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A Day of Firsts

 
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:24 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Boise, Idaho
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A Day of Firsts

I should preface this with the note that I consider myself to be fairly new to calling coyotes. I'm certainly no expert and apologize in advance for the length of this post.

Having spot and stalked coyotes as a kid I've learned how to pick them out of the terrain and where to usually look. I remember going out with a buddy when I was a kid and saying to him that I never saw any coyotes. He laughed and said he saw them all the time and agreed to take me out. I was amazed when we drove the same areas and one after another he pointed out coyotes that I couldn't see until he made me aware of them. But I digress. The point is that I started getting what I would call "serious" about coyote calling a couple years back. As I drove back and forth across southern Idaho scouting for other game or just driving from place to place I started noticing a lot of coyotes hanging around. It seemed like I was seeing them everywhere. I decided to give it a real go and started reading up and watching a lot of videos on YouTube. I bought a .204 with the main purpose of shooting coyotes and rock chucks. I went out and got the Primos calling pack with a couple hand calls and a free video. Graduated to a Foxpro. Bought a Mojo and built a custom tripod after realizing the stake sucks in the winter. Ha!!! Got a good ghillie top. Generally, I started collecting everything I saw "serious" coyote callers had in the various videos I was watching and articles I was reading. Yeah, my buddies and wife were pretty much shaking their heads at me.

Over the years I've called in a few but I wouldn't say that I've been super successful. I started by getting busted by coyotes on a regular basis that I could hear but never see. No doubt they were somewhere downwind sounding the alarm and laughing at me and all of my gear. I started learning as much as I could about proper set pups and started to inch towards success. I then proceeded to miss the first three coyotes that came to the call with my fancy ballistic reticle and range finder. I commented about this to a much wiser friend who said I was making things to difficult and needed to realize how flat and accurate the .204 was. Just center them up and shoot. I started hitting coyotes after that instead of missing them. Point is, I'll get a coyote here or there but it's not like I'm coming home with five or six in the back of the truck like see some guys doing.

One thing that I always see in videos and hear about is coyotes charging the decoy. It's something that has always excited me about coyote calling. I bought the Mojo mainly because of those stories and videos. I have hoped to have the same thing happen to me. I generally carry my shotgun in the field with me so I'm prepared for those hard chargers I see in those videos. I also went out and got some Dead Coyote rounds for when that time comes. As I frequently go hunting for coyotes by myself I bought an Eberlestock Mini Me which makes it fairly easy for me to pack all of my crap around with both the shotgun and rifle. Having been successful with the .204 I desperately want to see what I can do with the shotgun but unfortunately the opportunity has just never presented itself.

The other thing I've always seen and read about is multiple coyotes coming in on one stand. After successfully dropping coyotes I generally resist the urge to scream out my excitement and jump around doing the victory dance. I keep it inside and hit a pup whine or whimper trying to emulate a wounded coyote in hopes that another will jump out of the sage somewhere close by and join its mate/brother/sister I just got done putting to bed. That's what I've gleaned you are supposed to do anyways. After awhile I usually give up on the dream, collect my bounty and head back to the truck.

The other morning I decided that I'd try to see if I could call in a coyote before scouting for some goose hunting spots. I've been concentrating on pheasant and duck hunting for the past several months and hadn't really gotten a chance to go after coyotes that much this season.

I made several trips out to this same area last year and knew it held coyotes but I've never been able to get a shot at one. I've seen a few far away and have always gotten a few responses but just haven't been able to close the deal. I packed all my crap up the night before and set out in the morning in hopes of finally being able to get on a coyote this year as well as in this particular area. On multiple occasions I had been outsmarted on various sets I've done in the same vicinity.

The first set I decided to try was in close proximity to an old ranch. The sagebrush is really tall and it's extremely difficult to find a good spot to set up where you have a good view of your surroundings. It's also relatively flat with several deep washes from storm run off that you can't see unless you are right on top of them. The last time I tried to call coyotes in this spot a buddy and I had at least three of them around us within probably a hundred yards but we could never see them. After sitting there and trying to coax something out for close to an hour we got up and proceeded to hear the dreaded coyote threat bark. This time I decided to try and set up in a little opening I had found while quail hunting the same area earlier in the year. The wind was perfect, I set up the Mojo a little upwind and slightly crosswind of me and about 20 yards on the upwind side of my clearing. My thought was that I might get something to circle downwind and pop out in the clearing. I used a prey distress and immediately had some action. Only it was from a hard charging Swansons hawk that actually swooped down on the Mojo just realizing at the last minute that something wasn't right. It circled a few times and left the area. After about 20 minutes of a couple different prey distress sounds that have worked for me in the past I decided to let out a howl or two. I was immediately rewarded with responses from several different coyotes all of which were in the immediate vicinity (this is what I love about calling coyotes, I almost always hear something). One of the coyotes sounded like it was within a few hundred yards. I went back to the prey sounds and cycled through a couple more with no luck. After about another 20 mins I let out a couple more coyote vocalizations but this time I got no response. I decided to pack it in and move down the road a bit.

