Coyote Calling Tips
Hunting with a Partner: One of the most overlooked items is the “pre-brief” and “stand procedures” rundown when hunting with a new hunter. Remember, everything you take for granted, the new guy may not be aware of. At a minimum you should discuss the following.
- Limit your noise, whisper when talking, etc
- Do a stand area rundown: Are there any hazards, potential human activity, livestock, equipment, buildings, or any areas to avoid shooting towards.
- Shooting etiquette: Who’s the primary shooter for the stand. Go over the fields or zones of fire.
- After the shot: No back flips or “rebel yells” after the first one hits the dirt – continue calling for the double or triple. Some rookies might not know that there is a possibility of another coyote showing up.
Article by Tom Austin: Partner Up To Kill More Predators.
Hide your vehicle: Make sure your vehicle will be out of sight to an approaching predator. Any sheen or reflection from a window, gloss paint, or chrome trim will quickly end a stand that could have been successful. Coyotes are laser focused looking for anything that will help them determine what all the ruckus is about.
Be quiet! Don’t drive through your stand. Do your best to limit the noise and scent around your stand. Don’t slam your door when you get out of the vehicle. Carry your gear so that it doesn’t clink together.
Article by Tom Austin: Hunting Coyotes With the Stealth Approach.
12″ Whisper: Use a whisper if you need to speak. Many hunters go out alone and have success, then when they bring a friend along their productivity declines. Stop talking so loud. Don’t speak unless you have to. Use simple head and hand gestures to communicate. Know before you go who is going to be setting up the call and decoy.
I can’t stress this enough! I recently called in a contest and I partnered up with two other hunters. I was misinformed that they were seasoned callers and so I took my chances by partnering up. To say I was shocked on the first stand when the driver slammed the door! I almost had a panic attack because I wasn’t used to that. The other two talked at normal volume for the entire hunt. Needless to say, we didn’t do very well. We were in a prime area, and it was miserable the whole time.
Limit Your Movement: Keep movement slow without quick gestures, like pointing at possible setup locations. You might as well get a white flag as if you’re trying to alert every animal within visible range.
Wind: Perhaps the most important thing to understand is where the wind is blowing. Coyotes use their nose as their primary source of investigation. They have a stronger sense of smell than a bloodhound! Watch your downwind, setup so you know where the wind is blowing.
I really like to use a wind checker like the picture I’ve posted here. These will tell you a lot about the subtle changes in the wind. It will make a visible pattern of the wind and this helps especially with a light breeze when it’s not as easy to detect. Well worth it to pack in the yote hunting bag.
Sun Direction: The sun at your back works in your favor (unless you’re sky-lined). Coyotes have a harder time spotting you while looking into the sun. If the sun is shining on your face, they’ll have an easier time seeing you, and it can present a challenge seeing them in the scope, especially on a clear winter morning when the sun is low. Use the sun in your favor if you can.
We like to start our day at the furthest southern spot we plan to call. Then we work to the north if we can. This allows us to call facing north, west, or east throughout the day. Starting in the north and working south will take away those north facing stands and limit you to east and west facing stands. The south will always present sun problems unless you get an overcast day. You can call facing into the sun, but it’s not ideal.
Article by Dustin Butler: Predator Hunting Pre-Stand Checklist.
Scent: You will get a variety of opinions on scents and covers. Some say you can’t hunt without using some odor eliminator, or scent cover. I tend to disagree. If you spray any scent on yourself you’ll probably smell like a human being with scent cover on them. A coyotes sense of smell is stronger than a cadaver dogs. Cadaver dogs can scent a body 10 feet underground. Think about all of the other elements that dog can smell before it pinpoints a dead body. Like I said, coyotes will smell every particle of your body scent covered with something else. Nonetheless, here are the products that my friends give me all the time.
Walking in to your stand: Follow each other to prevent multiple scent trails approaching your setup. Step quietly, and watch your step. If you break a twig, hold still for a moment before proceeding forward. Walk in the shadows!
Don’t skyline yourself! It’s easy to pick out the movement of a person or animal if the sky is the background. Try not to crest hills, go to the side. Move several yards down a hill as you maneuver to your stand location. Too many newbies walk to the top of a hill and then proceed to stand out like a sore thumb.
