As the screams drifted across the sage, my eyes scanned continually and my head was on a swivel, knowing a coyote could appear at any moment. The earlier I detected him the more time I’d have to plan my final play. Would he end up in the truck or wiser and warier than when he arrived? In short, could I seal the deal or not? There. Was that light gray spot there when we sat down? I watch without raising my binoculars. There’s a movement. Now he’s working his way through the sage again. My partner this day is a longtime friend but a brand new predator hunter and we’re set up together on opposite sides of the sage. My quiet attempts at getting him on the coyote were falling on partially deaf ears from too many years running a Skil saw. Before long, “One o’clock” gets through and he’s on the coyote also.
My friend is shooting one of my rifles and I‘m confident the rifle and load are up to the task. The coyote clears the sage onto an open flat at less than 200 yards. He’s responding carefully with stop and go progress. I tell my partner to take him when he stops the next time. A moment later the coyote stops and he sends it knocking the coyote down but a second later he’s up circling then he’s moving off at a slow, struggling run. Coyotes are tough and I hate to lose any to a bad shot. When my friend can’t get back on him, I took one shot and a moment later the AR barks again and the coyote is on the ground for good.
When the approach is right, the set-up is effective and the calling works, it’s all for naught if you can’t seal the deal. The set-up is the key to allowing you opportunity to see responding coyotes. What happens after you see the coyote will determine whether the coyote ends up in the fur shed or at the graduation ceremony receiving its diploma which it will proudly display at the next encounter with a predator caller. We are fortunate this day that the coyote is down. Should I have let it play out longer? Probably. But, a shot at a standing coyote at 170 yards is a much better bet than a running coyote at half that distance. Taking an approaching coyote allows for a more relaxed shot than hurrying or feeling the pressure that comes when a coyote is leaving the stand.
Many things play into the ability to seal the deal. The coyote’s mindset, the gun, load and equipment, the shooter’s skill and experience as well as the ability to read the coyote body language all play into the moment of truth. In an earlier article I related a sad statistic from one of our first calling seasons. We called nineteen coyotes that year and killed only three of them. The school of hard knocks is pretty brutal sometimes—primarily on your ego. The learning curve is steep but there are things a hunter can do to shorten the curve. I hope the information here will help whether you’ve been at the game for a while or are new to predator hunting.