Scent Control Tactics for Close-Quarters Coyotes

Before you step into coyote country, make sure to scent-proof your tracks.

Scent Control Tactics for Close-Quarters Coyotes

The stream of airborne power didn’t lie as it drifted away from me into the meadow, I soon hoped to call a coyote through. With the truth clearly visible, the limited geometry skills I still possessed from junior high began calculating angles galore on how an arriving coyote might navigate its scent-driven landscape. 

I started my scent control back at the truck with a head-to-toe dowsing of my clothes and gear using a spray bottle of Scent Killer. On the way to my stand, a creek crossing helped wash away any additional scent on my boots. Lastly, a backdoor entrance helped my scent drift away from the suspected coyote hideout. 

After the pop geometry quiz, I felt the coyotes would arrive using an arc to swing wide while investigating the sounds of coyote gratification. A small arm of the meadow would be my shooting lane to put a stop to any coyotes getting downwind as they hopefully felt the burn of a bullet about then. 

Positioning myself just inside the meadow beside a rotting tree trunk, I dialed down the power on my riflescope. Next, I pulled my Atomic Predator Call from my pocket to encourage a napping coyote from the adjoining brush. With the confidence of scent dominance, I started the show.   



Thanks to the profitable whitetail deer hunting market, driven by more than 11 million hunters, predator hunters get to enjoy the resulting innovations. Scent control is one of the largest sectors of the whitetail market, and hunters invest millions into products to make them invisible. Embrace the technology and take advantage of the whitetail introspective for your standard predator hunting routine. 

Totally eliminating your scent can be nearly impossible. However, having the advantage of a diminished scent footprint is noticeable during a hunt. Whether whitetail or predator hunting, I’ve had many encounters where animals passed downwind in a surprise showing. Some simply walked on by due to a combination of overall scent control and possibly a lucky wind updraft. Some suspected something was afoot but didn’t bolt. They paused to assess while giving me time to shoot. I suspect they caught a hint of me but were unsure how old it was or how far away I might be due to the masking with odor-fighting products. 

Begin your scent control regiment well before the hunt with the laundering of your hunting clothes in odor-fighting laundry detergent. If you’re utilizing clothing products like Scent-Lok, follow all manufacturer directions to recharge the carbon lining. After drying, store your hunting clothes in a scent-proof bag to avoid odors clinging to them after your hard work. That’s an important, overlooked aspect by many who merely hang a jacket in the entryway. Finally, if the system requires, cover all your body with the clothing to contain human odor.

Another major miss by many hunters is not laundering any gear items that may also hold scent. Think about backpacks, cloth rifle slings, an electronic caller stow bag or even your favorite mesh hunting cap. Even though it is your lucky hat, the sweat ring it captures over months of use is a giveaway more alarming than flashing law enforcement lights in your rearview mirror. It doesn’t hurt to wipe your rifle down with a scent-eliminating product after a good cleaning either. Those oils and cleaners send a distinctive danger notice out as well. 

Another overlooked human scent trail you may leave could be on the bottom of your hunting boots. Think back to your whitetail hunts. How many times has a deer or coyote crossed your previous path and nearly jumped from its skin? Give your feet a solid dousing of scent elimination spray before trekking into the woods. This is especially important today with the use of electronic callers. Walking out into an opening to place the speaker unit in an upwind position risks the chance of leaving a trail of scent the entire route. A predator attempting to circle downwind of the call and between you could hit your scent trail, and flee leaving you with no option, but a running shot on an escapee in high gear.

Airborne powders are ideal for watching how winds swirl and drift in a specific location.
Airborne powders are ideal for watching how winds swirl and drift in a specific location.


To dominate the scent control arena, you need to be cognitive of seasonal, predominant wind direction at your hunting location. That’s easy at a dinner-plate setting on an Iowa, picked cornfield edge. Move your setup into an adjacent oak hollow, in a foothills’ location or at the bottom of a badland’s butte, and you soon discover a different story. As you review a property and discover potential predator calling sites, you need to note how the wind will maneuver through each unique setting. It’s likely not what’s occurring at the airport weather reporting station miles away. 

That’s why its recommended to test winds before any hunt if possible. Remember that puff of powder I watched in the article opening? It’s an ideal way to visually watch how the wind streams through a complicated backdrop. Lightweight seeds or leaves can also show the wind highway, but powder travels farther with a more visible track. You can watch the stream of light powder floating on even the slightest of breezes to tell you where a coyote will circle if it arrives.

