How to Call and Kill More Eastern Coyotes

When things get tough while hunting eastern coyotes, bolster your chances at calling in these wary creatures.

How to Call and Kill More Eastern Coyotes

A snowy night in January had me stuck inside as the prospects of hunting seemed futile. Instead, I watched a re-run of the Big Bang Theory on TV. In this episode, Howard Wolowitz was explaining to his buddies his self-proclaimed “Wolowitz Coefficient,” which multiplied various factors to increase the odds of his brainiac buddies meeting girls in bars.

After my laughter ceased, I thought, “I bet there is a coefficient that applies to predator hunting.” More specifically, a coefficient that eastern coyote hunters can apply that will bolster their success while attempting to call in the creatures that are seemingly so elusive. 

With this notion, the Eastern Coyote Coefficient was born!

The Eastern Coyote Coefficient

First, understand what a coefficient means. The term is most often used in the worlds of mathematics and physics. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a coefficient as “any of the factors of a product considered in relation to a specific factor.”

What does that mean? That terminology would give Sheldon Cooper a run for his money! Luckily, we can define a coefficient in much simpler terms that will make sense to most folks. In plain English, coefficient means “joining together to produce an outcome.”

The Eastern Coyote Coefficient combines three specific factors that produce a result. The intended result is increased success while hunting. The factors are the population of coyotes, the pressure put on coyotes and the personal calling efforts utilized. When each of these factors is present in a calling stand, the hunter stands a solid chance at achieving success. When one factor is missing or deficient, the opportunity for success diminishes. 

1) Population

It is my belief you cannot truly kill all the coyotes in your area. Prime and preferred habitat is in high demand for coyotes and when one (or even a few) is removed, other coyotes quickly fill the void. Your calling efforts may be affected by coyote populations that fluctuate throughout the calendar year.

These populations are highest in the spring when litters of pups have not yet been served their dose of harsh morality (80% mortality for pups within the first year have been recorded in the East). Come fall, the coyote populations are still healthy. Opportunistic deer hunters and predator callers who jump-start their seasons in the fall begin to thin the numbers. Regardless of when you wish to start your calling efforts, you will need to find coyotes to hunt.

There is an adage that says, “You can’t call them in if they’re not there.” I don’t believe there’s a hunter in existence who won’t agree with that statement. Hence, the first thing all serious hunters should do is verify that there are huntable numbers of coyotes in their area. Just because you witnessed a coyote pass within 300 yards of your treestand in October doesn’t mean it will be there in January. It could have been a transient coyote passing through as it searched for suitable habitat.

A grassroots scouting plan has you looking for tracks in mud and snow. Listening for howling will also indicate that coyotes are present. Taking things to the next level involves trail cameras to help learn when and where coyotes are around. Good news for trail camera fans is that the models that send photos directly to your cell phone are now affordable to all and instantly give feedback as to when coyotes are in your hunting locations!

What hunters need to realize — and this truly helps them out as far as being consistent in their calling efforts — is that coyote populations are not equal throughout each state. Some areas/regions are far better than others! For example, in my home state of New York, most areas have a reported population density of 0.5 coyotes per square mile. However, our Department of Environmental Conservation has pinpointed areas that hold six coyotes per square mile. 

The key for hunters is to find those “coyote hotspots” and seek permission to hunt in and around them. A phone call to your state’s wildlife or game department may send you in the right direction as far as determining just where the hotspots are located. It certainly can’t hurt to ask! Hunters who kill the most coyotes happen to have areas that have high populations of coyotes. If you want to increase your kill numbers, find areas that have higher densities of coyotes. This factor is vital!

2) Pressure!

Have you ever noticed that early-season coyotes are more eager to come to the call? Or, that the first time you hunt a farm is the most productive? These occurrences are largely due to pressure, more specifically the amount of hunting pressure that coyotes receive from hunters. The pressure could also be from one hunter who continually visits the same farm over and over. Surely, having vast amounts of sole access to virgin private land is more encouraging than repeatedly hunting state lands that are littered with footprints from other hunters who have called the same spot the day (or perhaps hours) prior.

The bottom line is that coyotes and hunting pressure are a bad combination. Coyotes catch on quickly and if they’re not killed during initial attempts, they may shy away from future calling scenarios. Much has been written about calling tactics when dealing with pressured coyotes. That’s a good thing because, as the sport’s popularity continues to rise, hunters need to adapt their tactics to achieve success. 

How can hunters deal with pressure as part of the coefficient and still achieve success? The most obvious answer is to find areas that do not receive a lot of pressure from other predator callers. Although it seems as if “everybody” is calling these days and that all areas are being pounded, that is not the case. While the most convenient farms and the most welcoming farmers may be inundated with hunters, plenty of prime territory exists. Putting extra miles on your vehicle may not be pleasing at the pump, however, your drive to remote lands may pay off when you find coyotes that haven’t heard every variation of digital cottontail distress ever recorded.

