Most of my predator hunting is done on private land, but early in the season I’ll often hit a large tract of nearby public land that quickly becomes inaccessible once the snow starts to fly. I’ve just returned from that area, where I found signs other hunters had already been there, leaving coyotes educated to calling in their wake. It took me two stands to clue in, but once I adjusted tactics accordingly, I put three coyotes on the ground in short order.
To successfully take educated predators it’s important to realize they’ve likely received their doctorate from inexperienced hunters using e-callers. Therefore, the first step is to avoid sounding like a typical electronic sound track. And the typical electronic track has three features: 1) it’s a rabbit distress sound, 2) it’s played far too loud, and 3) the distress sound plays constantly. Change those characteristics and you have a good chance of success.
I did just that when I set up next, on the edge of a large meadow, with my back against a sturdy poplar where the wind could carry my scent into the open. I called using a Loess Hills Outfitter's Jack Yelp call, being careful to keep my volume in the low to moderate range, while allowing long periods of silence between squalls. This call works at a higher pitch than your typical rabbit-in-distress and with a little manipulation will emit some creative sounds even a cock pheasant if you practice it. It took about 10 minutes until I caught sight of a coyote slinking in along the tree line toward me, and once it cleared some brush I dropped it at the 75-yard mark. I kept calling and caught a glimpse of another one, but the gunshot had apparently been too much and it was never seen again.
After hanging that big male from a nearby fallen tree and removing the hide, I moved on and did another stand. That turned out to be a dry hole, with nothing to show for it but 20 minutes of restful sitting.
A long walk took me to the edge of a boggy area, where a favourable wind again carried my scent into an open field. This time I changed sounds completely and used a howler to do pup distress, leaving 1 minute or more of silence between series. I was in the middle of the third series when I spotted a pale coyote to my right, racing full speed toward me. It kept that pace all the way to the 100-yard mark, where it stopped. I dropped it there and did more pup distress. Within minutes a second coyote showed up, following the same track as the first one, and coming just as hard. It stopped near the first one and got a bullet too. When I walked over to pick them up, they were only 10 paces apart.
All these coyotes had heard calls before, but presenting non-typical sounds in a different manner was all it took to fool them. It’s a trick worth remembering the next time you encounter educated coyotes.