Calling up and shooting a coyote—especially in the eastern United States—remains one of the most challenging hunts out there. But it doesn’t require much gear and since most landowners will gladly let you hunt coyotes (especially after deer season), it’s accessible. Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to hunt coyotes.
How to Hunt Coyotes: Scouting Tips
Coyotes don’t live everywhere, and you can’t call them in if they’re not there. As you’re learning how to hunt coyotes, focus on areas that hold small game, birds, mice, and vermin. CRP fields, brushy creeks or river bottoms, swamps and marshes, and young clear-cut edges are all excellent choices. Don’t be afraid to knock on farmhouse doors and ask. Pinpoint your spots by looking for tracks and listening for barks, yips, and howls at dawn and dusk.
The Best Time of Year for Coyote Hunting
Coyotes can be called in year-around, but late fall, when young adult males are establishing their own territories, is ideal. Late winter is a good time, too. Coyotes rut in January and February, so mixing coyote vocalizations with prey-in-distress sounds works well at that time. Cold, calm days are ideal for calling. Skip windy, warm days to wait for better conditions.
Stealth is the first priority if you’re serious about learning how to hunt coyotes: no slamming vehicle doors or talking above a whisper to your partner. Settle into a comfortable shooting position on a knoll or field edge that offers good visibility. You want to call into the wind or with a crosswind, and always keep a good downwind shooting lane. Coyotes will usually circle downwind of distress sounds. Keeping an obstacle at your back, like a creek or fence row, can help steer them into the best shooting lanes. Wait five to 15 minutes after setting up before calling.
Coyotes have extremely keen eyesight and, like any animal coming to a call, are looking hard for its source. Make sure your camo is good and that your hands and face are covered. A feather tied to a string from an overhanging limb can serve as a good decoy and visual distraction. Many modern electronic callers come with built-in decoys that are highly effective, too.
Most coyotes, if they’re around, respond quickly once you begin calling, but give each set at least 20 minutes to a half hour. If no coyotes come to your calls, sneak back out and drive to another area at least a half mile away, and repeat the process. You should be able to cover eight to 10 good spots in a day of hunting and odds are, if your setups are good, at least one of those spots will produce a shot.
Beginner Gear for Coyote Hunting
You don’t need much to start, and you may already have it. Here’s the gear you need for calling coyotes—and for punching your tag.
Mouth-operated rabbit squealers are a must, but don’t rely on them alone. Also use other distress calls and coyote howlers. Modern electronic callers like the Mojo Triple Threat come preloaded with more sounds than you can ever use, and can be operated with a remote from a distance, to keep the predator’s focus away from you.
The best calibers for coyotes are flat-shooting rifles in calibers like .204 Ruger, .223, .22-250, and .243 work great in open terrain, and they’re fur-friendly with the right bullets. But your deer rifle will do the trick, too, especially if you’re not worried about selling furs. Shotguns loaded with premium predator loads or No. 4 buckshot are perfect for hunting at night (where legal) or in thick timber.
As you learn how to hunt coyotes, you’ll soon realize that a good chair, like Millennium’s TU0200 Run N’ Gun Turkey Seat, is essential. It keeps your butt dry and warm on cold, snowy days. A Swagger Bipod gives you the support of good shooting sticks with the flexibility to swing your gun on a loping coyote.