|This is a very basic explanation of the caller we discuss in the article. It helps to see how it works and to hear the actual sounds if you want to understand this lengthy and detailed overview of how to kill coyotes|
A large male coyote like this guy can be the most ruthless adversary you have ever encountered in the stewardship of livestock. The fox in the henhouse is nothing compared to coyotes on the cattle ranch.
Many Florida cattle ranchers leave the tips on the horns of the cattle so that they cows can defend themselves. This cow was killed while birthing a calf. The skeleton of the calf is nearby and they ate that first. This carcass is well spoiled but can be hunted over for several days as the coyotes dig into their handiwork.
Even hunting over a kill at night you are going to have to invest in some kind of calling system. You can download sounds for a little as $1.99 for your Ipod, and you can play them on a boombox. This is the Alpha Dogg caller from Primos. It is the best caller on the market.
The screen is fairly easy to access the sounds with, and you can set up your own hunts ahead of time.
You are going to want to try to hunt coyotes at night, which means you should expect to find a way to shoot during pitch black. The most common way to do this is with a night vision riflescope. You should also invest in some night vision binoculars. .
This is a unit made in Belarus currently being sold under the name Yukon through Amazon and other outlets. It is the best inexpensive Gen 1 night vision scope we have found. The IR illuminator control you see is an infrared flashlight built into the scope, and we have never seen it spook coyotes. The reticle is electronic, and floats, but it is reliable out to 100 yard and can be zeroed in daylight.
The LaserGenetics ND3 from Gamo is an inexpensive method of night vision that doesnt’ require you to remove your existing 1″ tube scope, or to re-zero your rifle. It is a green laser flashlight that spotlights your target downrange. So far the green light has never spooked any game any we have pointed it at, including coyotes.
Don’t be afraid to grab no-name night vision Binocs on Ebay for cheap. This one uses a 9v battery and when they come on usually sell well under $200. It doesn’t have IR but on a moonlit night you don’t need IR for open field glassing. Recently a new pair of NV binos hit Amazon under that Yukon name and we hope to check them out as well. There are plenty of NV monoculars in the $100-$150 range that work great and have built in IR.
The big male in the picture here was taken with a Stag M4 carbine using the Yukon night vision and DRT 78 grain .223 ammo.
You may want to use a decoy along with your caller. The Primos Alpha Dogg can also power the Primos decoys, but even though we bought a few to try, this Mojo Critter has become our favorite. During the day especially a moving decoy gives the dogs something else besides you to concentrate on.
Don’t be squeamish about killing juvenile coyotes. They will be practicing their hunting skills on your turkey poults, deer fawns, pigglets and livestock if you let them. so kill them when you can. This is one of Dwayne’s hunting clients Wayne Puffer who used our resident Ambush Rifle in 6.8SPC to kill this dog. That is a Vortex Viper PST riflescope and Wayne used the LaserGenetics ND3 to spotlight the coyote. ,
Primos Alpha Dogg Caller
Yukon Night Vision Riflescope
Kissimee River Hunt & Fish
“Know your enemy” is something of a misnomer when hunting coyotes. They are not creatures of habit, but of instinct and opportunity. Creating what a coyote believes is an opportunity kicks in its instincts, and that is how you get a wily coyote within shooting range. If you are overrun with coyotes and you don’t know what to do, this is an overview of the basics, based on over six months of research with our guide Dwayne Powell in Okeechobee, Florida. The state of Florida is second only to Texas in beef production, and coyotes are an incessant problem on the cattle ranches, especially with newborn calves and birthing mothers.
We have hunted these creatures during the day, at night, when the ground is wet and when the ground is dry, when it is hot and when it is cool, and there is almost never a time when coyotes do the same thing. There are times when you won’t be able to lure them out, and others when they will stand 30 yards in front of you and let you shoot at them. But of one thing you can be certain. Make sure that your rifle is zeroed and that you shoot really well, really fast. She or he who hesitates is lost when hunting coyotes. They don’t give you a lot of time, even on the easiest day. More of Dwayne’s clients miss coyotes than all the other types of game combined. The Creator in His infinite wisdom made the coyote a ruthless, heartless, killing machine that is extremely suspicious and careful. You have to be no less than that if you expect to eradicate them from your property and hunt coyotes successfully. It really isn’t about coyote hunting. It is about coyote killing.
