Field Report: Calling Illinois Coyotes

IL coyote 1Longtime Big Deer blogger Scott from MI went on his annual coyote hunt down in Illinois and filed this report, which includes great info on calling coyotes and coyote guns and loads:

Hi Mike: We had a great coyote hunt the other weekend in Illinois. We hunt along the Mississippi River in the northwest corner of the state.

Weather was great, low in the teens and highs in the upper 20s and 30s. Most of the snow was melted with some hard icy spots left, so it made it a little difficult to sneak around and into our setups. Still, it was much better than previous years when we have had 12 to 24 inches of snow to deal with!

All of our normal group made it, my buddies John, Jason, Ryan and Mike, and Dad and me. Dad mentioned this may be his last year going with us, so I was hoping we could put a big coyote in his lap and make it a successful hunt for him.

We hunted in two groups of three the whole time, which seems to work pretty well. The caller and one or two guys covering downwind and watching the back door.

On the second call of the morning I set my FoxPro on top of a steep ridge and called down into some bottoms, with Dad and Mike sitting downwind of me. I started with some bird distress calls for a few minutes, then after a slight pause I added some raccoon fight sounds.

About eight minutes into the call I saw a coyote pop up from the bottom about 80 yards from me. He was limping in slowly on a hurt front leg. He got to about 60 yards and stood still for a moment, but right behind a large branch. I started lip-squeaking at him, and as he cleared the branch I put him down with my T/C Venture .243 using a Barnes Vortx 80-grain tipped triple shock. Nice male coyote that weighed around 30 pounds.

About an hour or so later my buddy John also scored on a nice coyote. John, Jason and Ryan had set up in one of our best spots overlooking a large ravine where we have killed a coyote almost every year.

John called with his FoxPro as well, using distressed rabbit sounds and switching between DSG & TT Frenzy. About 14 minutes, the critter came trotting along the bottom of the ravine. John put it down at about 80 yards with his Tikka .223 using 55-grain Hornady Vmax ammo.

Good start to the day!

Later that evening, an hour or so before dark, we set up on another large ravine that has produced in the past. Mike was calling with his FoxPro and hit a coyote howl–a pack of them lit up in the bottom a few hundred yards away! He continued to call for 15 minutes but couldn’t get them in. We decided to sneak up closer to where we had heard them and see if we could coax one in.

We stayed up a little higher on the ridge. I took center and Dad and Mike watched two fingers on each side of me in case one of the coyotes tried to back door us. I started doing some wounded coyote sounds with my mouth call; it’s actually the squealing hen turkey call, but it works well to mimic a wounded coyote as well.

After about eight minutes of blowing on the call, I heard something hit the barbwire fence to my right. Then about 10 seconds later I saw three coyote heads pop up from the bottom about 35 yards away! I stayed motionless, not making a noise, as I was positioned away from them and they were making their way up the hill towards Dad.

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They finally crested the hill enough for Dad to see one and he put the hammer down. After the shot the other two took off running, and Dad and I squeezed off a couple more shots, but a running coyote at 30 yards with a scoped rifle isn’t an easy target!

We got up and walked over the ravine and Dad’s coyote was lying right there. Heck yeah! we both yelled. It was a big male close to 40 pounds with a beautiful fur coat. Dad shot him with his Howa .223 using 55-grain Remington Premier Accutip varmint ammo.

That was #3 for the day! We celebrated with a couple cold beers later that night at the lodge.

Early afternoon on the second day Jason and Ryan set up on the same ridge top where I had shot a coyote on day one. Jason was doing some hybrid calling with the FoxPro and mouth calls combined. He mimicked some female whimper/mating mouth calls, and followed up with some challenge howls from the FoxPro.

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About 12 minutes in, he saw one trotting in along the bottom a good 200 yards away. He was waiting for Ryan to shoot because it was more in his direction, but Ryan could not see the critter from his position. Figuring this, Jason decided it was now or never before it got away. Jason took the shot at about 200 yards with his .22 Hornet and dropped the coyote in his tracks. It was a great shot through a small opening in the brush.

Jason went down to the bottom and recovered his yote, another beautiful and good-sized male around 40 lbs. The 35-grain Hornady Varmint Express has been a great load with that rifle; this was the third coyote in two years that he has dropped with it.

The next morning we headed back home with four nice yotes. It was as much fun as I can remember having on our trip and I look forward to seeing what next year brings. Maybe I can talk Dad into one more year. If not it’s good to know we went out with a bang!—Scott from Michigan

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Hunter Shoots Coyote That Attacked Doe!

