Friday, February 10, 2012

Predator Hunting 101 - The Art of Hunting the Hunters

Over the past 6 years or so I have noticed a great deal of interest in coyote hunting/calling, especially here in Southern California where hunting is not exactly popular, so I thought I would share my knowledge and experience with hunters who may be new to this sport and are looking for tips and general strategies that you need to know when hunting the hunters.

Ever since my first calling experience when I was a boy in Salmon Idaho, I have been hooked on predator calling. I would rather call in a coyote, fox or bobcat than hunt elk, deer or birds any day of the week....not that I don't enjoy hunting these animals, but it is vastly different and much more exciting to fool a coyote into thinking you are a free lunch and see them on a dead run heading straight for you. I just don't get the same kind of visceral adrenalin rush from hunting other game animals as I experience from predator hunting.

My goal in this quick article is to give the basic ABC's of predator calling and hopefully get you enough information to start racking up successes in the field and become as hopelessly addicted as I am.

The High Flyover
The advice and strategies I will discuss here will be listed in more or less the order of importance, however, in this first chapter I won't give a lot of detail but rather I want to give you a high level run through of the important key steps to success in the field. This will also help give you context for the details I will be discussing later in the article. Following are the critical points you need to consider, and get right to ensure a successful calling effort.

1. Have the correct equipment for the animals you intend to call and the environment you will be hunting in. You need to select the appropriate firearm, camouflage, calls, etc. These are more of a personal preference but there are obvious do's and don'ts. Like, you would not want to hunt coyotes with a 600 Nitro Express, especially if you intend to sell the pelts. More on this later.

2. You will need to scout the area(s) you want to call in advance, this is where you will search for signs of the animals you want to call and create a mental, and sometimes, an actual written plan for each location you want to hunt. You can't call anything in if they are none in the area!

3. You need to park your vehicle at least 150 yards (further is better) from your stand and the vehicle needs to be hidden from view. If your vehicle is visible from the direction you expect the animals to approach, they will not come in. I try to find a low spot, or large brush stand to hide the truck.

4. You need to approach your stand from downwind and preferably with the sun at your back (Not always possible). Try not to approach from a ridge line or any high point where you will be silhouetted. You need to be as quiet as possible that means no talking, no loose change in your pockets, etc.

5. Once you reach the area where you plan to call, you need to find a spot with cover that has visibility over the area you expect the victims to come in from, preferably a point with some elevation and enough cover at your back to break up your outline. I like to find a spot midway up a small rise overlooking a draw or open area...and, of course you should be facing to call into the wind.

6. Once you get seated and all of your equipment arranged, you want to make sure you are comfortable (I carry a pillow to sit on) because once you start your calling sequence you don't want to move around much at all...they may be watching!

7. After 5 minutes or so you can start your calling sequence. I will go into the different types and techniques for calling later, but what ever you are using I always start with a low volume short set of calls and then wait another 3 to 5 minutes before starting the next set. This first call is for any critters that may be very near by that you managed not to alert. More often than not I have had coyote just pop-up out of no where after the first few minutes of calling.

8. I rarely ever call for more than 15 to 20 minutes at each stand and this usually allows for 5 to 6 mouth call sequences. After each call give yourself 2 to 3 minutes to thoroughly scan the area and watch for any movement. Pay particular attention to areas where the cover meets open areas, shadowed spots, dry creek bottoms, game trails, etc. Mr. Coyote wants to feel safe when they approach anything they are not sure about. This is one of the secrets to want to give your prey a safe covered approach. If they have to cross a big open area they will be a lot more cautious and try to circle your stand to get downwind of you before getting close enough in to see them.

9. It's hard to anticipate how a particular predator will approach but more often than not coyotes will come in at a steady pace until they get about 100 yards from where the sound is coming from. From there they will stop more often and watch...most of the time they do this from behind a bush where they will pop their heads just above or around the side with ears up and pointed forward. They are looking, listening and smelling for anything out of sort. The particular coyote's behavior will dictate what I do from this point forward. If he seems interested and not very spooked I quit calling and let them come as close as they want, watching for any signs that he is getting nervous. If he is nervous or refuses to come any closer, I will do a couple short and very soft rodent squeaks. This usually gets them to come in a little closer to at least get a good shot.

10. It's important to note that if you take a shot whether you hit your mark or not, it's not over yet, wait a few minutes then start calling again. For some reason gun shots do not seem to bother coyotes as much as you would think and I have had more coyotes come in after taking a's worth a few more minutes.

11. If you have no takers at the first stand after a reasonable amount of time then it's time to move on to your next stand. When you are ready to get up and leave, take a few seconds after standing to scan the area, you may have one that is hanging out there beyond your view when sitting. You need to travel at least a mile from the first location to make sure you have a new fresh audience. Depending on the area, your calling sounds will travel a great distance so you want to make sure you are in virgin territory.

12. Repeat the setup and approach steps above at each consecutive stand. You don't want to over call an area because all that will happen is you will educate the coyotes in that area and they will no longer respond to calls. Give each site at least a month to recover after calling, even if you were not successful because it's possible that the reason nothing responded is because they saw or heard you and now they relate the presence of humans with the calling sounds.

Ok, well that's the down and dirty basics of coyote calling. If you want more detailed articles on predator hunting, please visit our website at: and look for our article section. Thank you for reading

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's funny you mention Salmon, Idaho.. in college at Appalachian State University (in the mountains of North Carolina) I got to spend a month out in Salmon, Stanley, and CDL Idaho... truly awesome and inspiring places! The area around Stanley is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been! Had a chance to do some fishing there but no hunting unfortunately.

Great blog, truly love reading it!

Check me out at or sometime!