By Bernie Barringer
Two experts share their coyote calling tips.
“Find the food and you’ll find the coyotes.” This axiom holds true across North America wherever hunters pursue the yodelers. That’s why Duane Fronek, from Wisconsin, starts where deer are wintering. “I look for areas that hold deer – like clear cuts that border swamps or frozen rivers that go by swamps and tag alders. Deer hang in these areas and coyotes frequently cruise the rivers checking them out.”
In Indiana farm country, habitat is a little different. That’s where Jake Socha calls his coyotes, but food is still the key to finding them. “Coyotes in Indiana do like to hunt along fence rows, and we have a lot of them. My best and preferred set-up is on a fence row on the upwind side of a woods, marsh or thicket.”
Socha says that coyotes do not like to reveal themselves by crossing open areas while coming to a call so he likes to set up in a way that it allows the coyotes to use cover until they are close. “They like to circle downwind and come up through woods, marshes, and thickets,” he explains. “I always have a hunting partner who usually does the shooting set up between 50 to 70 yards upwind on a fence row, connected to a woods, marsh, or thicket. Then I call from a short ways beyond him, putting the focus on me, and not the shooter’s area. This helps minimize the movement they may possibly see or hear.”
Using The Right Call Is Key In Coyote Hunting
Once you are set up in a good spot, using the right call is key. “For early winter calling sequences I like to keep it simple when starting out.” Fronek adds, “The regular rabbit or fawn distress does the job early on. I use mainly open reed calls, then as the season progresses start with a howl before the distress. Later into the season when the breeding is taking off a howl or two is all I’ll use on stand and then sit it out for a half hour.”
Fronek believes that hunting pressure can condition the coyotes so he takes a low-profile approach in the late season. “I actually back off on calling sounds later in the season and may only howl a time or two on a set and then silence.”
“Also later in the season I will go farther off the roads to call, sometimes walking into a spot that may be a mile in. Most of the easier to get to spots have been called heavy and the coyotes just don’t respond. If you go to them you have a better shot at calling one in; they seem more relaxed.”
Realism Is The Key To Coyote Calling
Indiana’s Jake Socha agrees and says that realism is the key to getting them coming. “With a reed call, you can really emphasize the fact you’re mimicking a dying rabbit, and can adjust everything in one breath and really sound authentic. A real dying rabbit doesn’t just repeat itself over and over with the same pitch and volume like you get out of electronic calls. Don’t be afraid to let out a howl here and there while using a dying rabbit call, because 9 times out of 10 if they howl back, they’re on the way, so get ready.
Watching for the incoming coyotes is an art in itself and sometimes they will really surprise you where they show up. When hunting alone it is often best to face downwind and have a clear field of view to the sides if the cover is fairly thick. If it is open country, facing toward the location you expect the coyotes to come from is best.
Of course, having a partner eliminates much of the guesswork because you can eyeball a lot more area. Keep in mind the advice that Socha offered, the shy ones like to circle downwind and they can be right in your lap before you know it if the cover is thick. Getting a coyote to howl before starting the calling sequence can also help you know where to look. If they howl back, you have the location pinpointed and you can guess the most likely incoming point.
Calling coyotes is not for the faint of heart. Seeing a major predator bearing down on you, coming in hard with bloodshed on his mind, is a real adrenaline rush. And when you pull the trigger and see him pile up, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you fooled him at his own game, not to mention a nice pelt to take home with you.
Expert Bottom Line Tips on Calling Coyotes:
- Coyotes patrol fencerows, so set a shooter up 50 to 70 yards upwind on a fence row, adjacent to woods, marsh, or thicket. The caller should set up a short ways beyond him. –Jake Socha
- Early in the season, the regular rabbit or fawn distress does the job. –Duane Fronek
- As the season progresses start with a howl before making distress calls. –Duane Fronek
- Later in the season when the breeding is taking off, offer a howl or two and then sit it out in silence for a half hour. –Duane Fronek
- A real dying rabbit doesn’t just repeat itself over and over with the same pitch and volume like you get out of electronic calls. Use a reed call and vary the pitch, volume and intensity. –Jake Socha
- Don’t be afraid to let out a howl here and there while you’re mimicking a dying rabbit. If you hear them howl back get ready, because 9 times out of 10 that means they’re on the way. –Jake Socha
About Bernie Barringer
Bernie Barringer hunts a variety of species in several states and Canadian provinces. He has published more than 400 articles in two dozen outdoor magazines and authored ten books on hunting, fishing and trapping. He is the managing editor of Bear Hunting Magazine, and blogs his hunts on his website www.bowhuntingroad.com.
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