NE adam coyoteThis from our friend Adam in Nebraska:

Today, I was reminded why I hunt predators.

As soon as my buddy Justin hit the caller, a doe whipped her head up from her bed 50 yards in front of me on the other side of the river. Thirty seconds in, as she’s analyzing the sound, she turns to look behind her.

Out of nowhere, a coyote leaps into the air and pounces on top of her. It latched onto the back of her neck and she stood and started to buck and kick. The coyote lost its hold and the doe ran into the middle of the river. The coyote chased her and stood on the bank yipping at her, where he got a 50-grain surprise from me.

Hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen while hunting. Only wish I could’ve caught it on video, as it was so surreal to see, and doubt I’ll ever see anything like it again.

We didn’t get any bobcats won again. But we didn’t get skunked, and we saved a few deer and calves in the process.–Adam

Coyote Hunting: Best Guns, Calls, Tips

 

coyote comprssedNow is a great time to try and bust a few coyotes on your land before the fawns start dropping in spring. Here’s a quick primer:

Find a Killer Setup: Look for a ridge top or hillside that overlooks a field, clear-cut, river bottom or other semi-open area. Try to set up and call where you can see well below, out to 100 or 200 yards or more. The farther you can see a coyote coming in, the more time you have to get your rifle up and prepare for the shot.

Coyote Sign: Coyote tracks are 2 to 3 inches long, with 4 toes and round pads. An adult critter’s scat is 2 to 5 inches long, round and fat. In winter, the scat will likely have hair and bone fragments from small prey in it. If you find lots of fresh tracks and scat along a field edge or in an old roadbed, look for an elevated calling spot close by and give it a go.

Get the Wind Right: Spray down with a scent-eliminator like you do when deer hunting. Walk and sneak into the wind to avoid contaminating an area with your scent before you make your first call. Try to take a straight-line route to your calling spot. Avoid wandering round and laying down scent in places where coyotes might approach your calls.

A day with a little wind, say 5 to 12 mph, is great. Many coyotes will come in to your calls from downwind, so set up for that.

Hunting with 2 guys is fun and effective. The shooter hides downwind from the caller, maybe 40 to 60 yards away depending on the setup. If a critter comes in downwind with his attention focused on the caller behind, the shooter picks him off.

Be Invisible: Gary Roberson, a predator-hunting expert from Texas, agrees that while playing the wind is most important, staying invisible is a close second. “You’ll never call in a critter that sees you first,” he says. “Try to keep the sun at your back as you sneak into a calling spot. Use the backsides of hills, ditches, deep creek bottoms and other terrains to conceal your approach.” Wear complete woods or prairie camo, and snow camo when there’s lots of snow on the ground. And be quiet. Don’t slam truck doors near a calling spot. On the walk in, go slow and easy.

Use Binoculars: Set up in a good spot, but before you start pounding on your calls, glass the countryside with 10X binos. Calling coyotes is no different than calling any game–it’s easier to lure a critter if you spot it first. Then you can call, watch the coyote and read its reaction. You’ll know whether to keep bawling to keep it moving—or to shut up and get your gun up because the predator is running in for a meal.

The Best Calls: Both electronic and mouth calls work, and there are lots of theories on using each. But the simplest and best advice I ever got was from David Hale, the game-calling legend from Kentucky. “Once you’re set up and ready, blow a rabbit-distress call for a minute or so,” he says. “Hit it good and loud. Look around; move your head slowly so a coyote coming in fast and close won’t bust you. If you don’t see anything, call for another minute, stop and look. Wait 2 to 4 minutes and call again.” Hale blows 5 sequences for good measure before he moves to a new spot. But most of the time, if a coyote is going to show, it comes to the first or second set of calls.

fink ar coyote compressedCoyote Guns: The old coyote standard—a scoped bolt-action rifle in .22-250 with a 55-grain bullet—is still the best. The next 2 most popular coyote cartridges are the .223 and .243. AR-platform rifles in .204 Ruger or .223 are hot these days. And don’t forget your deer rifle. Shooting a coyote or two with your whitetail rifle in .270, 7mm-08 or whatever is fun and great winter practice. Even your .30-06 is not too big! If you hunt woods or thick cover where a coyote might bust in close, think about carrying an open-sighted 12-gauge magnum with a heavy turkey or predator load along w/a rifle.

Call, Shoot, Stay Ready: If you call in one coyote and shoot it, stay still and hidden, and keep calling. A lot of times coyotes travel in pairs. The second one won’t always spook from the shot, and you might be able to stop it. Try a couple of barks from a mouth call and try to pull off a double.