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“Mooning” Coyotes on the Nightshift

“Mooning” Coyotes on the Nightshift

By Eric Ketterer

My hunting partner, Tom Haas, and I had been waiting all year (as we do every year) for an opportunity to night hunt coyotes by a full moon in the winter. To do so usually requires a cloudless sky and little or no wind and, of course, a full moon or near to it. And for those who do not hunt in the state of North Dakota, the odds of that happening on the same day are slightly worse than winning the Mega millions lottery or taking a selfie with Bigfoot. But to our luck, the stars aligned and it happened the first weekend in December of 2014.

Mooning Coyotes on the Nightshift

We geared up after dinner at the farm at about 6:30 pm and headed out to our first spot. The temperature was about 15 below zero and wind was out of the NW at 2-3mph. Moon rise that day was just before 5:00 pm, which meant we had plenty of shooting light by the time we set up our first stand. We decided to start out on a large slough about 3 miles from the farm. Being careful to approach the lake undetected, we walked in from about 250 yards down an abandoned road and positioned ourselves on the edge of the ice in the snow. I was excited to situate our new FoxPro Shockwave (that we paid for with fur money earned last year with my old first gen fox pro 452B analog which is now my back up call) out front and 50 yards to the left.

I started with a lone howl, then sat for about 3 minutes all quiet, then cued up “lightning jack” on low volume and we were off. About 2-3 minutes straight of “lightning jack” I stopped calling and sat quiet for a minute, then started the call back up a bit louder and ran it for about 10 minutes. About then, I thought I saw a pair of song dogs milling around on the other end of the lake. They looked very small on 6 power so I guessed they were about 400 yards away. They were still hard to see through my Mark AR scope that far in the full moon, so I lifted my Swarovski binoculars and it was confirmed, no doubt about it – coyotes! They just weren’t coming in hard yet.

I took the opportunity to switch calls to “pup in distress”. I pressed the button, and instantly both coyotes stopped in their tracks and looked our way. They took a second to acquire the position of the sound, and it was on! Here they come. I whispered to Tom and pointed out the direction of our quarry as he slowly repositioned and prepared to defend himself. It took the coyotes about two minutes to come into range, as they had stopped a few times to look at another four coyotes responding to our call - another four coyotes that we hadn’t seen yet.
At this point we were enjoying probably the best 18 minutes of our calling careers thanks to the weather. All at once we had six song dogs from 60 yards to about 100 yards out, and bearing down on us fast. We kept perfectly still until the coyote closest to the call stopped and looked around, likely smelling our dirty trap. It turned out to be the last trap he ever smelled as Tom’s .223 rang out in the darkness with deadly precision.

“BANG…WHOP!” To those who don’t know, that’s the greatest sound of all – a confirmed hit. Soon after the first shot rang out, “BANG…WHOP!” was heard as my AR15 connected with a second dog. At that point there was a mad scramble of song dogs as two more shots rang out at running dogs, with neither connecting. As we got up to go collect the downed coyotes, Tom saw one of the coyotes standing out on the lake after all of the shooting and the Foxpro was still playing “pup in distress.” The poor confused coyote was standing broadside about 150 yards out looking at the two newly dead coyotes.

I saw the flash of Tom’s rifle muzzle, and that song dog’s troubles were over, as his lifeless body hit the snow. All told, six or seven coyotes came in and when the shooting stopped 3 lay dead. We loaded up our coyotes and sat in amazement in the pickup after what just happened. We were almost speechless (a somewhat of a rare occasion between us two) as we made our way to the next stand roughly 4 miles away.

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