On the ranches, the coyotes watch for cows to give birth, and during labor they attack. While the mother is disabled in the birthing process the coyotes pull out the partially born calf, then they kill the mother cow from the inside. There are few more despicable creatures than the coyote, so you should never be afraid to hunt them in what we would normally think of as an “unsporting manner.” In our experience the most gauranteed way to hunt coyotes is at night over one of their kills. If you are not a sport hunter and you just need to get rid of coyotes, this is often the best way to kill off problem animals. Apparently coyotes have iron stomachs, because they will eat a large kill for several days, even though the meat has long spoiled. If you have a fence or thicket (where you are sure there is no coyote den) located 30-50 yards away on the crosswind to the kill, set up a ground blind parallel to the location of the rotting carcass.
There is always a chance that the dogs may come from behind you, but more than not they will come in opposite you, and this will give you a chance to see how many dogs are coming in before you take your shot or shots. In our experience, coyotes almost always come in crosswind to their destination, not from downwind as you would expect. Many coyotes hunters keep a shotgun with buckshot across their lap just in case the dogs come in close from behind them, but hunting with a quick and light AR-15 style carbine in our experience makes that unnecessary. Just leave your scope on 1x power and only suck in the magnification if and when you need it.
You should assume that you will have to call the dogs in with an electronic caller. The night is long, and the kill won’t last for more than a few days, and certainly not long enough for you to monitor the comings and goings of the coyotes with a game camera. In the future we hope to have some head to head comparisons of the many callers. Inexpensive callers will have the basic sounds you need for coyotes, but beware of the volume level because they tend to distort. If you aren’t on a tight budget and you view your caller as a long term investment, the best caller by far is the Alpha Dogg from Primos, MSRP $319, at retailers generally under $250. It comes with 75 sounds and the new ones even have whole progressions of calling sounds called “hunts” programmed into them. The Alpha Dogg is loud and clear, and doesn’t distort even at its highest volume. The speakers may be turned in different directions as well so that you can cover more of a radius, as opposed to a direction. We haven’t even used half the features on the unit, even though we have bought several of the accessories.
If you are hunting over a kill, you should start right away with the actual coyote sounds. Don’t bother with wounded game or mating calls. The dogs know that the game is there and they are near enough to guard it from other packs, so all you have to do is convince them that other coyotes are moving in on their kill. You can start with random howls and barks, or go right to the serenade call. There is a video in this article so you can listen to some of the calls. Over a kill the dogs will generally come right in, but during the day they won’t be as reckeless. At night there is an extremely good chance that the coyotes will completely ignore any possibility that you exist. Coyotes that haven’t been under hunting pressure have nothing to fear, and we have found that the big males will even even stand their ground after the shooting starts, because they perceive that you are something trying to move in on their kill. This is why, before getting into the more touch and go aspects of coyote hunting, we have to tell you that hunting over a kill is your best option. If the dogs kill an animal on your property, do your best to stake it to the ground and plan to hunt over it that night.
If You Don’t Have a Fresh Kill to Hunt Over
We had to start the article with the ideal circumstances because if you don’t have a fresh kill to hunt over, coyote hunting is much more complex. Coyotes eat different things at different times of the year, based on opportunity. One week your local pack may be feasting on turkey poults, the next week on piglets, the next week on deer fawns, and the hardest time we have ever had to get coyotes out to a caller has been when the frogs were plentiful. You may have heard of “match the hatch” when trout fishing, and coyote hunting is much the same thing. The trick is to figure out what they expect to eat that day, and hope they aren’t already full by the time you get to them.
