Late winter comes with numerous coyote-getting complications. Hunting educated coyotes tops the list, but one you may not have thought about with focus is snow depth. For those of you living in a snow-free zone please read along for entertainment purposes only.
Yes, snow can be an issue even as days grow longer and spring begins hinting at its arrival. Why? In the majority of snowbound states the heaviest snowfalls occur in this period, ushered in by spring storms laden with precipitation yet blasted by Arctic air that excels at snowmaking. In my area of Wyoming, March and April always reign as top snow-producing months. It started early though and in late February there’s more snow on the ground than the previous winter months combined.
If late-season coyote pursuits beckon you then consider defensive planning to set yourself up for success.
Snow does one thing and it does it well. It stops access cold. Whether it’s a snowbank blocking your trail or deep snow that requires post-hole hiking, snow isn’t helpful at getting to the coyotes. At minimum make sure your vehicle has enough equipment stowed along for an easy extraction if it gets stuck. This includes a shovel, snow chains, tow rope, jumper cables, tool kit and sand to add traction to any icy spots.
Your ATV should include a similar list of recovery items, plus you may want to consider swapping tires for tracks if your budget allows. I’m constantly amazed at the places a tracked ATV can go that a standard tire-equipped ATV would falter.
Lastly, in the mechanized department, access to a snowmobile almost guarantees access to all snow-covered country. Some resort destinations even rent Jeeps, ATVs and snowmobiles. Check ahead as a day rental is cheaper than a fuel-eating investment.
If hiking is your game then be sure to include snowshoes in your gear stash. Even in snow conditions that may only be a foot in depth snowshoes will save you thousands of calories a day. Instead of having to break your own trail you’ll be supported on top of the snow by the wider footprint of the snowshoe. Slogging through snow without snowshoes is laborious at best, but you can reduce the sweating with snowshoes. Mine just got pulled down out of the rafters again after the latest dump.
Snow Tactics for Coyotes
The message you send at this time of the season has a lot to do on whether the coyotes have seen more bullet testing that the shooting tunnel at the Hornady ammunition plant.
One message you can’t go wrong with is coyote vocalizations. You don’t have to get fancy with your coyote vocalization calls. Simple howls work to lure coyotes into range during mating season. Start out your setup with a lone howl, repeat it several times and then sit back and wait. If nothing respond after about 30-45 minutes, move on and try again.
That isn’t to say coyotes haven’t been duped by earlier hunters using howls. If your gut gives you that feeling then you may want to spice up your coyote talk. Take a look at coyote vocalizations that have a more seductive approach.
Coyotes have a large library of vocalizations. If you listen to your own dog (or the neighbor’s that keeps you up all night) you can hear these various message. And although howls are heard the most, breeding-season females incorporate high-pitched yips and whines into their vocabulary. This tells neighboring males their willingness to mate. A short cadence of these whines could spike the lust in a coyote within earshot.
Although coyotes fare better on snow than you and I, they still look for the path of least resistance when inches transform into feet. They also combine those travels to food-rich locations.
Look for coyotes to follow any paths broken by livestock, wildlife like elk, farm tractors or windswept plains. When looking for top trails to follow consider whether they lead to food. Creek bottoms bursting with rodents, farmsteads, and borrow ditches holding a roadkill deer all have attractive qualities for coyotes during a snow event. I move closer to ranches when the snow invades because coyotes do the same. A dawn setup before ranch hands begin feeding has accounted for numerous coyotes for me over the years.
There’s one bright spot even if you don’t bag a coyote in the deep snow. Spring is on its way!