Map Out Your Coyote Capers Now

Developing a game plan long before fur season arrives is an exercise in efficiency and productivity.

Map Out Your Coyote Capers Now

Dawn was just breaking as I pulled my truck to the side of the road. My plan was to scout for deer before the summer heat scorched the sagebrush landscape. Wrestling my backpack from behind the seat, I stopped instantly at the sound emanating from a high ridgetop in the distance. My overanxious border collie Sully, who was prancing beside the truck, also set the parking brake. The territorial family of coyotes yipping a good morning to the rest of the world quickly prompted me to drop a pin on my HuntStand app for a future visit. There was a coyote family in the neighborhood and odds were good a few would stay close to home well into winter. 

Coyote hunting tends to be a fall and winter activity that coincides with furs reaching prime value. Despite this, diehard coyote hunters would be amiss to ignore the summer months. The barbecue and ballgame dog days of summer also provide a preseason window to help prepare for the upcoming season. You do not need to waste a week of vacation scouting for coyotes, but a few hours here and there help streamline hunts when furs are prime.


Confirm the Tenant Situation

Summer does not lend itself to visual confirmation that coyotes are in the area. Vegetation in full bloom, standing crops and lush pastures all provide cover for animals with an average shoulder height of maybe 22 inches. It takes a sharp eye to spot those pointy ears protruding from cover in many summer environments. Nevertheless, some meadows, sagebrush country and even newly cut hayfields offer glimpses into summer coyote activity at dawn and dusk. When you see a coyote mousing it pays to mark the spot because it could mean a den is nearby and the possibility of more coyotes lurking around the area. 

If spotting coyotes in dense habitat has you frustrated, turn your efforts to auditory clues. Coyotes, especially pups with youthful vigor, oftentimes voice their enthusiasm at dawn and dusk. Granted, some coyotes might be tight lipped and wait until it is completely dark before yelling their proclamations, but summer nights have a special aura about them. Why not sit on a tailgate, watch for meteorites and listen for coyotes? It could be the perfect date night. 

I understand. Your schedule may not allow for holding hands after dark, but you might be able to spark coyotes into conversation with a bit of yipping incentive of your own. Simple howls, yips and plenty of yapping tend to be the summer conversation starter. You will have attentive ears anytime you begin to shout out a “hello” in coyote country. Coyote parents are ultrasensitive to any intruders, particularly during the earlier months of summer. They are guarding den sites and might shout back a “stay clear” warning. Later in the summer, your coyote commotion could stir the blood of young coyotes. Many are beginning to roam away from their parents as they test their abilities to survive and proclaim new territory. Any time I am in new coyote country at dawn or dusk, I point my Stealth Yote Howler out the window for a conversation starter.           

If your conversation efforts fall flatter than an ATV tire in a prickly pear cactus patch, you might need to go old school. Coyotes are free rangers, but despite their willingness to walk anywhere, they do prefer the path of least resistance. Check dusty trails, muddy paths, waterholes and any other areas that could capture the imprint of coyote pads. Look for scat, easily identifiable by hair or bone fragments. Fresh coyote droppings and new paw prints on trails equals coyotes marking their territories, even if they are reluctant to speak up.           

In this world of “text before talk,” it does pay to strike up a conversation with any landowners or land managers you run across in the hunting area. Their sightings, experiences and overall estimate of the coyote population might not be based in scientific evidence, but it is doubtful you will find a coyote population survey for your township. File human-based insight and compare it to your discoveries to formulate an overall evaluation of the area.           

A final consideration is to appraise the habitat. Coyotes are not married to a single section of ground. If hunting becomes more difficult than finding a semiconductor microchip in 2022, coyotes will migrate to better hunting lands. Be mindful of drought-stricken lands, overgrazed grasslands, wildfires, agricultural changes (clean farming) and other major land issues that could disrupt coyote viability. One area I hunted along the Missouri River in South Dakota is characterized by rough breaks and steep draws, making it perfect for calling coyotes. Over the summer, I had not visited the area and upon returning the following winter was surprised by the discovery of a trio of new houses in a bustling subdivision plotted for more cul-de-sac construction. Needless to say, the new residents were not supportive of coyote hunting in their backyards.

Howling can be an effective way to determine how many coyotes are in an area during summer scouting.
Howling can be an effective way to determine how many coyotes are in an area during summer scouting.

Permission to Launch from Landowners

Face it. There really is no down time in anyone’s schedule these days despite technological breakthroughs designed for saving time, and farmers and ranchers face unending job demands, same as you. Regardless, summer does present a possible lull over the extremes of spring planting and calving or fall harvest and weaning. This is a good window to confirm land access. Schedule your stops for a time that does not interrupt evening downtime or morning chore jumpstarts. Late afternoon or even midday can be ideal.           

