|The author after a great day of late season calling in Northern Montana.|
It was early season as we rolled along the back country roads of Nevada stopping every few miles to howl and locate coyotes for the next day. It was 4:30 am when we finally parked the truck to get some sleep. At first light we quietly left the pickup and walked only a few hundred yards to our first stand. We were very excited to get our season underway and our expectations were high after a successful night of scouting. That day was filled with short walks to stands, rabbit squalls, a few crow calls, and charging coyotes. As the sun set and the dust settled we had 7 coyotes in the truck. The truth is there should have been more, but early season jitters got the best of us a time or two.
Every year my season starts with a few hunts like this as coyotes run me over for the opportunity at a free meal. They come hard and fast on just about every stand. They don't even care which distress sound I use, they just want it. What happens to the coyotes between October and March that makes calling more difficult? What can we do differently in the late season if we want to call and kill coyotes? The bottom line is that we have to work harder. I would like to share a few things that help me call and kill coyotes all season long.
Where are they? In the late winter months there are fewer coyotes in fewer places. Coyotes have been trapped, snared, called, shot by big game hunters and ranchers, shot from airplanes, poisoned, and the list goes on. Also, coyotes are paired up for mating or bunched up in areas where they can still find food. Are there still coyotes? Yes, lots of them, but they are typically more congregated. You have to find them before you can kill them. Scouting and locating coyotes is imperative this time of year. When selecting areas to scout keep in mind they're frequently congregated around cattle, sheep, deer, or antelope herds. If you were a coyote where would you go to find an easy meal?
|The author dragging a late season coyote between stands.|
Everyone talks about "educated" coyotes. Do coyotes really get "educated?" You'd better believe they do if you want to kill them all season long. Most coyotes are typically called from locations that offer easy access from a truck or four-wheeler. Quite often all it takes to call them is to throw them something different. Walk further into your stand and create a calling situation they've never heard before. They've probably been called from the county road a time or two, but if you're in their backyard they'll likely come take a look.
There are several reasons that coyotes respond to a call including hunger, curiosity, mating, and territorial instincts to name a few. Coyote vocalizations are very effective from January through March and are a key to late season success. Learning coyote vocalizations and when to use them takes time and practice, especially if you're using mouth blown calls. The key vocalizations for me are the interrogation howl and the female invitation howl. They are both non-threatening and will not scare other coyotes out of the area.
I work hard in the late winter months to find areas that don't get called by other predator hunters. In my experience these areas are more difficult to access and other callers aren't willing to put in the effort. The best part is they still hold coyotes that run you over when you blow a distress call. If you want to experience this late in the season, you have to put some miles on your boots. You will typically walk a long ways and make fewer stands, but the stands you make are more productive than any 3 or 4 you would have made next to the county road. I recommend carrying a small dragging rope or even your skinning equipment to make it easier to get your pelts back to the truck.
Don't give up on late winter coyote hunting. Nothing is sweeter for me than fooling late season coyotes and putting them in the truck.
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.