Perhaps, you need not drive very far at all to find unpressured coyotes. Scout around home for suburban habitats that may hold coyotes. Research your local laws and seek permission to hunt coyotes hunting neighborhood cats and small dogs. You may have to utilize a variety of firearms (airguns or crossbows come to mind) to maintain stealth, but the opportunity, challenge and reward make your efforts worthwhile.

To summarize: Do your best to find uneducated and unpressured coyotes. By doing so, you can hunt coyotes that will still approach your calling, even late into calling season.

3) Personal Calling Efforts

Let’s assume that you’ve done your homework and found a few areas that hold a higher than average population of coyotes. Furthermore, you have also determined that no other hunters are calling on farms adjacent to your new spots. So far, things are looking good. Does that guarantee success and consistency? Have you satisfied the coefficient so that you can plaster the internet with pictures of your coyotes? Not quite yet! The third factor needs to be addressed and that is personal calling efforts. While I assign each factor an equal value in the equation, the third factor is the most fun to execute. 

Personal calling effort means: “What are you going to do on stand to give yourself the best opportunity to kill coyotes?” All of the fundamentals of proper predator calling still need to be adhered to while hunting. Tactics such as proper approach, correct setup, sound selection all need to be utilized on every stand. Those are all super important, but there are additional key points to maximize success. I realize that all hunters have their own style of hunting. While I do not want you to fully abandon what you are familiar and comfortable with, take the following tactics into account. They are being used by some of the most successful hunters in the Northeast!

The topic of “time on stand” is often discussed in the predator hunting community and there are several viewpoints on the matter. Predator calling is often a “numbers game” and more stands give you more opportunity for success, correct? Perhaps not when calling in the East. I recently talked to a pair of hunters who placed in the top-three in two statewide calling contests. One night, they only made six stands and killed nine coyotes while doing so. Their average stand length was one hour.

According to the hunters, they knew coyotes were in the area, so they simply did not leave. On some stands, they heard the coyotes vocalize. On other stands, they actually saw the coyotes in the landscape. Through experience and observation, the hunters learned that it simply took the coyotes upward of an hour to approach. Had these hunters followed the traditional guidelines of “give each stand 15 minutes and leave,” they would have never experienced the success they did.

A second tactic is to not shoot fox that respond to your calling. In many areas of the East, fox and coyotes share the same territories. Eager fox often sprint to the call and, while this is an exciting scenario, hunters truly targeting coyotes give these fox a pass. Experienced hunters state that coyotes simply take longer to respond, especially as the season progresses, and they need to be given ample time to show up. By bagging a fox in the first three minutes of calling, the opportunity to kill a coyote is greatly diminished.

The third tactic deals with equipment: The use of thermal and night vision optics is quickly escalating. Check out what the most successful hunters are using. That’s right … thermal! While great advances were made with LED scanning and shooting lights, the bottom line is that coyote hunting with thermal units is much more productive. This may relate to hunting pressure. 

As more hunters took up night hunting, the coyotes became bombarded with red lights as they responded to distress sounds. This is surely not a natural occurrence for the coyotes. Their experience of LED lights gave them lessons that they simply didn’t forget. As mentioned, coyotes are intelligent, and they quickly associate the bright beam of light with danger. The problem of coyotes “spooking” at the beam of a LED light definitely resulted in many hunts ended in frustration. Hunters will see their success rate skyrocket once they switch to thermal gear. I can personally attest as I killed more coyotes in the first month of calling than I typically do in an entire season of calling when I switched to thermal optics.

There is a learning curve involved with thermal and night vision gear. However, once familiar with their use, hunters will no doubt thoroughly enjoy their nocturnal hunts. There is even more good news for hunters. The price point of both thermal scope and scanners, as well as night vision units, has dropped to the point where anyone can afford them. Do your research and talk to other hunters who use thermal/night vision so that you make an educated decision on which brand and model of scanner and scope you purchase. Once you make your purchase and use it afield you will realize that — as they say — it’s a real “game changer!”

Conclusion

Successfully calling the Eastern coyote is not an easy task. Calling them in with consistency is even harder.

The Coyote Coefficient is a plan that allows hunters to achieve marked success, even when the odds of success seem tipped against them. When the factors of the coefficient are in favorable balance, hunters stand a much better chance at being successful and enjoying the sport. Even though this article is geared toward Eastern coyote hunting, it’s a safe bet the factors of the coefficient are easily transferred to other regions of the county – wherever coyotes call home!

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