Coyotes can skip food for a few days, and occasionally do when the hunting gets more difficult. They can’t, however, ignore good bedding cover. When they require a few “Zs” coyotes seldom plop down in the wide open. Those that do are generally treated to a comfortable ride in the bed of a pickup truck. Coyotes look for bedding cover with at least one of the three main criteria: rough, remote or thick. That’s what you need to target on the properties where you hunt.
Once you pinpoint the bedding cover on the property you hunt, be sure to look for alternative sites depending on the weather. Oftentimes traditional bedding cover takes second place when wind, rain or snow ruins a day. Rugged river bluffs suddenly don’t look as appealing when winds whip at 50 mph or more. Grassy swales don’t have the same umbrella effect as a briar patch in a downpour.
Here are some overlooked locations that may have gone unnoticed in your haste to head to textbook coyote country and don’t forget your GPS to keep you legal. In much of America, wetlands and swamps invade lowlands. Sure coyotes like to be dry and comfortable and they won’t necessarily plop down in water, but many marsh areas include islands, peninsulas and dry fringe areas retaining the characteristic thick marshland habitat. The nearly impenetrable cover provides coyotes with a secure bedding area that offers a rustling alarm if danger comes along and it also is a great place for them to start a hunt. Numerous small game animals also take advantage of the ideal environment.
In the Midwest and Great Plains coyotes can often be left without habitat due to intensive farming operations that leave little cover between fencerows. In these instances look for microenvironments with slivers of cover for coyote condos. Some of the best coyote hideouts are abandoned human sites. Look for old quarry sites, disheveled farmsteads, undeveloped back lots of current subdivisions and overgrown canal systems. Coyotes retreat to these areas because of their less-than-manicured look.
Finally, look for “off limits” areas that are closed to hunting access. This could be a military reservation, an industrial site or even a nature park on the edge of suburbia. With no hunting pressure and limited human activity these locations attract coyotes looking for a tranquil neighborhood. You may not be able to hunt these locations, but scouting may reveal an adjacent property where you can set up to call a refuge coyote right into your lap.
I once stumbled upon an idle property owned by a huge corporation that didn’t allow hunting. It was obvious coyotes were occupying the Fort Knox-like site and using it for all-around needs, especially refuge. Instead of driving away, I drove around and eventually secured permission to hunt adjacent to a remote corner of the property. Even though I couldn’t step across the fence, my calls could make the leap. On a snowy afternoon I attempted to call a coyote across the fence and 15 minutes into the setup a bold male charged my howls and prey distress calls. The second he slipped under the fence I blocked his escape with a well-placed 50-grain Hornady V-Max bullet.