The cagey coyotes where I hunt are conditioned that predator calls equal rifle shots. I watched two hunters from a couple thousand yards one winter day from my favorite rock blind. Through my eight-power Swarovski’s, the scene was crystal clear and I could have called the play-by-play before they ever blew their call.
The coyote was about 600 yards out from them loping along, running into the wind, and checking the air. One of the hunters gave a great 10-second performance on a raspy rabbit call. The coyote was out of their field of vision, hidden by a small rolling hill. That coyote looked towards the hunters without seeing them, and ran directly away from their position, hitting Mach II before the next series of calls began. I watched from afar as their hunt went from prospective to unproductive due to a great call. Blowing a predator call is like sounding a warning bark in my neck of the woods.
The time of the year can dramatically improve the shooting. Sure you’ll pick-up an occasional young pup with a good predator calling technique in late summer, but for the most part, sitting silently and stealthy has proven very successful. I haven’t killed a coyote using a call in over four years and seldom do I go hunting and not get a shot opportunity. One fateful January morning, 24 coyotes ran past my concealed sniper station, all within 800 yards – I actually ran out of ammunition! Another morning, I plowed three coyotes wirhin as many minutes running on what seemed the same invisible path on a frost covered morning. Each dog stopped in its tracks when I barked a loud, “Ruff!” with my mouth. They were all piled up within a 40- yard circle by the time I was done.
Quite frankly there are a lot of coyotes in the foothill belt of the Sierras. All a hunter really needs to do is have a little patience and do the necessary scouting for trails, and scat – using a locater howl before dawn doesn’t hurt to boost moral if you’re new to venturing out without a call.
Sometimes the hunt isn’t one sided. I took my cousin, Reid, on his first coyote hunt a couple years ago. He fell asleep in the glow of morning and when he awoke he found a coyote standing on a rock twenty yards in front of him. He made the shot and the coyote fell into a ditch. Reid jumped in after the dog and poked it with a limp blade of grass to ensure the animal was dead. Seeing no reaction from the dog, Reid calculated he had successfully killed his first coyote. Waist deep in the ditch, Reid grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and above the tail and swung it back and forth a couple times to get enough momentum to heave the dog to level land while counting, “One, two …” and on three the coyote decided it would take a bite out of Reid. I guess the limp grass technique failed. Reid promptly recovered his rifle and dispatched the dog for good. The nimrod went to the emergency room, while the dog went to animal control for testing. A clean bill of former health was issued on the dog, and Reid’s stitches were out in a couple weeks. The doctor asked Reid if the attack was provoked and Reid nodded in the affirmative.
7:16 a.m. I racked the bolt and peered at the outcropping through the 6.5-20x. I could see the dog running straight away from me – missed – I hurried the shot – can’t do that! That’s okay, there’ll be another.
Comfort is important when sitting for a long time. I use an old pair of waders from the previous season’s duck hunting. I cut the rubber boots off so my rear end stays warm and dry, and the small rocks and briars are no longer an issue. I use a balaclava, as it keeps my ears warm and covers my cheeks. Because I wear glasses, face covers can be a problem if my mouth and nose get covered - my glasses fog up in a hurry. I prefer mitten gloves, the type that allow the mitten portion to fold back, leaving all of the fingers free to dial binoculars and feel the trigger. I toss a little hand warmer in each mitten on cold mornings.
Concealment is made easier with great camouflage. A couple weeks ago I picked up an $80 Ghillie suit. I was a little afraid that I might be stepping into the fanatic stage of coyote hunting when I purchased the suit – until I saw a few pictures taken in the field. Wow, I’m sold on the Ghillie gear. I’ve only been wearing the top and hood, no need in my environment to put on the pants. When the Ghillie suit is used with my conventional camouflage, I nearly disappear on the prairie. Blending the outline of my body with rock outcroppings using various and blended camouflage patterns has helped keep me hidden from the cautious eye of the coyote, but fooling their nose is far more difficult. If they get downwind of me I’m usually busted.