With the current real estate explosion has come a trend of wealthy individuals purchasing rural properties and discovering you cannot hunt a property you previously did is a possibility. It is better to discover this during summer rather than later, as you are escorted off the property by the new owner. A property I have hunted with my entire family was recently sold and the new landowners would not even answer the door when I stopped to ask if hunting there was still possible. I quickly learned they were anti-hunting and apparently also anti-neighborly.            

While visiting with landowners, ask them if others have permission to hunt, whether any land management practices have changed and if they need any help with projects. A little sweat equity or professional freebies go a long way toward cementing relationships with landowners. There are no free lunches and hunting on properties via a door knock is disappearing like low fuel prices. You might lead a busy life, but what is your hunting worth? Purchasing a property will set you back six or seven figures. Leases will run you a strong five figures at minimum. A weekend of labor might cause you to miss a beach party or a mountain retreat, but it will go a long way toward ensuring hunting access.           

If you do suddenly find yourself staring at locked gates, summer provides time to scout public lands. These might consist of a patchwork of state game management areas or millions of acres of Bureau of Land Management parcels. Regardless, study all nearby options. You might discover great coyote hunting is possible on public lands. Stay attentive to lands that border large private holdings, wildlife refuges, suburbia and any remote properties where others are unwilling to venture.

Knowing the terrain, trails, roads and perimeter character sets you on the road to efficient success. Coyotes have an undisputable advantage to all this information as tenants, but you can increase your odds with both online and firsthand views with hunting apps such as HuntStand.
Knowing the terrain, trails, roads and perimeter character sets you on the road to efficient success. Coyotes have an undisputable advantage to all this information as tenants, but you can increase your odds with both online and firsthand views with hunting apps such as HuntStand.

Map Out Ingress and Egress

Whether you have settled on hunting private or public land, summer presents opportunities to examine the lay of the land. Knowing the terrain, trails, roads and perimeter character sets you on the road to efficiency. Coyotes have an undisputable advantage to all this information as tenants, but you can increase your odds for success with both online and firsthand views.           

When nobody is watching at the office, pull up your HuntStand app or fire up Google Earth to take a virtual tour of a property in consideration. Sweep over the image and note all houses, farms or ranches, pastures, wetlands and dense cover. Coyotes will hunt near the outbuildings under the cloak of night and avoid them during the day. They will frequent grasslands for rodent hunting, as well as thickets and forests. And wetlands, in addition to dense cover, provide daytime sanctuaries to escape any present dangers, mainly you. 

Add in the topographical overlays and pin all the potential elevated positions you might call from to jumpstart stand selection. Atlas overlays also provide you with information on how to access all corners of a property. Finally, property ownership overlays might surprise you with how much a landowner owns and who is neighboring the property. It pays to understand where coyotes are traveling to and from. If Tyson has their national chicken operation next door it is a no brainer that neighborhood coyotes rate it as Stop No. 1 to nab an escapee or DOA candidate tossed into a carcass pit.           

A day spent exploring a property unveils where you can park to access calling sites the speediest. You can visit calling sites to see if they have the vantage needed to see incoming coyotes. Plus, you can drive the boundary to see how every adjacent property could influence coyote patterns, good or bad. Keep predominate winds in mind and mark your findings on your hunting app.


Give It a Test Run

I knew you were going to ask this question so yes, why not try a test run. Sure, summer coyotes are not prime. Some of you might be against shooting a coyote during summer that has no fur value, but there are other reasons to do a test run. First, if there are plenty of coyotes it could pose a threat to wildlife of all sizes, especially deer fawns. It’s no secret that coyotes shift their diet from rodents to fawns with June and July being top drive-thru months for convenient dining. Tipping over a couple could lessen the threat for the immediate future, plus give you visual confirmation that ample coyotes are calling your targeted area home. 

The best reason of all is action. Summer coyotes can provide some of the hottest calling action of the year. Parents respond aggressively to guard young pups and later, young pups run to about any call you crank up. I have been busy training a new coyote hunting dog, so we took a few days off this past summer for, well, yes, summer school. We planned to scout some new public land and try to call in a coyote while in the classroom. 

One morning our calls drew in a fleet of whitetail does looking for a fawn in peril. Sully, my trainee, was glued to the flagging tails around us when I swiveled my head and saw a coyote sitting on our flank trying to interpret the chaos. Before I could command Sully to move toward the coyote, it left its perch. I whistled softly to Sully, and we took up the pursuit. Reaching a rocky outcropping, I started to crawl and sent Sully ahead. When I peeked over the edge, the coyote was less than 100 yards from me and zeroed-in on Sully. I was able to crawl a few feet more, deploy my bipod and steady up a Silencer Central suppressed, no-miss V-Max ending on a summer coyote. Sully learned the stare down strategy of mesmerizing a coyote and I was able to connect on it during the lazy days of summer.


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