Multiple Coyote Calling
By Albert Pilling
There was about 45 minutes of daylight left when my partner and I settled in to try and call in a coyote or two. We were situated halfway up the west bank of a small creek with the sun behind us. The area in front of us was the frozen creek about 20 yards wide and a large empty flat gently tapering up to the surrounding plains, giving 600 yards of visibility.
I started off with a couple of lone howls. After a short period of time the sound of Johnny Stewart’s super jack filled the air. Thirty seconds later a coyote comes boiling over the creek bank behind his, passing within 20 yards of my partner and me. As soon as the coyote hits the frozen ice boom my partner’s rifle goes off – boom! - again, I fire a round at the fleeing coyote. My partner Floyd takes another before the coyote disappears around the bend in the creek.
What to do now? We have fired 4 rounds from our 22-250’s and have no coyote to show for it. The truck is too far away to get to to find another stand and make another attempt to kill Wiley before it gets dark. It’s quickly decided we might as well stay where we are. There was no way to make another stand.
I gave another lone howl and waited. To our surprise a group of coyotes answered to the north. After a brief wait the sound of super jack again fills the air. After 3 or 4 minutes I whisper to Floyd, "There’s one." Up there on the opposite band 6-700 yards away, but coming hard. The coyote disappears behind a low spot; I stare intently in the distance hoping to see the charging coyote.
Boom! Floyd's rifle goes off. Startled, I quickly turn my head and see a coyote flopping 80 yards away on the frozen ice. I also see another coyote turn and disappear over the river bank to the north of us. I immediately start doing my best imitation of a wounded coyote. I then briefly turned up the volume on our tape machine and continued to let the sound of super jack fill the air. After 15 seconds or so I returned the machine to its normal volume.
After a few minutes wait Floyd whispers, "There’s another one." We let it approach. Boom! Floyd drops it at 70 yards. We’re happy and amazed. Two coyotes down after missing one four times at the very start of the stand.
We decide just to enjoy the moment, it’s a beautiful day. I give out another lone howl and sit back to enjoy our success. Floyd and I discuss the day’s events; we still have 20 minutes until it gets dark. The sound of super jack provides an appropriate background. "There’s another one," says Floyd. I look over and see a coyote coming around a bend in the river. 10 seconds later, boom! The third coyote is lying on the ice. What a way to end the day!
Wow!!! This was the first time we had ever killed more than two coyotes on a stand, and the way it happened made a big impression on me and is one of my favorite memories. This happened over ten years ago and I have since learned to kill multiple coyotes on a relatively frequent basis.
It just kills me when I watch a video or TV show where the participant starts whooping and hollering after they have killed a coyote. They are really missing out on an opportunity to harvest some more animals. I personally believe that you have a better chance of killing another coyote on that stand than you would if you move to another location. Only a few coyotes are loners.
I prefer to hunt with a partner. It adds a lot of enjoyment, plus I feel that if one does the calling and the other concentrates on shooting, you will kill significantly more coyotes. Alternate assignments on stands if you want. Experience tells me that focusing on one task at a time will pay dividends. When hunting with a partner I prefer to be within earshot. Communication is a big help and it’s surprising how much you can talk if you keep your voice down.
I use both mouth and electronic calls. I lean heavily on the electronics with remote controls. I feel that the advantage of having the sound away from your position will allow you to kill more coyotes. I will also admit that some of the sounds available on e-callers are hard to duplicate with mouth calls.
I feel a good place to start is with two coyotes. How do you kill two coyotes? I handle a pair of coyotes different than you would two singles. There are several ways to handle a pair of coyotes but what I prefer to do is wait until they are about a hundred yards away and then try and shoot the least aggressive one first. Usually that’s the one that is the furthest away. I will then howl as soon as possible in an attempt to get the other on to stop.
I feel that the sooner you make a sound after a shot the better your chances of stopping the coyote. Don’t be scared to howl a half dozen times if necessary. I am very reluctant to take a running shot at a coyote and feel that I have a better chance of killing a standing coyote at three hundred yards than a running coyote at 100. Get ready if the coyote is approaching the bush; lots of times they will pause for a last look before darting in.
If hunting with a partner, the best way to kill a pair of coyotes is for both hunters to shoot at the same time. In order to do this, you must be able to communicate with your buddy. One counts to three and both shoot on three. The person doing the counting must be aware of what both coyotes are doing. With practice it is possible to shoot when both coyotes are standing still. My good friend Rob and I have done this for several years. I would estimate that our success rate is over 80% using this method.
With single coyotes there are several things that I like to do. If I have howled and had a vocal response from more than one coyote, how I call and shoot will be slightly different than if I had a single or no response. In the case of a single or no response I will handle the stand very similar to what I feel is commonly discussed in magazine articles and on the internet.
The case of a multiple response is where I feel that I change things up a little. I will try and kill the first coyote in as soon as possible. I want this coyote to be shot so that when it falls its on my side of any knoll or hill. I don’t want it to be approached by another coyote without me seeing. I feel that the sooner you shoot this coyote the less likely your shot(s) will impact any other coyotes that maybe approaching.
I prefer to howl after the first coyote rather than the traditional pup distress sound. I have good success with howling and want to save the traditional pup distress sound for the third and fourth coyotes that may come in.
As a matter of fact, if I have been silent for a while I may just call as loudly possible on the same distress sound that I originally used to lure the first one in.
If I have chosen to howl I will give two or three howls. I then return to the prey sound that was already in use.
If I have one coyote down and have been on the stand for 8-10 minutes I will often change my primary sound. I will usually start the stand with a prey sound and at this point I often change it up to pup whines (not the kiyi's), fox distress or maybe a woodpecker. I like to change it up a bit, but give them something that I think most coyotes would be able to handle.