During your preseason or pre-hunt scouting, you can also utilize modern hunting apps to foresee not only wind directions but the possible stream of your scent at a specific location. The HuntStand hunting app features HuntZone technology. It gives you a view of your scent over time with graphics that wind speed, direction, and time in an easy-to-read platform. If you want to see if the area is better on another day, just utilize the 72-hour weather graph for a forecast of not only the wind variables but also temperature, precipitation chances and cloud cover. Future insight like these narrows your gamble on choosing a location and worrying about whether it will be ideal for the weather ahead

I take it another step whenever possible. Although I place a tremendous amount of faith in what I see on my smartphone, I still appreciate a firsthand visit to any hunting areas sporting challenging terrain. Onsite testing gives you a real view of what occurs when winds meet up with terrain and distinctive climatic situations. Morning winds, coulee swirls, ridgetop gusts and inevitable thermals are just a few examples of what can make wind do weird things you usually wouldn’t consider. 

In my Wyoming stomping grounds along mountain foothills, I battle wind shifts every few minutes as morning temperature inversions change the wind course every few minutes. I still check the wind before I leave, but I typically pick a location with ample vantage points when hunting the foothills to accommodate the shifty, morning winds. 

If you do begin to see patterns in wind direction that can affect your scent dispersion at a location, make a note of it on your hunting app. This gives you instant journal information at your fingertips when looking for that next stand. That’s more informing than any weather report.  



As predators become cagier from increased hunting pressure, use the latest gizmos and gadgets to stall, stop, or redirect a predator trying to get your scent. Even if you follow scent control via a textbook approach, you should utilize every advantage to dominate a predator’s olfactory advantage. First, put that electronic caller to the utmost benefit. 

The most significant benefit of an electronic caller is the ability to place it farther away from you to lure a predator into the shooting lane of your choice. This places the sound well away from you and upwind. When a predator arrives, all prying eyes are off you and the predator attempts to circle between you and the caller if you give them ample leeway to make a move. A distance of 100 to 200 yards away from the sound is ideal for a predator to circle in most instances. If you have minimized your boot scent, they should complete their downwind circle with no alarms going off. Then it is boom and game over.

As you contemplate your foot odor, also keep in mind that many electronic calling units require line of sight for the remote and the unit to operate. Read the instructions to see if this is the case and then test the unit in varying situations to ensure it will work if you drop it into a ditch and walk away. 

Scents can also play a pivotal role in catching the attention of an incoming predator to shortstop it before it makes the complete downwind swing of your location. These can work in tandem with an electronic remote caller or as a partner if you employ a hand call. To keep scent concentrated, utilize felt-style wicks to soak up the scent and to place it at a predator nose level, or slightly higher so it can ride on the breeze to spread the odor over a more extensive, upwind area. Don’t place it too high as it could ride right over the top of a predator causing it to miss your olfactory ruse. 

After deploying the scent, situate yourself between the scent, yet leave a large window for the predator to pass in an upwind position away from you in a similar geometry configuration as using a remote caller. Look for structure to help you direct predator movement. Field edges, riverbanks, cliff faces and drop-offs provide structure to back up to that nudges the predator into an upwind position as it slams into the scent. This leaves you downwind, and the scent distracts the predator as you steady for the shot. 

My beginning blast mimicked the sounds of a young cottontail rabbit. After less than two minutes of calling, I let go of the call and gripped my Bergara rifle tightly. The downwind alley was my focus as I hoped my junior high geometry would get a passing grade.

A blur of gray near the alley caught my eye, and to my shock, a big coyote loped into the meadow with sideways glances looking for the distressed bunny. He was moving so fast I lost him in my Sig Sauer riflescope and needed to swing to keep up. I barked once but to no avail. A second, louder bark caused him to slow, but not stop. Even so, it was just enough of a pause to put the reticle out in front and send a Hornady Match bullet on its way. He crumpled at the report. 

As I knelt over him and inspected his teeth, I couldn’t believe the wear on the old canine. He knew enough to circle for scent, but my scent-control readiness combined with old school geometry was a recipe for his demise. 

The most significant benefit of an electronic caller is that the hunter can place it farther away and operate it remotely to lure a predator into open shooting lanes.
The most significant benefit of an electronic caller is that the hunter can place it farther away and operate it remotely to lure a predator into open shooting lanes.


As more and more predator hunters rely on electronic callers, I’ve transitioned to hand calls for a curveball in my predator hunting strategy. The different sound and pitch throw a different noise at predators accustomed to custom speakers. If you also utilize a hand call to dodge the electronic caller education of predators, you can add some swift moves to your setup. 

After the first series of calls are made, there’s no rule you must stay still after beginning your initial call if the terrain provides a veil to move. Utilize a hunting app, such as HuntStand, to scrutinize terrain for this bold tactic. 

After locating an ideal location, squawk out a series of calls from an upwind location and then quickly retreat approximately 100 yards to a downwind location with a view. If you’ve practiced proper foot scent elimination, you should not be leaving a scent trail. Plus, on average, most predators take several minutes to respond, if not longer. 

Your retreat will remove you from the location of the sound, and if the terrain allows, your super-hero-speed move will go unnoticed. A predator will show up near the location of the sound, and your relocation should give you a chance for a shot from an undisclosed location. Hand calls by Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls, Predator hunting scents and scent control, Wildlife Research Center,


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