Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967


Coyote hunting is permitted day and night all year long in Wisconsin. (Photo by Bill Kinney / Windigo Images)

Part 1: hunting farmlands

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series about coyote hunting during the winter.

By Tom Carpenter

Contributing Writer

Farmlands are rich with coyotes, but it still takes woodcraft and effort to dupe an experienced song dog into range.

Compared with other types of habitat, agricultural landscapes have experienced a big increase in coyote populations over the past decade.

Private land access for predator hunting can be easy to get, which is good news. But that doesn’t mean farmland coyotes are easy to hunt.

On the contrary. These coyotes are pressured and persecuted by nearly everybody – folks who hear the howling at night, know where they live, pursue them with a vengeance, and educate the canine predators on the ways of hunters.

Here’s another challenge: agricultural habitat varies from rolling farm country with a mix of woodlots to row-crop country punctuated by sloughs and grasslands and beef country, with its expansive pastures and wooded river bottoms.

They’re all different. No single setup fits all. As a hunter, you have to be as adaptable as the coyotes you’re chasing.

Those landscapes have two things in common, though: limited cover and ample open areas across which to draw coyotes. The trick is getting in unseen when the wind is blowing from likely coyote lairs to you, setting up quietly, calling with a purpose, and staying patient.

Don’t overestimate the amount of cover a coyote needs. Where I hunt coyotes, frozen cattail sloughs serve as the hideout of choice. In the dairy farm country where I grew up, brushy, abandoned pastures harbor higher densities of coyotes than do traditional woodlots.

Furthermore, never underestimate the craftiness of farmland coyotes. They may be used to vehicles and farm implements being driven around, but not yours. So sneak in on foot instead.

Farmland parcels can be small, with only a limited area or two for setups. If the wind is wrong, hold off and hunt the area another day rather than educate the coyotes even more.

Set up across fields, pastures, or meadows and call into cover – grasslands, wetlands, fence lines, brushy thickets, forgotten orchards, fallow meadows, ditches, and other locations where prey would hide out and coyotes could be prowling. Be certain the wind is blowing to you, or at the very least, across the space between you and the cover, then attempt to draw the coyotes out.

Farmland coyotes need big sound to get their attention and then some finessing to get them to commit. You can do both jobs with one call. Primos’ Raspy Coaxer creates long-range prey screams to get things started. Then, by covering one port with a finger, you can make little whines and whimpers.

Some farmland coyotes have heard it all when it comes to rabbit-in-distress sounds. That’s when you have to appeal to their territoriality or (late in winter) their sex drive. Howlers and pup/female calls make the coyote sounds you need.

Core coyote concepts

When using prey-in-distress calls, think about the process in two stages. First is calling – loud and squawky to get their attention and get a coyote moving. Then comes coaxing. Be ready with a mouse squeaker to lure that slinking varmint the rest of the way, or into the open.

Two guns beat one. A farmland coyote might lurk at 100 yards or more – or it may come barging to within 100 feet. Carry a rifle and a shotgun to cover both scenarios. Better yet, hunt with a partner. One carries the rifle, one the shotgun. As a team, you’re then ready for shots at any range. Anytime you can get out of the house is a great day to hunt winter coyotes. But ideal conditions come on those bitter cold days after a storm front has passed through.

The coyotes were hunkered down in cover and holed up in their dens, but now they’re out and about and hungry. The colder, the better. Put on your white clothes and go.

In Part 2, we’ll discuss hunting forest and woodland coyotes.

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