

Many cuss coyotes as lowdown, dirty, thieving scoundrels. That's a little harsh, but they are lowdown in a vague sense. They love low terrain to make an entrance and for a hurried escape. I learned that the hard way one October day in South Dakota. My buddy and I were calling coyotes in the rolling prairies, but drought had the grass whittled down to the cover of shag carpeting. No approaching coyote could hide. Just when we thought the setup was a failure a coyote literally charged from a shallow wash less than 15 yards from our feet. My buddy was a speedy shot and rolled the coyote with one shot as I sat there dumbfounded as to how this coyote got so close without us seeing it.

Today I know better. Coyotes love to approach a stand using the cover of terrain, especially draws, ravines and coulees, oftentimes concealing themselves in the depths. When you take stand, be sure to note all low-lying terrain and keep an eye on any mouths or openings where the piercing yellow eyes of a coyote might appear.

When coyotes want to cover ground quickly and stay hidden, they use the low spots as travel corridors. Remember, an average coyote is only 20 inches tall and if they run those gullies they are hard to track, much less see. And as I learned they can get close awful fast. If they run the low spots right they can arrive at your front door with ghost-like speed that would impress the Invisible Man.

In addition to setting up with elevation to peer into low spots you may also want to arm yourself with a helpful partner, or as Vice President Biden says, "a shotgun." A shotgun can help you capitalize on a close coyote that appears from any low-lying travel routes. If a second coyote appears in the distance then you can switch to a rifle for follow-up shots.

Another friend and I once did a stand on a wide-open hillside with nothing but a deep, narrow draw coursing up to our stand site. Any coyote coming would be seen at least 200 yards or farther, giving us ample time to adjust for the shot, or so we thought.

At the five-minute mark a coyote popped up out of the draw 50 yards in front of us charging ahead with the determination of a grizzly at full speed. I settled my reticle on the coyote's chest as it broke the 25-yard barrier and ended that coyote's Olympic hopes with a Hornady V-Max. Keep an eye on any low spots in your hunting area and you might also catch a coyote coming in under the radar.

If you have a story of a coyote slinking in under the radar on a hunt, share it below. We all learn together!