In most states coyotes are legal game 365 days a year. So, there’s no excuse not to get out and “put up” a few stands. If you are new to the calling game or just overwhelmed by all of the latest gadgets available, here’s a primer.
Predator calls come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are capable of making every sound known to man, give or take. The most common sounds used for predator calling are distress sounds of birds, rodents, and rabbits. A truly skilled predator hunter knows the language used by coyotes, and uses mimicry to fool wary “dogs” using their own verbal cues. All of these sounds can be made using mouth calls or an electronic caller.
Mouth calls are available in many forms: diaphragm, open-reed, closed-reed, and a few others—but these are the big three. The biggest advantage of mouth calls is that they are cheap; $10-$15 will get you started. Another advantage of mouth calls is the ability to control the sound and volume of the call, which provides the flexibility to work even the wariest dogs. The largest drawback of mouth calls is the movement and aerobic exercise needed to make the call sounds. A coyote will lock-in on the sound and even the slightest movement will send it scrambling back to where it came from. For this reason, mouth calls are better suited for hunting with a partner, placing the hunter ahead and to the side of the caller.
Electronic callers provide a set of advantages. The ability to place the speaker away from a motionless hunter’s position provides added concealment on stand, which is especially beneficial when hunting alone. Another benefit of the electronic call is the ability to have a library of sounds readily available. In fact, some callers allow multiple sounds to be played simultaneously, which is a huge advantage when attempting to fool a predator that survives day-to-day by chasing sounds.
Most electronic callers are expandable so that sounds can be added and deleted to match the hunter’s preference. The biggest drawback of electronic callers is their price. Simple electronic callers can be purchased for less than $100, but the best callers range from $150-$500+.
Regardless of the type of call you choose, there are a few basics to remember when it comes to successful coyote hunting. As with any hunting, it takes a little bit of scouting to home in on a population of “dogs;” find some fresh sign, and just really “get with it.” Be patient; stay on stand for 15 minutes at a minimum, and don’t be afraid to stay on stand as long as 45 minutes. Persistence pays; although first and last light may be the best time to catch a coyote on the prowl, stay at it all day to maximize your opportunities.
Popular coyote calibers include: .204, .222, .223, .22-250, and .243 for long range shots, and 20 and 12 gauge shotguns for “dogs” at close range. Don’t have one of these? No problem; look in your gun safe. By the graces of coyotes size and penchant for a wide variety of environments with corresponding behaviors, there’s probably something in your collection that will do the trick. Grab a gun, some calls and have some fun!