Coyote Calling In The Wind --- Bring It On!
By Justin Shireman
Out here in western Oklahoma, the wind can sometimes be downright treacherous and this affects coyote calling tremendously. What more proof do you need other than the newly constructed wind farm consisting of about 45 power producing windmills along interstate 40 in the western half of the state. We all know wind is a killer for a planned day of coyote calling. All excitement for your coyote hunt can be washed away 30 minutes after sunup if that wind gets to howling ...louder than a coyote. You always try to tough it out until frustration takes over and you give up coyote calling for the day.
Most all of my first hand experience in coyote calling has come from the western half of Oklahoma. Now there have been some other coyote calling tips, techniques, and lessons learned from other geographic areas, but most of my coyote calling has been in the wind-blown, wide open pastures with a few scattered creeks and canyons. The majority of the time, we set up on little knolls or hills offsetting some good cover where we can see the coyotes coming. Throw some 15 mph wind into this equation, and the coyote calling results will change dramatically.
I have been taught and taught to never call coyotes with the wind at your back. “Their noses are too good”, “The coyotes will be long gone before you ever see them”. Well folks, sometimes this can be true about coyote calling, but I have to admit that sometimes it is not the case whatsoever. Picture a dreary coyote hunting day with temperatures in the 30’s and some off and on mist floating through the air but the wind is blowing about 17-20 mph. Don’t even go out and try calling; the coyote will never even hear you blowing that call; the wind will take the sound and distort your calling so bad that the coyote won’t even hear you.
Yeah right! That’s what I thought, too. Until after about 10-12 minutes I see a lone coyote bouncing over the hill. He eventually stopped about 75 yards out to analyze the situation (maybe a hint of a foreign smell?). The coyote never got to take another step. We had set up about 200 yards out of a wooded area where we knew coyotes lived. The wind was way too stiff to go to the other side and try to call against it, so we set up this way and it changed my thinking on coyote calling forever.
Now if you decide to make your coyote stand calling with the wind, you must be much more careful. This means parking further from the calling stand, being extra quiet, and probably not taking along more than one other person. Most coyotes are a touch more nervous in a stiff wind, it limits their abilities, and therefore they are a touch more suspicious. Coyotes can be fooled easier and this is what we need to use to our advantage. The theory is this: the coyote already knows that his smelling may be at a disadvantage, so he may not feel that urge to come out of his bed to expose himself in order to work around downwind to make sure that is a healthy meal.
By calling a coyote with the wind directly to him, you are reassuring him that everything is alright. Even though the coyote senses may be skewed, he still trusts that nose to bail him out. The coyote knows that if he comes out directly against the wind that he should be able to bail himself out of a jam. But with winds that are gusting, we have somewhat of an advantage over the coyote, our scent is scattered out and not as easy for the coyote to pick out and peg your whereabouts. Now you will probably notice that the coyotes coming in will not commit as easy, they will act somewhat nervous, because we are fooling them! Patience is a virtue when calling any coyote, but especially now. Don’t call too much, the coyotes know where you are, they are just making sure it is OK.
Of course close and far depends on the cover and what part of the country you are in, but if I have a coyote coming in against the wind, and he acts skittish out there at 150 yards, the 22-250 is sending him to the promise land. There is no cross wind to deal with as with other calling situations. Now back to the patience statement. Use this at your own discretion. If the coyote hangs up at 200 out and turns trotting back to the exact location he came from, I would consider this a suitable time to start blasting!
Consider the other scenario. The weather has been cold all week; no wind, a little snow and you’ve been at work just praying for the weekend to get here so you can go coyote hunting. Friday afternoon comes and the weather starts to break. By Saturday at lunch, the temps are in the 50-60 range and the wind is blowing 20 mph. Your hopes of calling a coyote in are shot, all you have to look forward to is the list of honey-do’s back at the house. Not so fast. Don’t go out and make 3 sets in the normal top of the hill, against the wind strategy, then get frustrated and go in. Ever think about taking the fight to the enemy? Maybe getting right in the spare bedroom of the coyote and disrupting his nap? Getting down in the creeks or canyons right along with him? By doing this, we are not allowing the wind to hurt us. Sure, it may shorten your effective range that you can reach, but by adjusting our routines slightly, it can pay off.
Remember, it is hot and windy. Doesn’t a good nap sound good about now to you? You can bet that is probably what ole Mr. Coyote is doing. You have to surprise him. If you are sneaky enough, he won’t have a clue why some rabbit is dying right in his living room. Try shortening up your stands and moving more often. Instead of the 20-25 minutes stand time, try only calling for 10 minutes. By calling in short spurts, you should have a response by any coyote that you may have snuck in on. Then move about 200 yards up the canyon to cover the next set of woods that your calls couldn’t reach from the last point. Continue this for the length of your particular setup, and you may be surprised. Of course, you may have to walk a mile back to the pickup when you are done, but who said coyote hunting was easy?
The only problem that I have found in this particular way of calling coyotes is the close quarters. These are the wide open prairies of Oklahoma, where you need the scope cranked up to about 12 power to ‘reach out and touch’ them. Not the case in this particular setup. Try the 12 gauge loaded with some old fashion 00 buck. I’ve also been known to carry the good ole lever action, open sighted, 22 mag for this scenario. Of course the bigger rifles will still work, you just have to leave that scope turned down on minimum power. You also never know when you may sneak in on a big old bobcat who is quite surprised to see as well. It has now become a close quarters battle so be prepared for anything as you enter.
We all know failure is inevitable in the world of coyote calling. The only sure way to fail on a windy day is to go to the house and complain about the miserable calling weather. Sometimes Mother Nature can be very cruel and may not want to concede to the plans you have made to be out in the woods calling for most of a Saturday. If she happens to throw you a curveball by huffing and puffing on the wind meter, maybe you won’t strike out after all. You never know, you may even learn to welcome a strong gusting wind every so often?
Justin was raised in western Oklahoma near the town of Elk City. He graduated college with a Biology degree and is now employed in the oil and gas industry. He is a devoted outdoorsman, enjoys hunting any kind of game, whether it be archery, shotgun, or rifle. Justin is also an avid shooter and reloader. When he is not out hunting, shooting, or fishing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter where they now reside, just south of Oklahoma City.