A few years ago I was fortunate to draw both an elk tag and a mule deer tag. I still-hunted within 35 yards of my four point buck while he fed on buck brush and I dropped my five point bull elk at 75 yards as he left a pine draw and moved onto a scab flat with his cows. Both animals were one shot kills dispatched with relative calm, yet both were exciting in their own way. But when the first coyote of the season came running to my calls, I nearly blew the whole thing as Coyote Fever gripped me!
When it all comes together: A nice coyote with the coyote carrier in place and ready to pack out.
What is it about those coyotes? Is it because the tables have been turned and we are now the hunted? I’m not sure but I know that the times I spend coyote calling are some of my favorite times of the year. The thrill of seeing a coyote totally duped and charging to my calls is only surpassed by the old, wary male that we watched for what seemed like forever as he scanned the area watching for any sign of trouble before carefully coming to the call. It’s all good and we can do it all winter and even all summer if we choose. No tags. No seasons. No bag limits. This is paradise!
Many articles have been written concerning rifles and loads, calls and callers and techniques for hunting coyotes. But what about the other stuff? What about the rest of the gear that goes along with the sport? Coyote hunting can be as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. And the good news is a hunter can start at any point he likes.
Two camps exist when it comes to predator hunting gear: the Minimalists and the Gear Junkies. The Minimalists approach the sport with the attitude of “keep it simple” or “make do with what you have”. They pride themselves in spending as little as possible and using multipurpose gear from their other outdoor endeavors or gear that they make themselves. The more they can get done with the least expenditure, the happier they are. The Gear Junkie on the other hand, gets almost as much satisfaction from owning and using their gear as they do from actually taking the animal. But, make no mistake about it, any item that might add one more pelt to the truck gets serious consideration. Neither approach is better than the other, but each offers its adherents their own sense of satisfaction.
A rare coyote/bobcat double.
I personally fall soundly and unashamedly into the middle of the latter category. It’s a disease with no known cure and probably stems from a general case of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). I love gear. I research it. I test it. I add items and delete items. I upgrade items. If it has the potential to add fur to the shed, it goes with me. Some items go all the time while others are more specialized for specific conditions. It’s, well…an obsession. Some things increase my potential for success and others increase my comfort. Still others just add to the experience. Can you hunt predators successfully with a pair of blue jeans, a red plaid jacket, a deer rifle and a closed reed call? Absolutely! Many of us got into the game in exactly that way. But, oh, I like gear!
So, what about that gear? After calling predators on an occasional basis then getting away from it for a number of years, my youngest son, Ben, and I got bit by the bug and jumped in with both feet. (Can you say, “OCD”?) The very first stand we made together we called in a triple. Ben took his first coyote on that stand—a big, beautiful male--and I was able to pull off a snap shot on a second coyote as it bolted for the sage. After such a tremendous start, we then called in sixteen more coyotes that winter and killed only one of them! The learning curve is steep at times. We learned a lot about stand selection, playing the wind, and coyote vocalizations. But, we also started to learn about predator hunting gear.
We found that sitting comfortably helps you stay still long enough for the coyotes to show up. We learned that the desert provides very few natural rests and a coyote is not that big of a target once the fur comes off. We learned to “speak the language” and the calls it takes to get that done. We found more appropriate camo clothes that better matched our terrain. We learned that not all coyotes come into the MPBR of our rifles and if they don’t, one needs to know how far away they are to have a reasonable chance of getting its hide. We learned that even with the right caliber of rifle, some loads just tear the snot out of a coyote hide. (A topic for another article.) We found that getting coyotes back to the truck along with the other stuff we found “necessary” to tote along is not always easy. In short, we learned a lot about coyotes and started to see the benefit of some other gear to make the hunt more enjoyable and productive. Hopefully some of that experience will help others in their pursuit of Ol’ Wiley.