How to Deal with Booger-Barking Coyotes

Getting busted by coyotes isn’t the end of the world — it sometimes just feels that way.

How to Deal with Booger-Barking Coyotes

Sometimes I feel as if the world of coyote calling is evolving faster than I can type these words. Look at the advances recently made in understanding coyote vocalizations. A howling coyote is no longer simply a howling coyote. And, as I recently found out, a barking coyote is no longer simply a barking coyote. After 39 years of calling coyotes, I thought I had a respectable knowledge base of coyote vocalizations. However, during the winter of 2023, I began hearing a “new-to-me” term relating to sounds coyotes make in certain situations. The term is “booger barking,” and I had to shake my head when I first heard it being used. 

My first thought was, How could I never have heard of this before? Naturally, I wanted to learn as much as I could about this trending terminology and I went right to the source where I first heard it being used, Kentucky hunter Jon Collins. You might know Jon from his appearances on Foxpro’s hunting videos. He has spent copious amounts of time in the field decoding coyote vocalizations and has discovered that booger-barking coyotes present a unique hunting challenge, and hunters must deploy a specific set of skills if the hunt is to end successfully.                 

What is a Booger Bark?

First thing, let’s define a booger bark. Collins, who is quick to admit he was not the first person to coin the term, describes it as a one-syllable bark that is emitted repeatedly. Sometimes, a wavering howl is thrown into the mix. Coyotes use it when they have detected the presence of a hunter by sight, sound or smell. The purpose of the booger bark is to warn other coyotes that something is amiss. 

Collins relates booger barking to the snorting/blowing of a deer. He explains: “Think about a mature whitetail doe that walks by to your deer stand. For whatever reason, maybe she detects a foreign scent particle. She stops in her tracks and blows warning snorts and stomps her hooves as a means of telling other deer that something is wrong in the area. That is the equivalent of a booger-barking coyote.”  

Collins says that, in his experience, booger-barking coyotes sometimes move back and forth across the terrain, but seldom advance while barking. He also mentioned that while the barks are made by both subadult and adult coyotes of both genders, he has not encountered any pups making booger barks. Collins added that booger barks are not related to any specific season and can be heard year-round.

Challenge Barks Vs. Booger Barks

Some hunters might be aware of challenge barks and howls and confuse them with booger barks. A challenge-barking coyote emits two or three series of barks and howls that are sharply cut off.  It might be defending territory, a food source and/or family members and the challenge bark/howl is a means of fending off intruders. While some coyotes might heed the call, others might approach and the result is often an altercation. Booger-barking coyotes sound off for a much longer time period, even as long as 20 minutes, Collins says.  

While challenge barks and howls can be encountered at any time during a hunt, booger barks are usually heard immediately. This is because the coyote has become aware of a strange presence and wastes no time warning other coyotes in the vicinity. If you begin your sound sequence with a cottontail rabbit sound and a coyote starts to bark repeatedly, it’s a good bet you are hearing a booger bark. That coyote has either caught your scent, visually detected you on your approach or recognized an overly played distress sound. Coyotes generally will not challenge howl to the sound of a dying rabbit — there simply is no need to.

Sometimes, when a coyote is booger barking, the best course of action is to back out of the area and save your calling efforts for another day rather than educate it.
Sometimes, when a coyote is booger barking, the best course of action is to back out of the area and save your calling efforts for another day rather than educate it.

How to Prevent Getting Booger Barked

According to Collins, a booger bark is about the worst sound a hunter can hear. This is especially true if the coyote has smelled you. If your scent is blowing toward the coyote, it is going to be hard to bring it in for a shot. Hence, hunters should take bona fide measures to avoid getting into this sticky situation.

The first step is to use caution during your approach to the stand, being careful not to make unnatural sounds. This would include eliminating extraneous vehicle noises. If possible, park your vehicle on grass or a dirt laneway. Driving and parking on gravel results in sound that carries farther than you might think. As you approach your setup location on foot, make sure your gear is quiet and not clanging together and keep any communication with a partner to a whisper. 

Turn off your vehicle lights as soon as it is safe to do so. Whether it is dusk to dawn, nothing will alert a coyote like a light beam across the landscape. It is also imperative to remain hidden during the walk to a setup. This means using any available vegetation, farm equipment, terrain features, etc. to escape the watchful eyes of any coyotes that might be in the area.

It is vital to be aware of the wind direction as you make your way to a setup. If the wind is blowing unfavorably, alter your route so you do not give yourself away. Of course, pay attention to the wind direction while you are calling. Your scent blowing toward cover that might hold coyotes is the last thing you want — a surefire recipe for becoming the target of a booger-barking coyote.

Your calling sounds can also elicit booger barking. If you hunt an area often, it’s a good idea to change the sounds you use with each visit. Coyotes catch on quickly and if they have a negative experience with a sound or you play it over and over, they often respond with booger barks. Presenting fresh sounds can prevent coyotes from realizing that “Hunter Bob” is on the farm again. Taking these steps to prevent detection will tip the odds in your favor.

Responding to a Booger-Barking Coyote

Despite your best efforts to go unnoticed, the inevitable happens and you get scolded by a coyote. Now what? When Collins encounters booger-barking coyotes, he employs one of two tactics. The first is to break down his stand and back out of the area. He believes that further calling in this situation will only educate the coyote. He is not necessarily done with that coyote, however. “Since I know a coyote is using the area, I will return at another time to call it in again,” he said.

The waiting period depends on the time of year. If the initial hunt took place during late spring to late summer, he will return early in the fall because he knows the same coyotes will still be in the area. If the booger-barking coyote is encountered during the winter months, he will return after only a couple of weeks to attempt to call it back in. Collins believes it is important to present a new scenario to fool the coyote the second time around. The key to returning is to use a new setup location and uniquely new sounds.

The second tactic is to attempt to break them from their position right then and there! Collins points out that this might be a next-to-impossible task if the coyote has detected your scent. However, if the coyote was barking for another reason, such as an alarming noise or an overused prey distress sound, it might still be vulnerable to being called in — or at least present itself for a shot. “It is best to use new and aggressive sounds in this situation,” Collins said.

Collins offers this simple calling sequence to break the vociferous coyote. He begins with one or two challenge howls, followed with three minutes of silence. His favorite is Foxpro’s Male Challenge Scream. Then, he plays a loud and aggressive fight sound, such as MFK’s Fight Challenge or BMF Fight sounds. Collins suggests cranking these sounds up, because coyotes tend to respond better when the sounds are played at a high volume.

How long should you wait for a coyote to show up after playing the fight sounds, and what percentage of the time do booger-barking coyotes show up after using this calling sequence? Collins says no more than 10 minutes, and that it’s a low percentage situation. Approximately 25 percent of the time the coyote will appear, he says. I suppose I would be OK with those odds. It truly depends on the situation. If I were hunting one of my local honey holes, I would opt for the first tactic discussed here (to back out and return later). However, if I am in a location that I do not hunt frequently (and might not return to at all), I would attempt to call in the coyote while I was on stand. 


Even though today’s hunters have access to the best of calls, camo and firearms, they still need to possess woodsmanship skills to achieve success. One such skill is being able to decipher coyote sounds they hear while hunting. The next time you hear a coyote that repeatedly barks at you, remember what Jon Collins would do. Whether you break that booger-barking coyote immediately or during a re-visit, the hunt will go down as one for the books.


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