The formula is successful and simple: sneak in silently before sunrise, set-up and get comfortable, spot the dog, talk yourself through the shot and squeeze the trigger.
You may want to share this technique with trusted hunting partners that won’t think you’re crazy. On calm days and cool crystal clear mornings, tell your friends, “Leave the calls behind. Pass it along – let’s pass shoot.” I’ve hunted coyotes without the use of predator calls for the past four years, and there has been no shortage of shooting and plenty of success with this simple system.
6:45 a.m. Here comes one straight at me – range 350 yards and closing – wait until he crosses the creek and trots to the top of the knoll. Easy now, no quick movements, just drop the rangefinder into your lap and frame the dog in the scope. There he is –twist up the scope to 20x power and get a good look. Now wait, wait, okay stop him with a quick raspy mouth bark, “Ruff!”… BANG!
After a crisp, clean shot in the early light of dawn, a hunter’s first instinct is to go collect his pelt and inspect the prize, but I urge concealment – and don’t move. After the shot, wait about thirty seconds, ease the rifle down and press your field glasses back into service. Scan the distant hills, skylines, swales, and every nook and cranny for another dog. Remain hidden and continue to hunt. Don’t give yourself away to unseen coyotes that may be running at you because they don’t know where danger lurks.
Coyotes are constantly cruising the country and are very active just before and after dawn. Every six minutes, one of those four-legged track stars covers a mile at what appears a simple trot – more aptly, a dog jog. Coyotes are returning from kill sites, chasing other dogs out of their territory, checking their country, or looking for mates, depending on the time of year. Those critters are crisscrossing the countryside following invisible scent trails and their instincts to defend their territory. Their desire to propagate and secure calories sends their shadowy forms across hundreds of acres a day.
It’s a coyote’s on-the-go lifestyle that a hunter should use to his advantage. A pass shooting hunter taps into these character traits with patience and planning. Take advantage of their wandering and cunning – let the coyotes do all the work while you relax and hunt. Consider this: it’s a new hunt every six minutes, because the dog before you could have been over a mile away. There may be another dog behind that first one.
I only read a few print magazines these days. Western Hunter Magazine is one of them. It is unique in that its articles are about hunting only in the western states that I love and seem to be drawn to about 10 times per year!
I hunt in wide-open country with short grass and can often glass coyotes from over a mile. They remind me of bees returning to a hive and for some reason, usually keep to a straight line headed for some distant destination. If the dog is headed in my direction, I have a good minute or two to slowly pick the yardages of different landmarks with my rangefinder and ease into a shooting position. However, I take caution to not become bemused and narrowly focus on one dog because other coyotes can seemingly appear while the one I’m watching will disappear. No wonder they are also known as the Spirit Dog.
7:15 a.m. There’s another one. Range him – 480 yards, trotting right to left. He may pass that rock outcropping at… let me see – 275 yards. Good! Twist a little, slowly push over the shooting sticks and lie down, put your rifle on your pack and line up on the rocks – there, much better. Back to the binoculars, now where is he? There you are, still on line, set the binoculars down – prop the rifle up – slowly. Excellent, just like it’s supposed to go, put the cross hairs on the shoulder – steady – wait until he gets to the rock outcropping – WHAT was that flash that just blocked out the scope? Pick your head up and look over the rifle - coyote! Twenty yards - stop him – “Ruff!” Frozen in time, that’s right, I’m over here somewhere – BANG! He’s down, now back to the other dog, where did he go? There, standing on the outcropping – aim… BANG...