My second set was in a much better area for viewing incoming targets. It's at the juncture of three different draws and there tall sage brush patches surrounded by barren ground. Everything was good except the sun was in my face. Unfortunately I couldn't have both the sun and wind in the right direction and I would need to cross a lot of open country to get the sun right so I just set up into the sun knowing I needed to sit really still. It snowed about a week ago and there was still a good 4 or 5 inches on the ground. You could clearly see paths of coyotes all over the area as well as a million rabbit tracks. I opened with prey distress sounds and waited without any buyers coming to market. After 30 minutes I tried a coyote vocalization and got a response but it was way out there. I went back to prey distress but after another 10 minutes I decided to get up and move down one of the draws. I did two more stands about a half mile apart without any luck.

I guess here is a good time to note that I had intended to try and cover more terrain on foot than I normally do. Having lugged the shotgun around without ever getting a chance to use it in the past I decided to leave the extra weight at home.

By this time it was close to noon and I was contemplating giving up on coyote hunting for the day and seeing if I could find some fields where the geese were landing. I decided that I'd take a side road I've driven many times that skirts around the farmland and hugs the foothills. I thought maybe I could catch a glimpse of something while driving around. After driving down the road for several miles I second guessed myself and decided to try another calling another spot from the previous year.

On two separate occasions last season I'd gone into this spot with no luck. Both times the wind was going the wrong direction. On one occasion me and a friend got a coyote to respond and actually saw him between 800-1,000 yards. We called back and forth to this coyote for close to an hour. It just sat there responding but never moving. We threw just about every sound at it before it finally gave up and trotted away from us in the other direction. After accepting defeat we scouted and found several better vantage points to set up from with the note that next time we'd set up differently.

I decided to make this my last stand of the day. This particular calling spot runs along a two track road that runs between cattle watering holes. Instead of driving in and parking the truck where I typically would I chose to stop well short of where I normally do making my walk in a lot farther than when I previously tried the spot. I walked along the road for about 1/4 - 1/2 mile and then set off through the sage brush. As I neared the set I realized the wind was once again wrong. It had also picked up a bit since the morning and was blowing probably 5-7 mph in the direction I was walking. I decided just to keep going rather than turn around. As I neared where I wanted to set up I heard a couple howls off in the distance. I was fairly certain I'd been busted but figured I'd give it a try anyways. I walked down a shallow draw which runs perpendicular to the rim I wanted to set up on. My plan was to sit just below the rim and try and find a finger which stuck out where I'd have a good view out in front of me and to the sides. I placed the Mojo decoy and my Foxpro below where I planned to sit on a slight rise so that an incoming coyote would be able to see the motion from some distance. I crawled back up to where I planned to sit about 30-40 yards away from the decoy and caller.

As I started to set up my rifle and position myself I realized my vision was limited a little on my left by another finger coming off the rim I was sitting on. This finger was crosswind from me and roughly 60 yards away. No big deal though, I could still see everything out in front of me a good ways away. Problem was the wind was at my back and the caller and decoy were downwind of me. The closest coyote I had heard was off to my right side so I set myself up so that I wouldn't have to move when something came from that direction. As the wind was at my back I was fairly certain that any coyote would come from my right and I had a good view and lots of room to see them.

After a few minutes of patiently waiting I opened up the sequence with a rodent distress at low volume in case there happened to be something nearby. While I was being careful not to fidget around I was looking down at the Foxpro control to make sure my fingers were positioned on the volume control buttons so that I could gradually increase the volume when something didn't show up. This was about 1 min 30 sec into the set. I looked up from the controller and to my surprise there was a coyote standing directly to my left on the finger that blocked my vision not 60 yards from me. The Mojo did it's job and the coyotes gaze was locked onto the decoy. I froze not wanting to move the rifle until the coyote started moving. A second later he started trotting towards the decoy fully committed. I adjusted the legs of my bipod and put the crosshairs on the coyote which all but filled up the scope. I realized the coyote was covering ground fairly fast and knew my chances of killing this thing were a lot higher if I got a shot off before it got to the Mojo and my downwind scent. Again there was less than 60 yards between where the coyote appeared and the decoy so this is all happening in a few short seconds. I let out a bark but the coyote didn't stop. I said to myself "it's now or never" and touched off a round just as the coyote reached the decoy. I missed at like 30 yards but to my defense the coyote was moving pretty fast and was way to close for the 6x scope to be much good.

