For decades the most popular predator call to employ for coyotes has been the rabbit in distress. It continues to work today, but more and more coyote hunters are putting coyote vocalizations into play, including the ever-popular howl. It’s one of my mainstay calls, but I like to test the waters and a new favorite of mine has a more confrontational tone. Quite simply I like to pick a fight and make it sound like there’s a fight going on at my calling site.

With today’s wide range of digital callers there’s no shortage of buttons to hit including canine in distress, pups in distress, growling coyotes and others. Any of these sounds can mimic the noise of coyote chaos.

What do coyotes think is going on when they hear their suspected cousins quarreling? It depends on if you add in prey in distress or merely work with coyote vocalizations. When prey sounds are introduced I truly believe coyotes are fooled into thinking a pack of coyotes are tussling over a meal and bound in to either survey the carnage or join the banquet. I still like to start out any setups with coyote howls to set the stage that intruders are in the area. After a short wait you can then introduce prey sounds before a series of coyote bickering. How long you let each play is personal choice. In most animal fights the confrontation is short and sweet so I don’t get carried away with long stretches of yipping and growling, but enough to establish that there’s a fight going on.

If you use coyote howls and later add in fights you could be sending a message of mates fighting over a breeding partner. February is when breeding begins so coyotes will be in search of a mate. In some areas this brews up battles for any unattached females. The sounds of a fight could bring in another loner looking for love.

Last winter I hiked into a remote public parcel and set up in the dark only to be depressed by a spooked coyote barking at my location. The coyote eventually shut up and went its way while I waited quietly for the basin to forget about the fracas. My usual calls did little good and about 30 minutes into the setup I decided it was either time to pull up tent stakes or try something new.

Not one to give up easily I hit the canine fighting calls on my digital caller and minutes later a pair of coyotes boiled off the rim of the basin headed my way. Since they were on a collision course I stayed my decoy dog Sage and she watched as the bolder of the duo trotted to within 100 yards eyeing my dog the whole way. I ended the standoff the Hornady way, flung my Nikon Coyote Special riflescope to pick up a double — rats! The second coyote used a small drainage as an escape tunnel, but one furry prize after 45 minutes worth of calling time was well worth the long hike in and out of the Wyoming rough country.