Howling for coyotes
Howling is a very effective way to locate coyotes, and in one
very specific circumstance, howling can be used to bring a coyote
into gun range.
Here Clancy’s scoop on howling.
The locator howl
Coyotes are very communicative. They use barks, yips, whines,
growls, and a wide assortment of howls to communicate with other
coyotes in their packs and also with other individual coyotes and
other packs. Sometimes I think, especially on nights with a full
moon, coyotes howl just for the fun of it. Coyotes are most vocal
from sunset until an hour after dark and again in the morning just
before the first break of day, although they will howl off and on
all night. I have heard coyotes howl during the middle of the day
on a few different occasions, but this is not common.
I use howling to locate good calling places. In our part of the
country, coyotes are not so plentiful that you can just walk into
any old section and expect your calls to be heard by a coyote or
two, which is the case in many of the Western states. When I hike
into a section and set up to call, I want to be assured that
coyotes are hearing my calls. I cruise the backroads in my pickup
truck an hour or two before first light or for an hour or so after
sunset, stopping every quarter to half mile to howl and then listen
for a reply from a pack or a loner.
Hearing a reply, I note the location so that I can return later.
If I am familiar with the country, I will usually just tie a piece
of orange flagging to a nearby branch, road sign, or fence so that
I can find the exact location when I return. In less familiar
country, I will mark the spot on a county map or punch it into a
Most of the time I rely upon my well-traveled Johnny Stewart
electronic call and tape Coyote Locator. When I get to a howling
spot, I park, get out of the truck, hold the speaker at arm’s
length, turn the volume up about half way on the caller and slowly
move the speaker in a circle so that the sound is directed in all
directions. Then I turn the volume off and listen for a reply.
If there are coyotes around, they will already be howling when
you turn off the volume. If I don’t hear any, I crank the volume
all of the way up and repeat. If no answer, I’m back in the truck
and down the road. Using this method, I can locate two to six
locations from which to call in a morning or evening of
If you don’t have an electronic caller, use a mouth blown call.
The best I have used is the CH-1 from Johnny Stewart. It is easy to
blow and has good volume. To learn to make howls on the CH-1, pick
up the instructional tape ICT 402 Secrets Of Successful Coyote
Howling. I’m firmly convinced that one of the most important things
you can do to up your calling success is to locate coyotes with
howls before calling.
The lone coyote challenge
This howl is designed to bring a dominant male coyote to the
gun. It is very effective right now because the coyotes in our part
of the country do most of their breeding from late January through
the month of February. Coyotes are territorial, and every pack of
coyotes will have one alpha male, or “boss dog.” This dominant male
performs the bulk of the breeding duties within the pack’s
territory. If a dominant male hears the challenge howl from a
would-be challenger, the response is usually dramatic and
immediate. The dominant male will rush in to battle the challenger.
I’ve had a couple of big males nearly in my lap while using the
challenge howl. That gets your attention!
The challenge howl is not a good call for calling in numbers of
coyotes, because it is usually only effective on the dominant male
in each territory, although on two occasions I have had a pair of
coyotes respond. I assume that the dominant male was already in the
company of a female when he heard the lone coyote challenge and the
female just tagged along when he responded to my howling. Bad
But usually, the challenge howl is only going to be of interest
to the biggest and smartest male coyote in the area. When calling
at this time of the year, I will often start off with the challenge
howl in the hopes that there is a dominant male within hearing
distance. I’ll wait 10 minutes for the boss dog to show himself. If
he has not arrived by then, odds are good he is not within hearing
of the challenge howl. I will then switch to a conventional call,
like a cottontail in distress or fawn bleat, something that will
appeal to any coyote.
This gets you started howling. Once you give it a try, I think
you will agree with me that howling is a very important component
in successful calling.
If you want to learn more about calling and howling, attend one
of the seminars I will be giving at the Minnesota Deer Classic on
March 16, 17, and 18. As soon as I have a seminar schedule I will
run it at the end of one of my columns here in Outdoor News.