Setting up a Coyote Stand
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Stand Selection: Learning how to setup a coyote stand is based on a few simple guidelines. There are many elements to each stand that make EACH stand unique. Here are some factors to consider on how to set up a predator stand, it’s not complete, and every item does not always apply. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, because once you say “a coyote will always…” You’ll be fooled and find out you’re wrong!
Article by Dustin Butler: Selecting the Perfect Stand.
Elevation: It’s ideal to be higher up looking over terrain below. Coyotes tend to use elevation to their advantage too, common sense knows you can see better from a higher point of view. Try to avoid setup to where the animal is coming down to you. It’s easier for you to see up higher, and it’s easier fro them to see you too. Remember no hard and fast rules, just guidelines to improve your chances. Not every stand is going to be perfectly suited to call.
Wind: Check the wind direction before your final setup. It can change between the time you checked at the truck, and now that you’ve reached your call position. Grab a bit of dirt, or use a wind checker to know the breeze. When the breeze is not very noticeable, that’s when it’s probably going the direction you didn’t think about. Coyotes tend to arrive downwind.
Chamber a Round: The worst feeling in the world… Coyote! Click. Make sure you put one in the chamber before you start calling! If you’re running an AR-15, rack a round at the vehicle, and make sure you have it on safe!
Camouflage: Make sure you put on your camo BEFORE you walk into the stand. Get your gear ready, gloves on, facemask pulled down before you start calling. I don’t recommend getting dressed after you get there. Camo helps disguise you while your moving as well as when you’re sitting still.
Shade is your best camouflage: Sit in the shade if possible. On high contrast days, animals can barely distinguish a person sitting still in the shade. Sitting in the daylight can emphasize slight movements with reflections from your face, remote, or weapon. The downside to the latest greatest remotes is a gigantic display screen otherwise known as an emergency signal mirror. Direct sun on the face of your remote is bad news.
Breakup Your Outline: It’s more important to have trees, shrubs, bushes behind you than in front of you. Sitting against a tree or bush will break up your outline. Shrubs and bushes in front of you will inhibit your visibility and ability to adjust your shooting sticks or bipod. Keep the area in front clear, let the foliage behind you do the work!
Power on your call: Turn your caller and remote on, check for connection. Sounds obvious, but you’ll want to create a routine of turning it on and off. Leaving the unit off, then walking back to sit down, get situated, press play…. no sound. That get’s old. Then you have to get up, walk to the call, turn it on… well you get the point, make a routine and train yourself to turn it on and off the same way each time.
Ecall Distance: One of the most common questions I am asked, how far should I set the caller. I typically set it no more than 30-40 yards away. Some hunters dream of setting the call 200 yards away and then sniping a coyote with their custom rifle. This is not typical. The best electronic remote on the market will barely reach 100 yards in general hunting conditions. The further you are from the caller, the further your shot is likely to be. Walking 150 yards out, then 150 yards back leaves a gigantic scent line. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re going to trick the trickster that way. There are those who kill coyotes long distance, but it’s not typical.
Article by Tom Austin: Deadly Predator Decoy Combination.
Article by Bob Connell of Texas Predator Posse: Electronic Caller Tips for Predator Hunting.
Decoy Distance: Place the decoy within three feet of the caller. I like to set the caller and decoy near a small piece of brush to break the outline of the call. Open fields can be challenging, use a branch or dirt pile to help if you can. Sometimes placing the decoy in a bit of debris can excite the coyote into pouncing on the call or decoy. I placed a critter inside some sage brush about 10 feet away one time, and a coyote came in so fast I didn’t have time to blink. He bit the ecall, then spun off and exited without a shot. I just laughed out loud at myself for not having a shotgun.
Caller Direction: I face the call speaker in the direction I anticipate the coyote will come from. I love the new Lucky Duck Revolution because it rotates with the push of a button. I don’t always guess right, but sometimes a coyote will approach the call trying to determine the sound source. It’s always louder straight down from the call speaker. A fox almost always come “down sound” as its called, and coyotes do it occasionally as well.
How to Use an Electronic Coyote Call
Sound Selection: What should you play? There are so many factors that go into this selection. Time of year, time of day, can all play a factor. I typically base my selection off of the next four factors.
