Not sure how to find a killer calling site? Start with these two simple, widespread scenarios to bag more foxes and coyotes this season.

FoxVSLead600A welcome late-afternoon sun warmed my back nicely as I sat against a pile of rotting logs, doing my best to sound like an injured rabbit. My setup was at the edge of an ancient farmyard abandoned so long ago, not even memories remained. But the coyotes stayed, and apparently, were thriving. I’d never hunted this spot without seeing at least one. However, today was the exception. After a solid 15 minutes of calling, nothing showed.

Suddenly a flash of orange on the far side of an old weathered fence caught my eye. An instant later a red fox ducked neatly under the fence—and stared right at me. When I’d recovered from the surprise, my .223 Remington barked and anchored Old Reynard in his tracks. And I had my first fox of the season.

Taking that fox was a shock, as the location had always been a hotspot for coyotes. And typically, you won’t find many foxes in an area with a large coyote population. After collecting my fox, I scouted the area, and the coyote sign was minimal. It looked like the yotes had moved out, and the foxes had moved in. I’m still trying to figure out the reason. But the situation demonstrated a basic rule of nature; big dogs eat little dogs. Yes, coyotes kill foxes, and wolves return the favor on coyotes. It’s one of the key things to remember when targeting foxes. If there’s an abundance of coyote sign in a particular area, your chances of finding a fox are reduced.

The aforementioned hunt also reinforced my findings, that one of the best places to hunt foxes is an abandoned farmyard. And if you live in farming and ranching country, as I do, the growth of big industrial farms means there is no shortage of empty homesteads. My best guess as to why foxes hang around these areas is the food source they provide. The old buildings, woodpiles, and overgrown tree lots are a natural home for mice and birds, a staple of every fox’s diet. Just about every fox I’ve ever taken has been within a few hundred yards of an abandoned farmyard or building of some type. Haunting such structures is my “go-to” plan when targeting Mr. Red.

Another key to my plan, is using calling sounds matching the fox’s chief prey. This means primarily mouse squeaks and/or bird sounds. Foxes are small, so when targeting them, use the sounds of smaller prey. This is no time for the bawls of a moose calf that has lost its mother. Think small and weak, and you won’t go wrong with foxes.

FoxVSCow600Herds of cattle are virtual grocery stores for area coyotes, which are much more aggressive scavengers than foxes.

Coyotes are another matter. When I’m looking for coyotes, I look for cattle. Find cattle and you’ve found coyotes. Last week, sunrise found me sitting on a hillside in an attempt to ambush some coyotes. That part of the plan didn’t work, but when the fog lifted I got to watch a pack of six coyotes working the edges of a distant herd of cows. I watched them move into their daytime cover and then quickly called two friends for help. We set up a combined calling/ambush operation, focusing on the trees where I’d seen the yotes disappear. Once we executed the plan we quickly put three of them on the ground. In another week I’ll be back for the rest.

Coyotes will happily respond to the sounds of prey animals much larger than a fox would consider. But finding the favored haunts of the wily predators is still the key to success.

Small-prey sounds work well on coyotes too, but so do fawn-in-distress and big noisy jackrabbit cries. Coyotes will happily respond to the sounds of prey animals much larger than a fox would consider. But finding the favored haunts of the wily predators is still the key to success. In my part of the world, cattle are that key. In other areas it may be sheep, pigs, or chickens, but that previously mentioned industrial-sized farming can attract industrial-sized packs of coyotes. The reason coyotes hang around cattle is not because they plan on taking down a cow and eating it; they leave that to wolves. Coyotes are there to scavenge, something they do much more aggressively than foxes. Maybe it’s the size thing again.

Alcoyote600The author with a prime winter coyote, taken after careful consideration of the wind and calling location.

In any case, that scavenging personality is a good way to arrange a coyote’s demise. Start a calling session with a non-aggressive howl, or throw a mix of raucous crow sounds into the ruse, as a way of making a coyote think his personal grocery cupboard is being raided. Coyotes have no problems chasing off some other critter in the process of collecting a meal, especially a meal they interpret as being on their home turf. A yote’s more-aggressive, scavenging personality is why farmers and ranchers hate them, but it’s something we can use against them to help out these landowners.

Are you seeing the similarity between calling foxes and calling coyotes? Success at both is much like success in the real estate market. It’s all about location, location, location. You need to lock your prey’s suspected location into your “targeting computer” before deciding where or when to call. Once you’ve got your local canines’ living quarters figured out, and you know the sounds you want to use, it’s time to slip in for the kill.

Wise use of the wind is another key consideration in calling both foxes and coyotes. All predators live by their noses, and will try to get downwind of that tempting sound you’re broadcasting. This means whenever possible, set yourself up so the prevailing breeze is blowing your scent into an open field, or maybe, across a frozen lake or pond. Never give a canine the opportunity to get downwind without being seen. If he does, he’s gone. This is just one way in which the HuntStand Hunting app can help you plan your hunting day. Get in the habit of constantly checking HuntStand’s ScentCone Wind Map in the days before you go hunting. Then, modify where and how you plan to hunt—even where you will park and the smartest access routes—according to the current wind direction.

Pay attention to the details that really matter, and when your calling lures in that next predator—whether it be red, gray, brown or mottled—you’ll know you did things right. Then all you’ll have to do is shoot straight, and it’ll be time to get out your favorite skinning knife and an empty stretching board.

Increasing use of coyote sounds, finding late-season food sources, and adding a decoy to your setup can deliver scary-consistent season-ending success.


Sunset had already redecorated the western sky when my hunting partner and I sat down beside an old gnarled poplar to begin our last calling sequence of the day.