The Alpha Dogg caller has dozens of sounds, many of them meant to attract coyotes. The distressed game sounds are inviting, and we do use them, but they are not as powerful as the actual coyote sounds themselves. Once you have been out coyote hunting a few times you will see that most “coyote hunting tips” are kind of a joke. One day you could play a distressed pig sound and bring in a dog, and the next trip you could play that same call in three different sets and come up with nothing. The only consistent calls for us have been the coyote howls and barks and the various serenades. Whether a coyote is hungry or not they will defend their territory, and mother coyotes with young pups can’t resist the call to defend her flock. The serenade is the coyotes biggest weakness, and one you should not be afraid to exploit. During the spring all you might get is pups coming in, but don’t be afraid to shoot them. The older a coyote gets, the more experienced and wary he becomes. If you think coyote puppies are too cute to kill, remember that by next year they will be full grown, and even as puppies they would think nothing of eating you. In the spring you should endeavor to kill every puppy that is born on the land you want to protect, then kill the mommy. Once a pack of coyotes gets the taste for livestock or pets they will be a constant threat. The only answer is to kill every one of them.
By far the biggest challenge to successful coyote hunting is that most hunters are not self trained to take snap shots. At Dwayne Powell’s Kissimee River Hunt & Fish he is hunting over 8,000 acres of private cattle farm on an exclusive hunting lease. Surrounding the ranch is 30,000 acres of public land, and another tens of thousands of acres of other private cattle ranches, many of them hunted only by the ranchers and their families. That means a constant influx of coyotes, but you would think that with all the hunters coming and going, it would be easy to keep up with them. It isn’t, because very simply, most hunting clients either fail to take the shot, or miss when they finally got around to shooting. It is extremely disappointing, and it is why we can’t stress enough that if you plan to coyote hunt, especially during daylight hours, you had better tune up your snap shooting skills, and make sure that you know exactly where your point of impact is at 30-100 yards.
During the day, unless they come in behind you and stumble upon you, it is rare that a coyote will come in closer than 80 yards before he circles and eventually smells you. You should spray down with scent killer before you go out, and cover yourself completely in camo, but your breath has scent, and they will pick it up eventually. Unless you are in the woods during deer season, you won’t be in the woods with other hunters generally. On private land you may have to worry about hitting cows or other livestock, but you don’t have to worry about shooting people. If you see a half a dog, shoot it. That may be all you ever see. Waiting for him to come around for a picture perfect broadside shot behind the shoulder isn’t going to happen during the day. You will almost have a split second to raise your rifle and take the shot at a moving target before the dog disappears, so be prepared, and don’t hesitate.
That is why by all accounts it is easier to hunt coyotes at night. They are far less cautious, and you almost always just woke them up with your caller before they came to investigate. Coyotes hunt at night and they are extremely susceptible to the caller. It is unusual for them to find food during the day, but at night they not only hunt all the time, it is not unusual for them to try to steal a wounded animal from another dog’s attack, or to expect other dogs to call them into a fresh kill. At night a coyotes instincts are at their peak, and this makes it also the peak of their vulnerability. In most places coyotes have few natural predators, and they know that man is mostly around during the day. Their eyes, ears and noses are tuned to what they can find to eat, not to what might be hunting them, and that gives you a tactical advantage. You may have resisted hunting at night because it is expensive, and humans are definitely out of our element at night in the wild, so it is a little spooky, but if you have a genuine coyote problem, you may not have a choice. Once you educate a coyote that he is being hunting, the chances of killing him during the day will dissolve to almost zero. Find him at night, kill him at night, and take your pictures for Facebook in the morning.
The brand or type of caller itself isn’t as critical as the fact that you have a caller of some type. We have called in coyotes with a $45 caller, a $125 caller and a $250 caller, with and without extension speakers. It is a no-brainer to settle on the Primos Alpha Dogg once you buy one because it is so good, but you don’t have to start there as an initial investment. Primos sells the sounds online for as little as $1.99 and you could make your own calling routine with an Ipod and a boombox. There are however advantages to a professional caller with a remote control. You can technically control the Primos caller from 200 yards away, which gives you a ton of freedom to lay out your target field between you and the caller.