Curiosity: Playing any sound is likely to pique a predators curiosity. Don’t be afraid to try sounds that are not native to your area. I constantly have success in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah with sounds like “Snowshoe Hair,” “Whitetail Fawn,” and “Wild Pig Distress.” Those animals are not typical for the areas I call, let them be curious!
Hunger Instinct: Early in the year up until mid January, rabbit distress, fawn distress, bird distress, and rodent distress are effective sounds for me. They can work anytime of the year, but playing on this instinct is critical for calling success. Remember that coyotes need to eat, so prey distress are always a good choice.
Paternal Instinct: Pup distress is a key sound in the arsenal. I use coyote and canine pup distress almost all year around as well. I end almost every set with at least two minutes of pup distress, just to try and catch a hesitant yote that I might not see off in the brush. It doesn’t always work, but it’s meant to replicate three things, a pup in distress, obviously, an injured coyote, or coyotes fighting over a meal. They often nip at each other when feeding, it’s part of the pecking order. All of these things can send a coyote running to your call.
Territorial Response: February 15th is the peak of the breeding season. Coyotes become very territorial and so usually coyote vocals are more effective in luring in a song dog. Learning how to master coyote vocals and vocabulary is a feat all in itself. The reality is, no human can truly understand the language that coyotes speak. We give names to certain howls like, “territorial howl,” or “challenge barks” but we can never know the intentions of the coyote. Sometimes they respond and never come in. The videos on TV give a false idea that if one responds, you’re going to howl one in. It doesn’t usually work that way. You can practice and have success with territorial sounds however.
Since I originally wrote this I’ve experimented quite a bit with different techniques. I will write an article soon about what to do when they howl at you. Sign up on the email list if you’d like to read about my results and how I’m killing those dang howling coyotes!
Call Volume: I get this question a lot. I usually play the sound at full volume. Occasionally I start at low volume and then work it up over one minute. Some prefer to start on really low volume, then work their way up to fool a coyote into thinking it’s getting closer to them. Louder = closer to a coyote. Try out different techniques, find your own method!
Since writing this in 2012 I have changed my methods. If using mouth calls (I used them exclusively in 2016) and starting with a rabbit distress, I blow quietly for 20-30 seconds, then wait for 1 minute. I get louder with each sequence, and blow for 15-45 seconds, wait 1 – 2 minutes and so on.
With my Revolution I start it on volume 7 (1 is lowest, 32 is max). It’s really quiet to start for the first 3-4 minutes. We we’re blowing coyotes out that were within 500 yards of us. Now we call a lot of dogs within the 3 minute mark, and have even seen them respond within 10 seconds. We work up to 20 on the volume, unless it’s really windy. That call has insane volume and there’s no need to push the volume that high in calm or low wind conditions. Be quiet walking in, and start with low volume!
Continuous Play: Another common question. I play the sounds continuously over the period of about 15-20 minutes. Some people play for a few minutes, then pause for a few, then repeat. Dan Thompson is one of the greatest callers to ever live and he only called for 30 seconds or so, then he would sit and wait. Find your method that works for you. Try out different techniques, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Since writing this I have tried about everything. I was nearly sold on leaving gaps of 30-60 seconds, but then I started trying continuous play again, and I was still calling them in. I think scouting, locating, and stand setup are more important than whether or not the call is constantly running or not. Different areas may give different results, find your favorite method and always keep testing new techniques.
Switching Sounds: I’m not afraid to switch sounds during a set. While calling coyotes I normally play at least three different sounds. I might play “Lucky Bird” for eight minutes, then pause for one minute, then play “Mule Deer Fawn” for eight minutes. I finish with two minutes of “Coyote Pup Screams.” The next stand will be different. I might play “Jackrabbit Distress” for ten minutes, then switch to “Canine Pup” for five. Find your own calling sequences, don’t be afraid to try.
If you’re afraid to change sounds… one time I had a double come in, I dropped my mouth call from my lanyard, it hit my remote and foxbang switched from “Lucky Bird” to “Pup Distress.” I hit the recall button and it went to “Deer Fawn” for some reason. Three sounds in 15 seconds didn’t phase the coyotes, they were curious. I accidentally overexposed the pictures or I would have had about 200 shots from that stand.