“We’ve only got 20 minutes,” I whispered to my novice companion. “There will likely be two of them. They’ll come from the right, across that barley stubble. One will be more aggressive than the other and come in quicker. He’ll be the larger of the two, but shoot the back one first if you can; if not take the lead dog. One on the ground is better than none at all.” With that, I left him to cover the most-likely avenue of approach, and turned to watch what I call “the back door.”

I love it when coyotes “read the script” and know what they’re supposed to do. Soon after my calling began—right on cue—a pair of ‘yotes showed up exactly where I’d predicted. And even better, they behaved in the precise manner I predicted, the lead dog charging in hard, and a second following behind more timidly. We got them both; the last one going face-first into the sparse grain stubble with 10 minutes of legal shooting time remaining.

Was our success simply good luck? Sure, a successful coyote hunt always has an element of luck to it, and I typically need lots of it to consistently put fur in the back of my truck. But these were late-season coyotes, and I think that version of Mr. Coyote is easier to pattern and predict than those we hunt at any other time of year. So, when I went out on limb and “predicted” where these yotes would come from, how many there would be, and how they’d approach, I was fairly confident in getting it right.

LateCattle600In most locales late-season predator hunting coincides with calving or lambing season for local farmers. Even better, many of those farmers will welcome your presence during this critical time.
In most places coyote season is open all year long on private land, but I consider the “late season” to be the latter part of what is normally considered the “fur season.” That means February and March in my part of the world. Although the fur isn’t much good in March, these two months can produce some great hunting. It’s also the time of year when my phone rings the most with calls from landowners eager to discuss coyote problems.

woodlineHunter600No matter when you’re hunting predators, wind awareness and effective concealment are always important. Be sure to plan your hunt using the HuntStand Hunting app, which can also tip you off to smarter calling setups.
Which leads to the first rule of finding late-season coyotes—find a food source. And the absolute best food source at this time of year is some place where birthing/calving is going on. It’s one of the things that makes coyotes easy to predict during this season. And it’s why I could make such a confident prediction during the hunt at the beginning of this article. You see, just over the hill and out of sight, was a feedlot full of calving Angus cattle. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out any herd where calving is going on will be surrounded by coyotes. And of course, the landowners will love you for every local coyote taken out of circulation.

LoneYote600Once mated, coyotes will spend significant time and energy patrolling their territory and defending it from intruders…a near-ideal scenario for savvy late-season hunters.
This is also the time of year when coyotes start to get extremely territorial, which is their second weakness. In February and March, they won’t tolerate competition for love or food, and actively work to chase any competitors away. If you can convince them you’re the competition, they’ll turn themselves inside out trying to get at you.

Playing this type of “con game,” means resorting to coyote vocalizations on your e-caller or mouth call. Sounds like a “challenge howl” can be particularly effective, as can non-aggressive “interrogation howls” and the “ki-yi’s” of an injured coyote. While a good electronic caller will have these sounds in its memory bank, you don’t need to go digital to make them. A 20-dollar mouth-blown howler will work just fine. You’ll need to do an internet search and find sound clips of what these vocalizations sound like, and then put in a little practice. But it’s not hard—if it was, I couldn’t do it.

YoteCalls600Coyote vocalizations should be your “go-to” sounds during late winter or early spring; challenge howls are especially useful to lure aggressive animals.
Just remember, all you need to do is convince your audience there is an intruder in the area. And referring again to the opening hunt, challenge howls were what caused those two coyotes to come charging in; the lead dog, as usual, being a male and taking on the role of aggressor and protector.

That aggressive behavior illustrates a third and final trick for hunting late-season coyotes. What you could call the “coyote rut” starts around the end of January and stretches into early March. And like buck deer with love on their minds, a coyote’s caution at this time often takes a back seat to love. While coyotes are monogamous and will take only a single mate for the season, they will travel a long way to find a suitable one, and fight to defend their territory once it’s established. This is just another reason why those same coyote vocalizations we talked about earlier work so well at this time of year.

YoteDecoy600A life-size decoy can make normally shy, wary coyotes go nearly insane with aggression, making them easy targets. Make that first shot count!
To take the final step, team those coyote sounds with a life-size coyote decoy and you might see normally shy, wary animals go almost insane with aggression. A pair of yotes I encountered last spring provided a great example. I’d only unleashed two howls when they stepped out of the trees to get a look at me; but the wind betrayed me and they got a face-full of human scent as they exposed themselves. The pair dove back into cover immediately, but not before getting a good look at my decoy. So, I played to that and started calling those yotes every dirty name in a coyote’s vocabulary. It worked! The pair came back out looking for a fight, even after their noses told them—categorically—that a human was sitting beside that lone coyote insulting their honor. I’d never seen a pair of more pissed-off coyotes.

YotewBull600Late-season coyotes are easier to predict and pattern than at any other time of year; make good use of the author’s hard-won tips and you’ll find that hunting late can indeed be great.
To be more successful on late-season predators, consider using one or more of the forementioned strategies every time you set up. And, as usual, hedge your bets by using your HuntStand Hunting app to plan each and every hunt. Checking your ScentCone along your entrance trail is wise insurance to ensure you don’t alert local predators before your hunt even begins, and you can also use the app’s satellite views to pinpoint the best setup spots without even leaving your home. After those critical steps, more late-season success can be broken down to a relatively straightforward formula. Hunt in the vicinity of calving herds of cattle, use coyote vocalizations to supplement or even substitute the usual prey sounds, and set out a decoy to take advantage of their territorial tendencies at this vulnerable time of year. If you can put all three together at once, you better have your rifle’s magazine loaded to its capacity.