7 Ways To Rock Your Next Coyote Rut Hunt

It's not the rut that gets all the press, but come February, love-sick coyotes have a chink in their ultra-wary armor. Here's how to take advantage.

by Mark Kayser

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark


It’s not the rut that gets all the press, but come February, love-sick coyotes have a chink in their ultra-wary armor. Here’s how to take advantage.

CoyRut7 900Most hunters cannot wait for the rut. It is the time of year when they know their quarry could make a fatal mistake, and step casually into their sights. You might be thinking it is a little late for reading about rut tactics, but for coyotes, the breeding season begins in January and extends through the month of February. Yep, we’re right now in the midst of the wild and crazy coyote rut.CoyRut8 900Like the whitetail rut, breeding season for coyotes holds many pros for savvy hunters. Those pros include random wandering looking for a mate; behavior that accounts for many more sightings. Coyotes are also susceptible to specific strategies (outlined below), as they seek receptive mates. Finally, once coyotes do pair up, they oftentimes become guarded about their territory, and regularly tussle with intruders. That adds up to even more strategic opportunities.

For a change of pace in your late-season calling playbook, consider utilizing tactics that play on the positives that Valentine’s month offers opportunistic coyote hunters.

A Howling Good Time. Howls work at any time of the year to lure a coyote into V-Max range, but sometimes less is best when it comes to breeding season. The “less is best” message equates to the lone howl. Step into the mind of a February coyote and you may see why.

First, any lone coyote that has not paired up yet is looking for a mate. They may respond to group howls hoping to snag a date from the social gathering, but a lone howl to a coyote represents two things. First, it signals another coyote proclaiming, “I’m out here, where are you?” Second, it represents an opportunity to meet with another lone coyote and avoid a gang fight. Although love may be in the air, so is territoriality. Coyotes that have paired up and established a region as their home territory are often guarded about other coyote visitors. This becomes even more evident as denning season nears. Coyotes do not like visitors at this point, and a lone coyote is an easy target to a pair or more.CoyRut3 900My typical breeding season setup starts out with a lone howl; I’ll repeat it several times and then sit back and wait. If nothing shows up after approximately 45 minutes, I will howl a short series again, and wait an additional 15 minutes just in case a far-off coyote was zeroing in on my location. When my patience runs out, I will move on and try again a mile or more away.

Even if you do not get a response, sit and wait the entire time. Most coyotes are young of the year and may trot in to look, but typically, will not announce their presence. Older coyotes may or may not howl back, particularly if they have a suspicious nature from past, bad experiences. And even loudmouths that howl back without reservation may stay hidden forever like Jimmy Hoffa.CoyRut5 900You Kids Just Whine And Fight. Coyotes have a large library of vocalizations. If you listen to your own dog or the neighbor’s, you can hear the varied language. Although howls are heard the most, breeding-season females incorporate high-pitched yips and whines into their vocabulary. This tells other coyotes in the area that breeding might be on the calendar. A quick review of your digital caller likely will reveal the estrus whine, estrus chirp or estrus yip as library inclusions. You can also practice on diaphragms and open-reed howlers to mimic the sounds of willing female coyotes. Variations of these basic sounds vary, but typically, the desired vocalization sounds like a dog whining—and that whining sends a message of willingness.


To give a coyote plenty to think about, use a combination of calls. A great trio includes the abbreviated coyote estrus yip, the extended estrus whine, and the basic howl. Estrus yips are short, simple and high pitched. Three or four advertise a female is in the area. Coyote males perk up their ears when they hear these yips. Now that you have a male’s attention add in the estrus whine. This call sounds like your own dog whining for attention, to be let out, or yearning for a table scrap. You want to sound demanding, and this could seal the deal on any setup. You can end a setup right there, or cap it off with a short series of lone howls to advertise your exact location—and possibly the fact you might be moving on.CoyRut6 900If you really want to make it sound like a swinger’s party is going on at your setup location, include the sounds of bickering of coyotes. Your sound library likely includes something as basic as “canine fighting” or the commotion of coyotes fighting with raccoons, or even a fox. Any squabble, growls, yips and gnashing of teeth can change the attitude of a barely interested coyote to a coyote smashing the gas pedal to arrive for the pre-game festivities.

Why do fighting sounds work in the breeding season? Yipping could occur as a female comes into heat. Her estrus whines combined with the overly anxious attempts of a male to breed could also cause a scuffle. Plus, if you have two or more overly rambunctious males pestering a protective female, an all-out brawl could ensue.CoyRut9 900If you incorporate whines, yips or fights into your setup, be prepared to tap into the same “patience mode” as when using howls alone; you need to wait for up to an hour at each setup. Remember, coyotes have a large territory—which typically expands in late winter as food becomes harder to find. If nothing answers a particular setup, move on and try it again. If you had success on earlier hunts, or marked the location of howls in your HuntStand app, you already have pre-programmed locations to visit. Simply check the HuntStand wind forecast and move to the next-favorable site.CoyRut1 900Is That You Over There? Whether you are hunting wide-open terrain or simply trying to direct a coyote into an upwind arrival zone, a decoy can do the trick. Coyote likenesses bolster suspicious coyotes, and may even incite a fight for territory. It makes sense in breeding season as coyotes are scanning for the maker of your love-song message. If you do not want to tote around a mounted coyote or even one of the full-sized models on the market, look at photo-quality models like the Montana Decoy Kojo or Song Dog coyote decoys.

Place the decoy in an upwind, open, elevated setting for any approaching coyote to see. Placing it upwind ensures a coyote will try and circle downwind, so leave a shooting zone where it can pass between you and your location. If a remote-controlled electronic caller is your mainstay, set the decoy next to it for combined foolery.

Over the years I’ve loaded up my favorite large-capacity ALPS OutdoorZ pack with lots of gear, and typically a Kojo decoy is folded up inside for quick deployment. Depending on the mood of the local coyotes and situation, today I typically hunt with my pet “coyote dog” by my side most of the year (see him posing proudly in photo at top). Many of my setups occur at dawn and dusk, and my pet hound is a bonus to most any breeding season setup—he appears to be a shadowy coyote sitting and waiting, or snooping around my position, often just enough to attract a curious coyote.

On most setups my furry friend never goes into action and simply watches as a bystander, but when a coyote does hang up, the movement of a dog in the area often irks a coyote just enough to sneak closer into range of my trusty Bergara.

Howling Made Easy. Digital callers include a library of sounds of both prey and predator. In the coyote category you will find a dozen or more vocalizations to utilize on your mission to talk back to coyotes. Even with this fingertip control, I still do most of my vocalizations by mouth. Coyote howlers and diaphragms with megaphones give you more flexibility, more control and a quicker option to respond to a talkative coyote.


In the heat of a heated conversation, you do not want to waste time scrolling through call options when you could simply mimic a response utilizing a mouth call. Remember, responding quickly (especially cutting off) a coyote can often irk them into an appearance.RockyMountainStealthDirtyDog 900Over the years I have utilized diaphragms as my go-to for howling, yipping and barking, when required. Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls manufactures some of the best-sounding elk calls on the market, and they have expanded their diaphragm line to include the great-sounding Yote Howler Diaphragm. If you have gagging issues with diaphragms, they also have a complete line of howlers including the easy-to-operate Stealth Dirty Dog (shown above) or Stealth Yipper Yapper. They are a realistic way to incorporate sounds that may not be found on your electronic caller.CoyRut4 900Make sure you get your own special someone a memorable Valentine this month, but be sure to save some time to chase your local mating coyotes. Much like rutting whitetails, love-sick coyotes are right now much more likely to make a few fatal mistakes—just before prime fur season ends.



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