Stand Length: As mentioned before I typically go for about 15-20 minutes. Some like to call up to 30 minutes. I rarely stay on stand for any longer than that. I’ve only called a few coyotes after the 20 minute mark, it can be done, but most come within 15 minutes. Try 30 minute stands one day, and 15 minute stands the next. You need to experiment.
Again, since writing this I’ve found different areas can have different response times. One trip to Wyoming resulted in 7 coyotes coming in, and all of them came in after the 20 minute mark. As the season gets later start sticking around longer to see what might show up.
How to Use a Coyote Mouth Call
Mouth Calls: There are still many callers who prefer the tradition of mouth calling. It requires practice, good lungs, and patience. I use both e-calls and mouth calls with success. You can be successful with a mouth call, but you need to learn the techniques to make you successful or you’ll see the south side of a lot of north bound dogs.
Coyotes are professionals. They are looking for the slightest movements as they approach. Blowing like crazy, moving your hands, whipping your head might not be the best technique. Consider a face mask to help disguise your hands as you recreate your best rendition of flight of the bumble bee.
Know that when a predator approaches they will try to pinpoint the source of the sound. I, and Many mouth callers, use a decoy like a Mojo Critter, or Mojo Super Critter placed 10-20 yards away. The Super Critter decoy has an optional small speaker and starts playing a sound two minutes after you turn it on if desired. Once you see a coyote, stop calling and let the decoy do the work.
Closed Reed Calls: The easiest style of mouth call to learn is a closed reed call. The reed is installed in the “call body” and you don’t touch the reed or the “tone board.” All you need to do is blow air through the call, and voila dying animal distress. There isn’t a special technique or secret series of sounds that you need to master, however most successful callers will talk about “raspy” sounds, “whines” or “cries.” Remember you’re not only trying to mimic an animal in distress, you’re trying to evoke an emotion in a predator. Watch the video below to see the rhythm, the rasp, and aural image Al Morris is trying to paint.
Open Reed Calls: Open reed calls are more difficult to master. They require a bit of practice. The best way to learn is to first watch others (see Tom Austin Video below). Then put an open reed call in your vehicle. As you drive to a from work, or wherever you’re going (preferably alone) you can practice perfecting you predator peace pipe. You’re going to sound bad at first, everybody does. I still haven’t mastered all of the vocals I’d like to, but I’m getting better and I am not afraid to let a howl fly while on stand.
Open reed calls are extremely versatile! You can howl, bark, whine, make a pup distress, rabbit distress, and about anything you can come up with. I’ve seen guys do a woodpecker, grey fox distress, and many other with just one open reed call. There are many to choose from, my personal favorites are any of the Dan Thompson Howlers.
Watch Al Morris at the World Predator Calling Championships (Open Reed)
Squeak Squeak: One tool I won’t leave home without is a simple rodent squeaker. If you have a dog you know how effective a little kids toy can be on attracting your dog. My little dog goes bonkers over the slightest toy squeak at home. I like to camo tape a rodent squeaker to my shooting sticks. That way if I happen to change weapons, I still have a squeaker taped to the bottom of my shooting stick yoke. My rest hand goes right to my yoke, and the squeaker helps lure them in the rest of the way.
Howling: This is an art form. Learning how to howl is the first challenge. Then learning different types of howls can be daunting. When to use certain howls over another, well now you’ve got a lifetime of learning to do. Watch videos and learn from those who are successful. Randy Anderson uses almost exclusively coyote vocals to hunt. Learning to howl, and using different techniques can add a lot of value to your calling setups. Don’t be afraid to get up and move toward a coyote if they howl at you. Go get them, make them think you’re moving in, they might do the same!
Article by Tom Austin: Howling Good Time.
Article by Grand View Outdoors: Understanding a Coyotes Will to Survive.
Here is a playlist (9 Videos) of Randy Anderson explaining his techniques.
Watch Tom Austin Demonstrate two different Open Reed Callers
Coyote Coming to the Call
Don’t Move: Well, keep your movement to a minimum. The hardest part of predator hunting in the beginning is learning to SEE a coyote. They usually are within range and scanning the terrain before you’ve spotted them. Scratching your nose, raising your remote up, shifting your weight can draw attention to a coyote that you can’t see yet. Learning to see them takes practice, and being in the field. It amazes me when I go hunting with my friends how long it takes them to pick out a coyote on the approach. HE’S RIGHT THERE!!! SHOOT! It might take seeing ten coyotes coming to the call before you really start to look for the color and movements of a coyote.
