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Coyote Calling Made Simple at Cabela's

Coyote Calling Made Simple

Author: Craig Boddington

Coyotes are clever--but successful calling isn't rocket science.

Volumes have been written about calling coyotes. There are indeed many tricks to the trade. And in any form of calling--from ducks to deer to turkeys to predators--there are no absolutes.

Not all stands are going to produce. Even if you do everything right not all individual creatures are going to respond, and those that will respond may not respond at a given time on a given day.

But in order to produce those volumes of material about calling coyotes it is necessary to create some sort of mystery regarding the process. It's really quite simple. In order for calling to produce a shot there are just three basic ingredients: You need a stand that is positioned so that a coyote can hear you call; you need to produce a sound that will make a coyote quit whatever else it is doing and come to investigate; and you must be positioned so that you will see the animal before it sees you and be able to take a shot. Let's examine these three basic concepts in greater detail.

Choosing the Stand
The difficulty in choosing a calling site or stand depends largely on the relative density of the coyote population. In much of the West coyotes are so endemic that there isn't much finesse involved, but this rule is absolute: If there isn't a coyote around to hear you call, then you will not get a response. You can choose your area based on concentrations of tracks and scat, and of course by hearing the coyotes howling.

The exact location to call from is trickier. A coyote might come from any direction, but you must choose your stand based on the most likely direction. The wind must be in your favor, not necessarily in your face but never blowing from you toward the area where you think there might be coyotes. You want enough visibility so that you can effectively employ your sporting arm of choice--keeping in mind that if you can see the coyote it also has an opportunity to see you.

I almost always call with a rifle, so I like to set up so that I can see at least 100 yards, preferably a bit more. Low rises overlooking streambeds and valleys where coyotes are likely to travel are some of my favorite spots. If you're bowhunting that much visibility isn't necessarily desirable. This is also true in the East, where callers often use shotguns with heavy loads. Under these circumstances there isn't much point in seeing the coyote until it's within 30 or 40 yards.

The Right Call
There are dozens and dozens of good calls and good calling systems, ranging from elaborate electronic systems to the plain old mouth-blown tube call. They all work if they are employed properly and if the sound produced is correct for the area and time of year.

The trusty "rabbit in distress" call is the basic, and it can work almost anywhere at any time of the year. However, most serious callers use a much larger repertoire. In the spring a fawn bleat is extremely effective, and it can be sweetened by placing a fawn decoy in a visible location, not only giving a hunting predator greater confidence but also drawing attention away from the caller. In our area we have a lot of wild hogs, and in recent years we've had a lot of success with calls imitating a young pig in distress.

The primary mating season for coyotes is late winter, January and February. Howling is much in vogue these days, and this is the time of year when it will be most effective. There are a number of good calls on the market today that imitate the howl of a male coyote, and it can be extremely exciting when another male answers this call, hackles up and ready to do battle.

These guidelines are purposefully vague. The call has to represent something natural to the coyote, whether it's a fawn bleat at a time of year when fawns are important prey, or a mating call during mating season. Beyond that I'm convinced that the exact call used doesn't matter a great deal.

It is important to be patient; once I choose a stand and get settled in I call for about 15 minutes before changing locations. This is long enough for coyotes, but probably not long enough for a bobcat because they tend to come in much more slowly and cautiously. Within that 15 minutes I tend to call for 15 or 20 seconds every two or three minutes. Obviously you're looking around very carefully--with minimum movement--the whole time. But before you decide to change locations and stand up in disgust take a very careful look around!

Taking the Shot
Some stands will produce and some won't. Some days will be better than others, and some days will be complete washouts even when you're doing everything right.
But the most important part of calling probably isn't choosing the site or the actual calling, but being able to take and make the shot when a coyote appears. Good camouflage is extremely important.

You should wear camouflage that is appropriate for your area, including face mask and gloves. Keep in mind, too, that no camouflage is good enough if you're calling in plain view. Back yourself up against a tree or brush or, if no cover is available, lie prone in the grass or sagebrush, keeping movement to an absolute minimum. Shine off your scope or gun barrel are big mistakes.

A lot callers camouflage their rifles. I usually don't, but I try to keep the rifle low and out of sight until it's time to use it.

It's extremely exciting when a coyote comes to the call. No matter how many times you've seen one come in the adrenaline rush is unavoidable, and is one of the reasons we hunt. But it's important to use common sense and try to control the excitement. The game isn't yet over when you see the coyote; you still have to close the deal. You will have to bring your rifle, bow, or whatever to bear. Ideally you will do this while the coyote is hidden by brush or a fold in the ground, but if you must do it while the coyote is in view then you must move very slowly and steadily. Exactly when to take the shot depends entirely on the situation. With a scoped rifle I like to let them get close--but not so close that I'll have nothing but hair in the scope, nor so close that it's almost certain I'll spook the coyote and have a tough running shot.

After you shoot, whether it's a hit or a miss, hold your ground and keep calling for a few more minutes. It isn't unusual to have multiple coyotes answer a call from different directions--and a single rifle shot may not stop another coyote from coming in. Most serious callers agree that the single most important consideration in calling is not to miss. The coyote is an extremely clever animal, but good calling will fool the best of them . . . once. I don't think any of us know if this is actually true or not, but it's a widely accepted article of faith that a coyote called in and missed will never again respond to a call. Certainly not that call! So let them come in until your shot is certain, and then lower the boom!

To view Cabela's on-line selection of predator calls, click here
Author Craig Boddington
Arguably the most experienced hunting writer alive today, Craig Boddington has hunted big game in 29 American states, five Mexican states, and seven Canadian provinces . In addition to his vast North American hunting background, he has been on 46 African safaris and has thoroughly hunted 25 different countries, effectively spanning all six continents.

He currently lives on California's Central Coast when he's not away hunting or on duty with the U.S. Marines. His work includes numerous magazine articles as well as 14 books on hunting and shooting (several of which can be obtained through Cabela's).




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