If you are creative, and you use professional sounds, you will call in dogs. We can’t stress enough that no one thing works all the time anyway, so you might as well try what you can afford and see what happens. If your coyotes have no pressure and this is the first they have heard any electronic call, you have a good chance of success, but you are better to not push the capabilities of the caller. Don’t increase volume to the point of distortion. Just like fly fishing, one thing that is “wrong” to a coyote is going to keep them from coming in to you. There are also some mouth calls you can buy, but unless electronic calls aren’t legal where you hunt (no idea where that would be), there is no point practicing with a call when you can just hit the play button. We are not purists when it comes to coyotes and haven’t even tried the mouth calls.
You are probably asking “what about baiting?” and yes, we have tried that. But it only works with a committed bait pile, which can be difficult to maintain and can worsen your coyote problem. Early morning hunting can be good in a location where you put out bait the night before, but just putting out bait, like a hog carcass or spoiled supermarket chicken , doesn’t seem to work on the night you put it out with the caller. Because they didn’t kill it, they probably think that something else did, and that something is probably dangerous. Eventually, if you leave any kind of fresh meat out all night,(except during prime frog season), the coyotes will come in at some point and try to drag it off. If you stake it down they will work on it some, but you would have to stay out and awake all night to catch them at it. Their own kill is a whole different story, and that you can reliably hunt over the next night. A bait pile works much the same way. Once they get accustomed to the food being there with no outside threats, you can hunt over it easily, but it is also going to draw in more coyotes, which you may or may not want. You could maintain a bait pile for two weeks then get busy and not be able to hunt it, and find that you are losing a calf a night to all the hungry coyotes that came in to feed and now don’t want to leave.
About the best piece of advice you will find in the hunting columnists on coyotes is to get up and move your set if it isn’t working, especially hunting during the day. You aren’t going to slowly draw a coyote in from a half a mile away. They just aren’t that curious, and they are extremely territorial. Ground blinds work great for coyotes, so you can pick up your set and move on after 20 minutes or so without a lot of difficulty. If nothing comes in within 20 minutes, our experience is that nothing is coming in. Don’t hang in there. Pick up the blind, get in your vehicle and move, then spray down, sneak into your next location and set up quietly, then get on the caller. If a dog is going to come in it will be because you startled him and his instincts forced him to react. And again, remember that he is going to eventually get a whiff of you, so kill him as soon as you get a look. And when you move, don’t forget about the wind. As you walk in to your set, use a ribbon or some baby powder to see where the wind is coming from. The dogs are usually going to come in perpendicular to the wind directly towards the sound of the caller.
One last note about day hunting is that it helps to have some kind of moving decoy. These are generally some sort of battery powered critter looking thing that spins or wabbles. We bought about half a dozen and can’t seem to find much of a difference one to the other. There are some decoys that look like an actual animal, like a deer fawn, and some that are just a tuft of hair. If you use a fawn, you are stuck with fawn sounds, or at least you would assume that. We generally use the generic Mojo Critter decoy and set it in some something that it will rustle. At the very least a decoy gives the coyote something to focus on besides you, and if he believes it is a struggling and vulnerable animal, he may charge right in, though we have never seen that during the day.
Night Hunting for Coyotes
There are two approaches we have engineered for night coyote hunting , both from a minimalist, as inexpensive as possible, approach. The first is to buy a night vision riflescope. We have found Gen 1 scopes with built in IR to work just fine out to 100 yards or so, which is coyote distance in most areas. The scopes being sold under the Yukon name in the $400 price range are slightly better than the ATN brand at the same price. Neither are super clear or have super distinct reticles, but both can be zeroed during the day with an integral pinhole scope cap, and both seem to hold zero reasonably well. The IR on the Yukon is integral and runs from the same battery as the scope, unlike the ATN which uses a separate 123A battery for its IR. You don’t have to use an IR illuminator on clear and starry nights, but it never hurts. Coyotes can see some of the IR spectrum but we have never seen them spooked by IR illuminators. The downside to a night vision scope is that they tire your eyes to look through them for very long, and the reticle is electronic and precise long range shots are almost impossible.