It reminds me of one of my favorite books, Hatchet, “The “foolbirds” seem to be everywhere, but at first Brian can’t figure out how to catch them; they blend in to the woods so well that one of them might be two feet away from him and still he doesn’t see it until it suddenly explodes upward in flight. Tricky little buggers.”
One thing we do to assist others on stand is to whisper locations of coyotes that we see. Use the call or decoy as “12 O’clock” and anything to the right becomes 1, 2, and 3 O’clock. Anything to the left becomes 9, 10, and 11 O’clock. Then say the range, 100 yards, about 300 yards. Then say direction or speed, “He’s moving right to left” or, “He’s coming in hot.” A full sequence might sound like this, “Coyote, 2 O’clock, 200 yards, moving right to left.” This is all done in a whisper mind you.
If a coyote is standing still and staring toward you when you spot him, you should whisper, “Don’t move.” Then give the coordinates. I’ve also been practicing with my partner to freeze when they say something. Whipping your head around will get you busted, it’s happened 3 or 4 times already this year to us. So learn to freeze and move your eyes first, then slowly move your head.
Predator Approaching: Hunters always want to hook their decoy to the caller. They want to be able to start and stop the decoy on demand. I’m sorry but this is a bad idea. Let the decoy play the entire time. The coyote will see your decoy long before you see them! The decoy will take the attention from you and pin it on the decoy. This allows you to adjust your weapon to get in a good shooting position.
Article by Dustin Butler: Predicting the Coyote’s Approach.
They Move, You Move: If a coyote is sitting 300 yards out watching you, don’t move. Once the dog starts moving again, re-position slowly. If they go behind a tree or dip into a ravine, move quickly. If they stop, hold still. the coyote is scanning the area looking for the slightest movement. Why is that animal in distress? Is their another coyote? A Mt. Lion? A Bear? They want to get downwind to smell whatever it is attacking that animal. The last thing they want to do is run up on a lion and get whipped. Sometimes a decoy does the trick and they bolt in! These are called “shotgun coyotes” because they enter and exit in a flash, and if you don’t have a shotgun, you ain’t puttin’ down any fur! Trust me, it only takes one time to learn the speed of a shotgun coyote.
Since writing this, I’ve put in a lot of practice with my AR-15. I bought a 45 degree mount and a red dot sight for those hard chargers. I’ve been putting down hard chargers with my AR-15 for the past year or so. I use shooting sticks without attaching them in any way so I can lift my gun without resistance. It’s fun to practice on rabbits with the setup I have.
Article by Tom Austin: Coyote Body Language.
Coming in: If a dog is slowly working its way in, let them come. These are the best type of coyotes, but don’t get greedy. Know where your down wind is and take the shot when they present one, don’t fool yourself that they will walk in a stop for a perfect shot, take what they give you. Sometimes you can be a little more patient with a slow walker.
Heading Downwind: Sometimes you’ll see them reach a point to where they change direction. They don’t appear to be leaving, but they’re trying to get downwind. Always know where your downwind is. Shoot before they reach your “scent cone.” If you know where they will eventually hit your scent you have to make a decision.
Looking Back: This usually means the coyote is not alone. They’re waiting for their partner or partners. An early shot can ruin what might have been a chance at a double. Don’t get greedy though, shooting too late can also spoil the whole stand. Too many times a double comes in, and no fur hits the ground. Pick a dog and shoot it. Most recommend shooting the lead dog. I say get fur in the truck, then work on the double. AR-15 style setups are ideal for this situation providing for quick follow up shots if needed. They can also rush follow up shots too, believe me I know.
Walking Away: Don’t panic if a dog stops at 400 yards and decides to walk away. If you don’t have a shot, wait patiently then leave quietly. You can return to the same area and make a different approach the next time. Don’t shoot out of your range and educate a coyote, instead you take the experience as part of your education and move on.
