6 Reasons Your Coyote Hunting Stinks

Getting frustrated because coyotes are getting the best of you in the field? You may be making these mistakes.

6 Reasons Your Coyote Hunting Stinks

If you're making the sad walk to the truck after another unsuccessful day of hunting coyotes, take solace that you're not the only one who has blanked.

Coyotes are smart, wily predators. We know that. Despite our best efforts to hide, use top gear and make realistic calls, sometimes we fall short. Not every hunt results in a songdog hitting the dirt.

But if you never are successful, something's definitely amiss. Coyotes are found pretty much everywhere in the United States. Chances are good you'd stumble upon one starving or stupid coyote in all of your efforts. If not, maybe you're making one of these mistakes that can easily be fixed.

You Smell Bad

Coyotes have an incredible sense of smell. If you're set up and the wind blows your scent to them, it shouldn't be a surprise if they stop and haul tail in the other direction. We're in their world. Consider how we might be in the yard and get a whiff of cigarette smoke. You know your neighbors don't smoke. But then you see a guy two or three yards away painting the windows and smoking. Whatever little bit of wind you didn't even notice was blowing that smoke toward you.

It's a similar deal with coyotes and our sweat, truck stink, clothes or camp odors. Remedy that with clean clothes and some cover scent or odor-control spray like from Wildlife Research.

You Didn't Set Up Correctly

Do you know the prevailing wind direction where you hunt? Have you checked the weather forecast? Those things matter. Setting up on the right wind to help you can make a big difference.

If you're keen on the wind but still getting busted, take a look at your setup. Are you in the open? Partially obscured? Sitting against a tree like you're hunting turkeys might work for gobblers. For coyotes, it helps to be camouflaged and obscured in some way. Wear gloves and a mask. Get in the shadows. Find a good bush to nestle into. Create a ground blind. Carve a hidey-hole in a cedar tree or big shrub and sit there. Make yourself blend into the terrain or vegetation.

Wrong Time of Day

Coyotes work the edges, often favoring dawn and dusk to midday. They'll be out at night, too, but unless you can hunt at night don't worry about it. Go early or later in the day when they're on the prowl.

I've stared using a Moultrie XA-6000 cellular camera and my coyote sightings are at night and early morning. I can tell because of the timestamp, which gives solid insight into their movements. Another camera I'm using in a different spot confirms their roaming hours, along with a bobcat that has returned. I'll probably get more daytime images as winter rolls in, as that's been the norm in previous years. But for now, my predator hunting would be best at morning and evening. Use game cameras, if possible, to help you set up a strategy.

Calling Problems

Conventional wisdom says to start softly and build up your calling. I've never heard a rabbit or bird being attacked by a predator start softly and build into a death scream. They start screaming immediately and loudly, and then taper into a whimper before they die. That's how I call, and I put some whimpering screaming emotion into it. A rabbit or squirrel being attacked sounds crazy. So does a blue jay.  I'm no predator whiz but I think that makes more sense. However, more veteran hunters use traditional calling that starts quietly and builds. The thought is that loud calling right out of the gate could scare or spook a close coyote. That makes sense, too.

Don't be scared with your calls. If you're using a mouth call, practice (just like for elk, ducks or turkeys) and get emotional. Remember, you're the rabbit being mauled by a hungry, growling coyote. You want another coyote to come to that fight. Lay into it. Use a white feather tied with a string to a coat hanger about 30-40 yards away. If you're using an electric call, choose some basic sounds and know how to operate your caller. Set it up away from you or at least use a decoy.

If you're still having problems, find a local predator hunter and ask for help. Or check out the Foxpro Youtube page to listen to calls being used in the field.

You Don't Have Coyotes

This sounds crazy, but maybe you don't have coyotes on your hunting grounds. If neighboring land has better sources of food and water or habitat, they may be there. Or they may be on their neighbor's land, two tracts from you, or even further. When small game populations crash, they'll look elsewhere. When those bounds back, they may return. That's imply nature at work.

Coyotes will roam, but you probably will know if you have them. Look for poop — that's an easy indicator — in roads or on trails. Use game cameras for surveys. Listen, of course, for howling and yipping. A tract I hunt this year has soybeans planted on the adjacent property. The coyotes that hung around our place all moved over there this summer to run and ramble. Coyotes move. Yours may have, too.

They Can See You

This goes back to the bad setup mentioned earlier, but that one discussed wind. This is about you, Fidgety Fred and Willy Wiggles. You're moving too much. Being camouflaged with the appropriate pattern and in the shadows or behind a blind may not be enough.

Regarding camo, I'm not talking about having to match your Realtree or Mossy Oak or TrueTimber from head to toe. Some do that and that's cool. I'm talking about covering your skin so it doesn't flash. Your face looks like a spotlight. Pull down your cap, wear a mask and wear gloves. Use the right camo colors — brown, green, tan, ASAT, whatever — for the habitat.

Once you're set up, have the call and decoys out, and are ready to go, take a minute to just relax and scan everything. Look at clumps of brush, rocks, trees, bushes, fencerows, whatever. Make mental notes about distances, unless you have a rangefinder (which I recommend using). Get your gun on your rest and make sure a round is chambered. Relax, take a few deep breaths and just chill for a minute.

Once you start calling, use your eyes. My father taught me this years ago with deer hunting, and mentors did the same about turkeys. Get set, get ready, call and then use your eyes to scan for movement. If you're jerking your head around, turning at every bird or sound, a coyote can see you. Bobcats, too. They know where the sound is coming from and may be coming. Your constant moving could be the thing that turns them away. Chill out and quit moving too much.

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