Commit to coyotes

Hunting season 2015 marked the peak of my frustration with coyotes. On multiple occasions my hunting partners and I had daylight encounters with the animals best known for their post-daylight presence. My father even arrowed a mature song dog mid-morning in late November. Predator management is a perfect example of hunting as a conservation tool. Unfortunately, not enough hunters (myself included) take the time to work on this side of conservation. Sure, it’s different, a bit more difficult and time consuming compared to what most of us understand in deer hunting. I’m right there in the guilty department.  

 Feeling the urge to try, my cousin and I hiked to the corner of a corn field in the late afternoon daylight with rifles in hand and a simple distressed rabbit call. Twenty-five turkeys milled round about 400 yards from our corner. With plenty of song dog tracks melted into the crusted snow, we felt our chances were high to see a coyote as a consolation prize for our efforts.

Our first stand lasted about 40 minutes with nothing to show for until a ‘note broke the flock in two. Unable to believe what we were seeing at the other end of the corn field, the coyote knew he missed his chance at a turkey dinner and was trotting toward my truck. Several squeals later he cut the distance to 150 yards and presented a beautiful broadside shot. Unfortunately, he was at the skyline of the hill and we chose safety over success. The coyote wouldn't stand for it and made like a bat out of hades for the tree line

Getting close to the coyote was enough to prompt us to try it again. But before we headed out again I wanted to get a few tips on coyote hunting to help break down the basics. In my travels I’ve accumulated basic tips from guides and personalities alike on hunting these animals

1)    Wind:  Wind direction is as critical to predator hunting as it is in deer hunting. Perfect varmint stands can be ruined because of poor positioning and setup. Keep in mind, when you call in a coyote one time and he realizes you’re not food, it may never come to that call again.

2)  Watch Your Six: One should expect to see most animals making a circle around you to try and catch your scent. If the only area you can see is straight upwind, you’ll likely miss seeing most of your game.  If you have a particular predator setup make sure to cut shooting lanes to the sides to catch circling game.

3)  Calling: Calling is obviously a huge part of this game since we all have images in our minds of blasting away on a call and having song dongs charge in. But just like calling in turkeys or waterfowl, there is an art to calling. Overcalling can be a big mistake. Not that continuous calling is bad, but if you actually see the animal take notice of your call then proceed to continue on his path, don’t blow your hand call up or turn your FoxPro up to max volume. He saw you and he knows almost exactly where the sound is coming from. If he’s interested, he’ll make his way toward or around you shortly.

4)  The Method: Start off with small light sounds; make it sound natural. Take inventory of where you hunt. When you’re in a tight area (40-200 yards of vision) don’t blast your call, just use squeals or small bird sounds. Then, after a few minutes work in the usual sequences.

5)  Time: Predator hunting isn't easy; like all other types of hunting experience and time are the keys to learning. Be careful not to over-hunt a spot if you do not have tons of land. One bad setup can spook a predator like a coyote from ever wanting to work the call again, just like blowing a mature buck from your favorite field.

NewYork is a good state for hunting; don’t let people tell you otherwise. To make it great, together as a combined group of sportsmen we need to commit to the same goals working simultaneously and in unison to lead in our state. Something small like predator hunting can seem insignificant at the time but can be a part of a larger and attainable goal to unlock the potential of this state.

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