Breathe: Control your breathing. The more experience you have hunting, the better you’ll be at this. Adrenaline starts to pump when they come in, and getting a shot is difficult. I tell my friends who hunt big game that they need to hunt coyotes so they can practice being cool in the moment. Last year on the deer hunt I shot my buck at sunrise at about 150 yards. I was calm and collect, no nerves, I just put the cross hairs on him and gently squeezed. Perfect shot, meat in the freezer. All of the coyote hunting in the previous year had taught me how to be calm and collect when my trophy approaches.
Article by Dustin Butler: Conquering Coyote Fever.
Moving Shot: Avoid taking a moving shot at a coyote. Get them to stop by muting the caller, squeaking, barking, or letting out a long howl. Taking a moving shot decreases your odds of hitting the coyote, or at least hitting them in a vital area. Sometimes you don’t have a choice when they are on the dead run, but try to avoid a moving shot if at all possible.
Bark: The best way I get them to stop where I want them to stop is to bark or howl. It doesn’t always work, but I find it doesn’t usually scare them either. They’re used to hearing a bark sound, so they perk up and try to identify the source of the sound. That’s when you take a clean shot.
Lately I’ve been almost exclusively howling. Just let out a low volume wooooooooooooooooooooooo sound and most dogs can’t resist and stop in their tracks. If they don’t, get your shotgun ready, or they’ve winded you. Dogs tat wind you rarely stop on the way out.
In the Thick: Hunting in the thick woods or timber will force you to change your style. Coyotes can be less leary when they have cover, but they also tend to “wind” a hunter easier because you can’t see them working to get downwind. You’ll need to change your technique and use a shotgun most likely. This can be a blast though if you like fast action! Set the call up wind 20 yards, wind in your face, and get ready for fast action. Works great in windy conditions!
Article by Steve Criner: Stand Up for Thick Cover Coyotes.
Article by Grand View Outdoors: Look Low for Incoming Coyotes.
After the Shot!
Rebel Yell: Don’t jump up and down and start screaming, “Fried Chicken!” (Steve Criner ribbing 😉 ) You never know if another coyote is just over the bend. Shots fired don’t always scare a predator away, and playing a pup distress or KiYi distress sound might entice a second or third coyote within range. We reset our timer and go another 5 minutes minimum after we shoot a coyote.
KiYi: KiYi is the name of a coyote in distress. If you’ve ever heard a dog get hit by a car, you’ve heard a kiyi call. Most predator hunters use a pup distress on their e-calls, or use an open read distress to mimic the sound of a dog in distress. Do this after every coyote you shoot, then wait before you go pick up your trophy.
Foxbang: This is my favorite feature on any of the e-calls on the market. Setting foxbang to a pup distress or kiyi increases your odds to kill more predators. We use it all the time to call and kill multiple gray fox, and have had it work on coyotes as well. Switching quickly to a kiyi can make the difference between dropping that second coyote or watching it high tail into the sunset.
Killing Multiple Coyotes: All of the tips mentioned previous will determine your ability to kill multiple coyotes. I do several things to increase my odds. I use an AR-15 to allow for a quick follow up shot. I set foxbang before I go out so that foxbang will always be ready. I wait until the second coyote presents a shot, we don’t shoot at a coyote on the run. I usually let them go if they don’t turn around. I will wait and miss a chance rather than shoot and educate another coyote. I prefer a standing coyote at 300 yards over a running coyote at 100 yards.
Article by Dustin Butler:Killing Multiple Coyotes on Stand.
Don’t Chase: If you’ve hit and injured a coyote, but it doesn’t immediately go down, sit and wait for a minute. Give the animal time to lay down and die. Sounds simple, but chasing after them can allow adrenaline to flow and a coyote to travel further than you want to track it. I made this mistake once, and on a hot day wasted time tracking a coyote that I couldn’t find.
If you shotgun one up close and they keep going, you can chase at that point. I wouldn’t go too far though because it’s so tough to track them. Just hit them in the right spot and you won’t have that problem, sounds easy enough right.
How to Skin a Coyote
Skinning the Yote: All I can say is, DON’T WAIT 24 HOURS TO SKIN A COYOTE! I unfortunately learned that lesson my first time shooting and skinning a coyote. 5 hours of skinning later, I understood why guys do it as soon a s possible. The video below shows how to do it quick.
Article by David Kaprocki: Skinning Pelts Correctly.