If you associate coyotes in your mind as a dumpster diving pest that bites small family pets, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coyote is feral, elusive, and highly adaptable. Reading how to do it before heading out to bag your first, or simply checking on new techniques to hunt successfully in winter, this full guide to coyote hunting is the only information you’ll ever need.
Winter is the best time to hunt coyote, but if there is one bothering a homestead in other seasons, don’t hesitate to take time off from going after waterfowl and big game to experience the chance of getting a coyote in your sights.
Image used courtesy Sports Nation: Flickr
Coyote Hunting Basics
- Set up with good visibility and minimal movement detection
- Wind in your face or crossing your face
- Call in coyotes by activating the territorial/mating/feeding instincts
- Pay attention to the details and match your approach to the habitat
- Take the right gear such as rangefinder binoculars, rifle scopes and more.
How to Hunt Farm Coyotes
Farmlands have experienced a big increase in coyote activity in the last decade. This particular habitat can be challenging for hunters as there is such terrain diversity. You will find howling coydogs prowling the vast expanses of corn and wheat fields, the lush grasslands of the dairy farms, and the grazing pastures where beef cattle feed.
A hunter has to be able to adapt to the environment they find themselves in, so it’s safe to say that your approach and setup must be different for each location. Coyote hunting can never be compared and matched exactly as other types of hunting. The one thing most farmlands have in common is limited cover. The best coyote hunting technique here would be to draw the animals across the open areas to where you are by keeping them curious.
- Setup unseen and quietly (sneak in on foot)
- Ensure the wind is blowing from the coyote hideout toward you
- Use curiosity to call them with a purpose
- Remain patient with the reluctant and suspicious ones
Best Calling Strategies and Decoys for Farm Coyotes
The pickings are good where well-fed farm coyotes live, so you will need a big sound to catch their attention, and then a bit of finessing to keep it. Try a call that creates a long-range prey-like scream, keep that up for a while, and then change up the screams to more of a whine or whimper sound.
If there’s a chance these coyotes are too well-fed to bother with a rabbit-caught-in-trap, you can appeal to their territorial instinct by using a big predator coyote call, or a female call if it’s late winter mating season. The best decoy to use for farm-based coyotes should be lightweight, easy to use, and give the animal something interesting on which to focus.
Image: Sam B – Coyote hunting Fort Rock OR
Stick to using a smaller rifle than the one you use for deer, especially if it’s not your farm you’re hunting on. The right scope to mount on the rifle will be variable and lightweight, with decent magnification, and field of view.
How to Hunt Prairie Coyotes
Image used courtesy Paul Ferland: Flickr
The wide open plains are the ideal camouflage for the coyote and is also considered classic coyote hunting territory. The space can end up being both a help and a hindrance to the hunter. You can use your scope to spy out the coyotes coming from a long way off, but so can they spot you.
- Be sure to make no sudden movements or create a silhouette against the skyline
- Travel between setups in stealth
- Keep low, silent, and patient
Best Place to Set up When Hunting Prairie Coyotes
Try to find an incline or ridge you can hide behind. If you know the layout of the countryside, try situating yourself at a thicket or brush tangle near a water source. If there is an endless stretch of grassland in front of you, try to find the slightest incline and use that as a vantage point for setup.
Most landowners welcome a hunter onto their ranch, especially in winter when the cows are housed in the feedlots. You can obtain farmers’ and ranchers’ contact details from the local chamber of commerce.
Best Calling Strategies and Decoys for Prairie Coyotes
Rabbits are found in large supply on the prairies and grass plains, so stick with a rabbit distress call that offers you a different range of a jackrabbit in trouble sounds. You should consider buying a remote control preprogrammed sequencer decoy that can be positioned up to 200 yards/183 meters away from your setup.
Decoys don’t get more basic than the ones you can use on the grass plains. Simply tie a feather to a protrusion and let it blow in the breeze.
Hunting coyote on the prairie is best for long-range shooting. You will need to pack a rifle the shoots flat, hits wherever you point it, and reaches out fast.
How to Hunt Coyotes in the ‘Burbs
With suburbs expanding into coyote territory every year, and the coydog itself adapting to ex-urbanization with practiced ease, it’s difficult to find a suburban community that doesn’t have a coyote problem of some sort. The same thing has happened in the United Kingdom with the fox.
Best Places to Set up When Hunting Coyote in the Suburbs
There are two issues hunting coyotes in suburban areas: One, there are large coyote populations in these areas that are causing a nuisance; Two, there are multiple private landowners from whom you have to gain permission before hunting.
If you are lucky enough to encounter a landowner who takes coyote population control seriously, it goes without saying that they will want to see your license and know what rifle, ammo, and gun safety you’ll be using. It might even be simpler to offer to use a high-powered airgun or crossbow instead.
- Stick to hunting at dawn or dusk to avoid encounters with joggers, cyclists, and hikers
- If you see a suburban area backed up onto a forest or hillside, leave your calling card in a few letterboxes
Best Calling Strategies and Decoys for Suburban Coyotes
City-dwelling coyotes are competitive with each other and highly opportunistic. Pop a mouse squeaker in your kit to lure them on with an irresistible noise. You can also use a caller with detachable mouthpiece so change up from yips and howls to distress calls in the blink of an eye. That will really keep the animal’s attention engaged.
A rabbit decoy will be seen as highly desirable prey from a suburban coyote’s POV. You can use one mounted on a stake or on the ground. They also come with remote control capabilities.
Try hunting with a pneumatic air rifle with plenty of energy per foot projectability. A low magnification scope is perfect for the closer-in type hunting done in the suburbs.
Assessing Prime Coyote Setups
Gaining experience on how to identify the land features and what the coyote eats there, will help you decide where to set up. This assessment will assist you in knowing what are your chances of remaining unseen, unheard, and undetected through smell.
- Tracks: If there are no fresh coyote tracks around, don’t bother setting up there. Crisscrossing tracks are the best sign of activity. If you don’t know the difference between dog and coyote tracks, make sure you take an image with you.
Dog - Wolf - Coyote
- Cover: There has to be a place to conceal yourself for the required amount of time. The right mix of brush and inclined terrain will allow a coyote to approach in range while you stay undetected. It’s not just you that has to feel protected and hidden, the coydog must feel that too.
- Setup: You have to find the perfect location and make sure there is fresh coyote activity. Now it’s time to check if your calls and decoys are in range while you remain with the wind in your face. Sounds are carried away by the wind, so check that the call you’re using can be heard.
When your assessment is complete, you will be ready to hunt for coyote successfully. When you have more experience, you can choose between sitting it out, calling and using a decoy, or stalking the animal using your riflescope. Once you have found fresh tracks and scat, and figured out if there is adequate cover, you can begin working out how to approach the location unnoticed.
Look at every terrain in a critical manner, and you will always have a successful coyote hunt.