At the crack of the .204 the coyote kicked it into high gear and headed away from me slightly angling to my right. I quickly racked the bolt and chambered another round while keeping the coyote in the scope. Just as the crosshairs passed his body I touched off a second round. The thump of the .204 hitting an animal is very distinctive and I've yet to question whether or not a round has found it's mark. To my surprise as I touched off the second round that familiar thump sounded a direct hit and the coyote plowed into the ground in a heap.

I quickly gathered my composure and hit the preset I have for a wounded coyote and hoped that something else would soon follow. As the Foxpro belted out the sounds of victory I scanned the sage looking for any movement I could pick up on. No lucků After about 5 minutes I decided I would switch back to the prey sound that I opened up the set with. When I hit the mute button instead of prey distress I got a female challenge bark from one of my presets. I quickly cut off the caller but figured the damage was done. As I fumbled with the remote to my surprise a coyote somewhere in the open sage directly in front of me started barking away. I thought to myself "holy hell I might actually get my first double." The barking coyote sounded several hundred yards away but should have been well within sight of my position. I switched to prey distress for several minutes. The coyote out in the sage kept barking while the distress was blaring away. After 3 minutes of listening to this coyote and not being able to find him I switched back to the challenge call for a minute and then back to the distress again. By this time the coyote stopped barking and I focused intensely from the direction of its sound almost directly downwind of me. I was willing this coyote to jump out and test my much boosted ego from that running shot just a few short minutes ago. Staring at the sagebrush, waiting, watching. Gotta force myself to blink as my contacts are starting to dry out. Just then I catch movement off to my right. Somehow either that barking coyote or possibly another one had closed the distance and was now just 50-70 yards away quickly running upwind just to my right. I'm not sure if it saw me or smelled me, possibly both but it was making a run for it. I quickly positioned my shooting sticks 90 degrees from where I had been looking towards this blur of fur quickly disappearing from sight. I actually had to collapse the legs on my shooting sticks so I could get on my knees and see over the rise that this coyote was quickly going to disappear into. Inexplicably instead of heading in the same direction it decided to veer off directly away from me. I settled in a little bit knowing I still had a chance to close the deal, after all I had just made an amazing running shot on a coyote just a bit ago. Ha!!! I got as good of a rest as I was going to get and while the coyote headed away and up a slight incline at roughly 210 yards I let out the loudest bark I could muster while still looking through the scope. The runner came to a full stop turning broadside to see what the hell kind of sagebrush Sasquatch had just belted out a bark. I quickly touched off my third round. Once again the sweet thump of glory rang out.

Thinking back I probably should have kept calling to see if anything else would come in but I decided I had enough excitement for the day and gathered up my gear and coyotes.

I had my first hard charging coyote make a run at the decoy. I hit my first coyote on the run. Lastly, I had my first double. What an awesome feeling!!! Just wished I had brought the shotgun along. I should have been able to bounce both of these coyotes with the shotgun and I would have been posting about my first coyote kill with a shotgun.

A buddy of mine from Washington made me promise I'd send him a picture of a coyote behind the scope of a rifle, thus the second picture.



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Old 12-21-2013, 09:38 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
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Re: A Day of Firsts

It seems to me that you, as with me, are hunting coyotes that are not new to the game, except possibly where you got the double.

Around 4B country they are pretty much continuously bothered. I purchased an ELR rifle as they hang up at a average of 620 yards and either bark or simply watch.

It seems you are doing well with your Foxpro.

Good going.
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:44 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Boise, Idaho
Posts: 28
Re: A Day of Firsts

Quote:
Originally Posted by royinidaho View Post
It seems to me that you, as with me, are hunting coyotes that are not new to the game, except possibly where you got the double.

Around 4B country they are pretty much continuously bothered. I purchased an ELR rifle as they hang up at a average of 620 yards and either bark or simply watch.

It seems you are doing well with your Foxpro.

Good going.
a couple years back when i was scouting for antelope in 5B i had a rancher swear to me that coyotes and antelope could tell when someone had a gun on them. he said he could be riding around on a four wheeler and the antelope and coyotes wouldn't give him a second look but the minute he strapped a gun onto the four wheeler the antelope quickly exited the field. HA!!!
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:45 PM
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Re: A Day of Firsts

Thanks for the ride-along, Hynes. The learning curve is steep and, as Roy said, the ones that know the game become almost impossible to call. Sounds like you've got a good Honey Hole. "All you have to do" is kill every one that shows up and it'll stay good! Congrats on the firsts.
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