The alternative to night vision is a strange device made by Gamo called LaserGenetics. They call it a “target designator” which sounds like something from Operation Desert Storm, but really it is just a green laser flashlight that you mount on to your normal riflescope. Depending on how tightly you focus the beam, the LaserGenetics flashlight illuminates your target out to several hundred yards, and gives you a viable and somewhat easy shot , without ever having to replace your scope or re-zero your rifle. It sounds like a joke. You would think that a mighty hunter projecting an inch thick green laser beam in the middle of the night out in the wilderness would stick out like a sore thumb, but this is not the case. It is the kind of thing that you have to see to believe, but the green beam doesn’t spook game at all. We now own six LaserGenetics ND3 lights and we have tested them on dozens of coyotes, hogs, and even alligators. None of them are spooked by the green light, or even seem to notice it at all. The LaserGenetics lights have to be the greatest discovery in the history of night hunting ever.
You may also want to get a pair of Gen 1 night vision binoculars, or at least a monocular. Whether you are hunting with a night vision scope or the green light, neither of them were created for glassing a large area, and it gets tiring attempting to do so with your rifle. Inexpensive Gen 1 binoculars are not easy to find under $400 but a new pair under the Yukon brand has just come on to Amazon of late for $300. We have yet to review them. The pair you see here is Russian, under the Baigish brand, and you can find them around at times for under $200. Again, Gen 1 without IR is fine for starlight and moonlight in open fields, but if you want to see under trees and inside thickets you have to get the IR, or a higher generation of night vision. It is a good investment in coyote country. You will find that in most places where coyotes are a problem, killing a few will alleviate your problem only for a short while. There is very little hunting pressure on coyotes and if your land has the requisite water and food to bring in one pack of dogs, another will follow soon after you kill the first. The subject of “predator hunting” may be popular, and it may seem like there are a lot of people out hunting coyotes, but there are far less hunters than coyote problems nationwide and in many parts of the country the farms and ranches are being overrun. You probably have so little pressure on your coyotes that you can go out any night, set up the caller and kill several with no preparation whatsoever.
Win the Battle, Win the War
Very few hunters really “get” the coyote game because it is so different from almost all other hunting. You may be riding around in the middle of the day tending your cow feeders when a coyote walks right in front of you. That is why you have seen us call the Kel-Tec PMR-30 and PLR-16 perfect ranch guns. Likewise that Ruger Single Nine in .22WMR. If ever there was a wild west in the hunting world, it is coyote hunting. A quick gun is going to be better than the ideal gun any day of the week, and a big heavy bolt or lever rifle may be great for some things, but it isn’t going to be quick enough for coyotes in many cases.
The most telling story about coyotes from this summer was the frogs. Dwayne spent all night out with a client listening to coyotes chase frogs while completely ignoring the caller. It was agony hearing the dogs less than 200 yards away, playing with frogs until 4am in terrain too dangerous to enter at night. The very next day, after an unsuccessful hunt that night, another client killed a coyote that walked right out in front of the vehicle. The gun was the Springfield XD-S .45ACP in his pocket . We would have put this article out months ago if not for those events. It taught us there that is no magic formula for coyotes, even at night. You just have go out and try it with your available resources, and if it doesn’t work, move, and try again, and move and try again. Ultimately you are waiting for the coyote to make a mistake, and they are cunning and ruthless predators. While you may be a great hunter, with the right camo, the right scent killer and right caller sounds, coyotes do the hunting game for a living. After a couple more months of research with a dozen or so more hunting clients, Dwayne has come to the conclusion that your surest bet is to hunt over a recent kill at night. But if all else fails, we have heard that wily coyotes have a particular weakness for Acme dynamite. If you get frustrated enough with them circling you just out of sight, give it a go.