I have had lots of coyotes come in on this change and feel that it really helps. It doesn'
t take a coyote very long to cover a mile. The change may interest a coyote that wasn’t previously interested. Quite often I will howl a couple howls just before changing sounds.
After howling often you get vocal responses from coyotes that you previously didn’t know were there.
After you have a couple of coyotes down I feel that it is a good idea to change howlers. Make it sound like another coyote has entered the mix. I try not to get too aggressive too soon and prefer higher pitched medium length howls. It is also a good time to start using the kiyi's. I have been known to use a mouth call to kiyi while playing a prey sound at this time.
I try and give the impression that a young coyote is struggling with its prey or a couple of pups are fighting over some food. And sometimes I’m not sure what I'm trying to do. I just like to get something going. Lots of times you get nothing to happen. Other times I have been faced with some real chargers. I guess they want a piece of the action.
It is at this time that a lot of the really big dogs will show up howling and kicking dirt, displaying dominance.
I guess that I'm one of those kitchen sink callers. If I know that there are still coyotes around I'll try everything that I have to get them all. I have often wondered if this strategy hurts me in the long run but as I cover a lot of country it hasn't seemed to yet.
Another scenario is, we have been on the stand for say 30 minutes and killed a couple of coyotes. We know that there are other coyotes nearby but haven't been able to get them to commit. Maybe we have seen these coyotes or can hear them. Sometimes both of us will get on the howlers and start kiyiing and challenging each other. I say sometimes because this has also scared away coyotes.
One February a couple years ago my hunting partner Rob and I quit a stand after 45 minutes using this tactic. We left because Rob had run out of bullets and I was down to my last one.
A couple of years ago another experienced caller and I were talking about coyote when he declared that he personally had never killed more than two coyotes on a stand. "What do you do to get these other coyotes?" Robby asked me. I thought for a few minutes and replied, "Don’t stop calling." This, I believe, is good advice. I know of a very successful team that always automatically call for 10 minutes after killing a coyote, no matter how long they have already called.
Another key to harvesting multiple coyotes to be able to shoot well. A good range finder and a rifle that shoots well can usually help you pick up a few extra coyotes throughout the season. A friend of mine recently killed five coyotes on one stand. He shot one at 378 yards and another at 535. The rest were closer. Being good with a rifle is a definite plus.
Time of year can also be a factor. I am convinced that October is the month that you mostly are able to harvest 3 or more animals on a stand. The pups have left the family group for the most part, but still remain in the vicinity of their parents.
It takes a lot of time in the field to get the experience needed to consistently harvest multiple coyotes. I remember in one of the coyote videos I watched, Ed Sceery was giving instruction on how to become a better coyote caller. In this video Ed claimed that one of the most important elements in becoming a good caller was to "be a diehard. Don’t give up. Keep trying.” I also believe that being a diehard is very important if you want to achieve consistent success.
I leave you with a description of a real stand and what I did to kill four coyotes.
I start by walking out into a pasture I had called at this location before. The ground is littered with coyote tracks. I'm fairly confident that I will get more than one. It is December 20th. I place my e-caller on a fence post in the open but close to the edge of a slough.
I then place myself 70 yards crosswind of the caller, preventing my scent from going directly into some cover which was directly downwind of the caller. I'm thinking that the coyotes will come from out of a large patch of brush directly upwind from the caller. Am I wrong!
I start off with my old standby rabbit distress. One minute into the stand a coyote comes out of the cover downwind of the caller. I carefully shift my position so I can get the coyote in my sights. I mute the caller and wait for the coyote to stop. As soon as the coyote stops I fire my rifle. Down it goes. As quickly as I can, I turn the caller back on and scream rabbit at full volume. After about ten seconds I turn the caller back down to a moderate level and wait for more coyotes to show. Two minutes later a second coyote appears in practically the same place as the first one. This one is a little more cautious than the first. I don’t have to do anything to get it to stop. I am ready, and down goes the second coyote.
I turn off the rabbit and give three lone howls. After a thirty second wait, I resume with rabbit sound. Five minutes later I see a coyote approaching from out of the large bush upwind of the call. It is about 400 yards away. As I'm trying to figure out what to do, another coyote approaches from directly out in front of me. I shut off the call and wait to see what happens. The upwind coyote stops in some tall grass about 250 yards out. The coyote directly across from me stops and sits on its rump. I am able to range it at 375 yards. I take a quick look at the closer coyote and see that it is partially obscured by cover. I decide to try for the coyote in the open and bear down on the coyote directly across from me. At the report of the rifle the coyote falls to the ground. I no longer can see the coyote that was upwind. I start kiyiing hoping the remaining coyote will come back for a look.
I wait briefly; I have been on the stand for a little less than ten minutes and have three coyotes down. Right on!! I decide it is time to play the fox in distress. After seven minutes of fox I shut the call off and give a couple lone howls. Nothing. I go back to my fox distress. Eighteen minutes into my stand I decide to pack up.
I go and get my call and start collecting the coyotes. As I approach the second coyote I hear a group yip howl from the south, which was the direction from which the last coyote came. I quickly decide to resume my calling and place the e-call about fifty yards away from me in the direction that I heard the howls. I have moved the call approximately 200 yards closer to where I think these coyote are.
I feel that it is a good time to get a little aggressive and give a series of challenge howls. The coyotes that are yip howling go quiet. I wait about a minute and start playing a woodpecker distress. About three minutes later I spy the fifth coyote of the stand coming in. A short time later I shoot and kill my 4th coyote. I give a few coyote distress cries and continue on with the woodpecker. Thirty minutes from when I started, I finally shut it down and call it a stand. Besides it's almost dark.
What a great afternoon. I made three stands, called in eight coyotes, and killed seven. Some days it's just magic.