Vegetation affects your ability to see approaching coyotes. A friend of mine prefers to be surprised when the coyote shows up. He says that seeing coyotes too far in advance allows his nerves get the best of him! To each his own. I want time to reposition myself for the shot and enough open area to be able to pick off a coyote before it gets the wind on me. When shotgunning in heavy brush, the “open” area may be only 20 or 30 yards. In more open desert it may be 250 yards but doesn’t have to be that far. Vegetation also determines the shade of clothing or camo you should choose. A dark green ghillie suit works great in the forest or against a backdrop of junipers but stands out like the proverbial sore thumb in sage or grease wood. Choose a shade that blends in whether camo or earth tones.
Weather factors influencing stand set-up include the wind and cloud cover. My primary rule regarding the wind is that I want to be able to see the downwind. If there is one thing that will make a better predator hunter and result in fewer educated coyotes it’s Titus’ Rule. Titus’ Rule is “Make ‘em show themselves if they want the downwind.” The distance a hunter needs to see downwind decreases with the density of the vegetation. In other words tighter cover requires less downwind view. It isn’t necessary to face downwind just be sure it can be monitored regularly. Lack of a downwind view will educate coyotes. Period. Not all coyotes will circle downwind but many will especially if they’ve been called before.
The use of coyote vocalizations, especially howls, results in more coyotes moving downwind. The coyotes are attempting to identify the animal they heard—sort of a long distance butt sniffing if you will. Dominant animals are less likely to feel the need to circle than more subordinate coyotes. Coyote pairs also seem to be bolder in approaching howls. The backup of the second coyote gives them more confidence. Bobcats rarely use scent and wind is not a factor when targeting them but coyotes rely heavily on their nose. Don’t underestimate it.
Sunshine may be your friend or your enemy depending on what direction it’s coming from. If you’ve ever forgotten your cap and attempted to hunt into the sun, you realize what an advantage having the sun behind you can be. When a coyote is looking into the glare, it is a much harder to see a hunter. The sun also illuminates approaching coyotes making them easier to spot.
On the other hand, sitting in direct sunlight will accentuate your movements and cause the shine of optics or uncovered bright finishes on your firearms and equipment. Set up in the shade whenever possible. Overcast days make it harder for coyotes to see you and pick up movement but you also won’t have the advantage of having the sun in their eyes. If you have to make your stand in direct sunlight, move slower and more deliberately and use a face mask, gloves and camo on your firearm to reduce the chances of an in-coming predator seeing you.
Set-ups in direct sunlight make electronic calls and motion decoys advantageous. Coyotes have a tremendous ability to zero in on the exact location of the sound. I learned this lesson on the first coyote I called in and killed.
Setting up at the end of an old log in a pine forest, I made two series on my old Weems Wildcall. (I know I’m dating myself with that information!) A coyote came around the log in front of me about ten yards away. I stayed motionless until he went past me no more than ten feet to my right. I pivoted on the log to take a shot. The coyote went only ten yards past me before stopping knowing the rabbit should be close. Coyotes have an uncanny ability to pinpoint the origin of sounds. Moving the sound away from you and distracting their attention will give you an advantage.
If hunting with a partner, one hunter setting up downwind of the caller will take advantage of the coyote’s tendency to swing that direction. As mentioned earlier, when setting up together, make sure one person can see the downwind. We rarely sit back to back but in flat areas with dense vegetation such as southern forests, this tactic can be effective.
You can’t always pick and choose the best weather or area to hunt and the best day to go coyote hunting is the day you can. Set up according to the hand dealt you and make the most of your opportunity.
Tim Titus has been calling coyotes for 35 years. He lives in the coyote rich country of Southeast Oregon where he and his son spend their winters calling predators and their springs and early summers shooting varmints. Tim owns and operates No Off Season, an on-line predator and varmint hunting store and guiding business. You can check it out at No-Off-Season.com.
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