Calling all Coyotes: Proven Tips for a Successful Coyote Hunt Across the United States
Coyotes are some of the toughest animals to hunt, which is why many predator hunters enjoy the sport so much beyond the positive effect it has on ranchers. We've taken a scientific approach to give you coyote hunting and calling tips based on a Utah State study.
There are 3 main types of calling techniques that we will discuss how coyotes responded in this study: prey distress, whines and yelps, and challenge howls. Each of these calling techniques trigger different emotions in a coyote, so let's dive in.
Calling with Prey Distress
Studies have shown coyotes will eat anything they can fit in their mouths including rocks, plastic packaging, harness buckles, and even the occasional unlucky rabbit. Because of this, there is no secret to which prey distress call to use. The key to a successful hunt is going to depend upon the coyote’s security level.
A coyote’s approach to the distress call will be determined by its most recent experience. A study was done on GPS collared coyotes where coyotes were trapped every 6 weeks, collar information was uploaded and fresh batteries were installed, then released back to their habitat. These song dogs were extremely pressured and the results brought to light their habits in an unsecure location.
Upon hearing initial prey distress, the test coyotes run downwind of the call without exposing themselves and remained in place for a long period of time. One 10 year old alpha male waited 17 hours before approaching the calling location and then spent 45 minutes investigating the area once moving in.
The biggest take away from this study is to not leave your stand too soon after calling, especially if you are in a pressured area where there are a lot of callers around. Spend a solid 30 to 45 minutes on each stand, or even more if you do not have the acreage to continue moving from stand to stand.
Whines and Yelps
Nonaggressive vocalizations, most often made by pups, are one of the most effective sounds available in today’s electronic callers because they trigger multiple behavioral instincts at once. Social interaction, territorial instincts, and protective maternal or paternal instincts are only the beginning. During the harsh winters the sound can even appeal to their hunger, since it has been documented that coyotes have cannibalized pups.
During denning season (typically March through May), family bonds are the strongest and these sounds are most reliable. During mating seasons (September through January) these sounds have also been proven to be effective.
It is important to have multiple elements added to differentiate between your stands and the whines and yelps are a must have for helping improve your calling repertoire.
Coyotes are cowards. They are not like their wolf cousins who love a good challenge. Challenge howls and barks are invitations to fight and research has shown that coyotes will avoid fights when possible. Their cousins, the wolf, will search and destroy when a challenge is presented. Thus, it is best to only use these vocalizations if you are certain you’re set up in a coyote pack’s core territory.
With this in mind, a loud long-range howl will most likely get howls in return but has slim chances to yield any coyotes. However, a long, low frequency and high pitched howl announces the presence of a young, small, and nonaggressive coyote that most dogs will want to investigate.
It is best to locate coyote with a group yip-howl. Once located and you have moved close to the area they reside, call them into range with a lone howl.
Here’s why it works: researchers recorded coyote barks and howls and analyzed them with a spectrograph. They found highly specific information encoded in coyote howls, including identity, sex, size, age, and even emotional state. Dr. Philip Lehner from Utah State University identified and described 11 coyote vocalizations and listed them into 3 categories. 1 – contact: long range howls; 2- greeting: whines, yelps and low-frequency howls; 3 – agonistic: warning and alarm vocalizations.
Most of these vocalizations are aggressive in nature and it is important to know because they will alarm or intimidate most coyotes. Submissive coyotes will retreat to their core areas after howls are broadcast and remain there until joined by another group member or until enough time has passed for them to investigate. That’s the opposite of what you want your howls to do.
It is important to remember that coyotes will sometimes investigate the source of group yip howls, so be prepared incase they catch you.
**This information was supplemented by Rich Higgins’ post on OutdoorLife.com
Now that you have a better understanding of coyote behavior, it's time to understand how to find and locate a quality light that can play to the strengths and weaknesses a coyote has. The Best Coyote Hunting Light: 5 Features You Must Have.
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