Nighttime Coyote Hunting Tips From the High Tower Shooting Chair

The excitement level of hunting coyotes at night increases, and even moreso from a high tower perch in the glow of a light.

Nighttime Coyote Hunting Tips From the High Tower Shooting Chair

Tommy Briscoe (right) is working on an updated model of the high tower predator-hunting rig.

We crouched as low as we could trying to blend into the dusty west Texas terrain just north of Baird in Callahan County. The hillside view we had chosen had us mesmerized and excited even though we struggled for a comfortable position among the mesquite brush and cactus. A 30-mile-an-hour wind tried its best to discourage us from calling and come back for another try on a better day.

Our battery-powered Johnny Stewart record player crooned our favorite "jackrabbit in distress" song, and within minutes we had three coyotes so close you could see the menacing look in their eyes. I shot the first coyote with a lever action Marlin .35, and boy was that a humble beginning to say the least. That day, 49 years ago, in February of 1971 marked the beginning of an exciting pastime that has only become better with the years.  

Since that first experience, our coyote hunting has taken us to many different and varied locations from Texas all the way to Montana. From that first day we hunted the Glen Elliott Ranch north of Baird, Texas, for about 23 years. We lost our location to deer hunters willing to pay excessive amounts of money to hunt whitetails, after a hunter shot a record book deer just north of us in Shackleford County. After locating to Hamilton, Montana, in 1983, I had the good fortune to continuously pursue "ol' canis latrans" all over Montana and various other places in Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and south Dakota. 

Although early on, our primary efforts focused on calling at night from a sunroof in a four wheel drive suburban or pickup, we later discovered the benefits of a high chair mounted in the back of a four-wheel drive crew cab pickup. In our early years of calling, we used the Johnny Stewart battery powered 45 rpm record player and had considerable success with it. We also had (and I still have in my museum of collections) a Burnham Brothers battery-powered 8-track caller, which would make a good land anchor of sorts. My, how things have changed and technology in this field has exploded. We have used the Hunter's Buddy caller with remote and the Wildlife Technologies caller with remote. Our favorite unit would have to undoubtedly be the Foxpro Snow Crow Pro, especially when calling from a vehicle at night. 

Tower Trips

When you begin your calling sequence, you may get an immediate response and shoot your first coyote within a minute or two. If this occurs it is best to stay put and continue calling, as you may have the good fortune of multiple responses from the same location.

One night in 1975 while calling with long time friend and mentor Pete Tackett, we shot six coyotes at the same location near the small town of Kaufman, Texas. Tackett came up with many of the ideas and concepts that we still use today, and was an electrical genius in wiring lights for night time hunting, red lens and other innovations that have been around for years in the varmint calling industry.

We spent many enjoyable hours hunting out of a 1964 Chevrolet carryall four-wheel drive Tackett nicknamed the "Stump Jumper." He devised a sunroof so we could stand in the back seat and see for a long distance. This easily proved the concept of elevation.

As for rifles and loads, a number of excellent choices exist for the avid varmint shooter. My favorite is a .243 caliber rifle, handloaded with Nosler 85-grain BTHP and Hodgdon 414 for a combination of around 3,300 FPS. This is not a fur load, as it does considerable damage upon impact. But I have had few coyotes run away from this load. We also like our AR platform, shooting a 6.8 SPC in a 110 grain V-max bullet.

When calling multiples, nothing beats that 15-round magazine. A few years back while hunting with my longtime friend, Robert Shelton, he shot eight coyotes at one stop. Pretty fast action, for sure! Even with the thick brush along the river, while utilizing our high tower vantage poiint he had enough elevation to see well enough to almost empty the magazine. 

Having personally hunted with Byron South in west Texas, Randy Watson in Midland and Clay Pope in Laredo, Texas, I can assure you there are some good guides to help you find good coyote populations regardless of where you hunt. All of these guides are excellent and know their respective areas well. The dense brush in south Texas holds a tremendous population of coyotes. But it can be a real challenge to hunt because of the thickness of the vegetation. Once again, elevation with a high tower is the key. If you are hunting whitetails or mule deer along your senderos on the lease, a tower hunting stand is easy to move from spot to spot. 

Tower Tips

The coyote is a different customer at night and can be readily called if proper techniques are used. As always, watching downwind is a must, although not all coyotes will come in downwind. Those that do not pay attention to the wind rarely last long enough to merit mentioning here.

More than a fair share will circle and eventually approach downwind before coming in close enough for a good shot. Coyotes are curious by nature and highly opportunistic, and may sometimes respond merely out of curiosity. They also will respond well in regards to territorial protection, or family hierarchy, especially during mating season. Coyotes also respond well to several basic vocalizations such as challenge call, mating call, and young pup distress.  

The high tower as a night hunting tool has two distinct advantages for calling. First is you are approximately 10-12 feet off the ground, which is excellent for surveying the surrounding area. The other advantage is the large degree of rotation to lessen the chances of missing an incoming animal. From this elevation, it is easy to pick up a set of eyes coming in from 300 yards out.

If you're hunting alone, you can use the single-chair option and utilize a 360 degree rotation, allowing you to cover a lot of ground routinely in a hurry while scanning for those eyes coming in. We normally leave our caller in the back seat of the truck and utilize our remote for calling sequences.

It also is easy to arrange a pair of speakers into the wind for the best sound distribution. Foxpro's Snow Crow Pro will power as many as four speakers simultaneously and has incredible volume for windy nights in west Texas. 

Off-season action provided by coyotes is second to none. Ol' canis latrans certainly merits the respect of any hunter who has spent enough time getting familiar with the techniques necessary to consistently get one of these remarkable animals within reasonable shooting range. Anyone who has looked at one eyeball to eyeball knows what I mean. Good hunting and thanks for your interest!  

For more information on the High Tower Shooting Chair, contact Tommy Briscoe at 307.399.7893 or email at tbriscoe4444@yahoo.com

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