What are the best coyote hunting setups? No matter the landscape or habitat type, coyote hunters can rely on a handful of fundamentals to get the job done. But some minor tweaks for each unique situation can make you an even more effective coyote hunter. I’m here to outline four of the most common coyote hunting setups and how you can use HuntStand to your advantage.
But first, let me share a memorable moment from coyote country …
I bet all my eggs that any coyote in the neighborhood would be traveling in the eroded gullies below my South Dakota ridgetop perch. One particularly deep, grassy swell lead from the gullies to me, paving a highway right into my sights. Hours earlier, during a midday break, I pulled up the property on my HuntStand app. After checking the HuntZone wind map, I virtually flew the property to find the ridge with a crosswind—forcing any coyote to at least show itself for a few seconds as it circled downwind. The topographical overlay revealed the deep gullies and I dropped a map marker on the location.
Thirty minutes before sunset, a burly coyote loped out of the eroded gullies to the sound of my agonized jackrabbit call. As it stopped short to survey the scene, I decided not to wait on a white-of-the-eye meeting and sent an ELD Match bullet greeting from 180 yards away. Mark 1, coyote 0.
Understanding coyote country and how these crafty animals navigate through it is essential to success. HuntStand Pro provides map layers, detailed property information, weather overlays, offline mapping, real 3D imagery, and more. Add this to your coyote scouting, virtually or on site, and you have a leg up on outwitting educated coyotes throughout the entire season.
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Coyote Hunting Setups: Farm Country
With farming and woodlots occurring nearly everywhere east of the Mississippi, prepare for this coyote battleground. While scouting, look for whitetail-like funnel features. Coyotes will lope anywhere, but the path of least resistance with associated cover has appeal. Think wetland strips, hedgerows, connecting strips of timber, open ridgetops and weedy fence lines. Now look for adjacent openings where you could pull a coyote from the veiled travel route into a gap for a peek at your calls. Instead of trying to coax a coyote onto a vast field of picked corn, a small soybean field tucked between two hills, a woodland opening, or a cattle pasture next to woods provide a higher vote of confidence to a paranoid coyote.
The setting should include a high vantage point for you. This may be a rise in a field, sitting in the loft of an old barn, or even stationing a treestand pre-hunt. Although you might be tempted to sit with the wind in your face, coyotes are more likely to circle downwind. A crosswind or straight downwind view gives you the advantage on circling coyotes. Using scent, like coyote urine, or a decoy, has stopping power to halt a coyote before it gets completely downwind. Pay close attention to HuntZone in HuntStand to visualize how your scents will disperse. Use it when placing scents or decoys in the opening options outlined earlier. Finally, keep your eye on the lowest terrain and densest cover. It’s a solid bet a coyote will use a depression or tall grass to get as close as possible before showing itself.
I once set up under a small clump of trees on a 2-acre hayfield in Kansas. A coyote arrived from a strip of cover, but to analyze the small hayfield it needed to exit the cover. With its crosswind approach I had ample time to steady up for a chip shot.
Coyote Hunting Setups: Desert Southwest
Desert coyotes hunt remote country, but have no aversion to investigating human domiciles for a free lunch. What they do have is a vast playground of canyons, coulees, ditches, and dry creek beds to travel. A common name for these dry gulches is “arroyos.” Call them what you want, but they will cause you distress when calling coyotes in the deserts of the Southwest.
The big desert views provide you with both a pro and con when calling desert country. The pro is that you can see a long way to spot coyotes approaching your calls. The con is that so can the coyotes, and they often stall out early, hundreds of yards away, for a security scan. Having downwind command of the view is one option, but again, seasoned coyotes could drop into an arroyo and circle downwind farther undetected.
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Locate a calling site that forces coyotes to circle into an opening of your choosing. Separate yourself from trails bustling with human activity by using the Natural Atlas overlay as a guide. Now scout for elevation and an obstruction, cover or steepness, to force coyotes your way. Put that HuntZone to work along with your aerial imagery. A steep canyon wall, thick mesquite, shrub live oak, saltbrush, and combinations of cactus could deter a coyote from slipping into a veiled approach and, instead, force it into an opening of your liking. A well-placed decoy, scents, or an electronic caller can direct with the help of the natural barrier.
A tangle of prickly pear and cholla once helped me keep a coyote from swinging downwind on a New Mexico set. The coyote, one of the oldest I have yet to shoot (confirmed by worn teeth), swung away from the cactus patch to gain a wind advantage. It was a BINGO win for me.
Coyote Hunting Setups: Intermountain West
When you think of coyotes and coyote hunting you think of the West. They inhabit all real estate from front-range subdivisions to remote mountain valleys and every sagebrush basin in between. Hunting the Southwest is a breeze because the majority of those states are publicly owned, but in the intermountain West it becomes a checkerboard except on large expanses of National Forest. Use the Public Lands map overlay along with the Property Info feature in HuntStand to locate public access. Especially be aware of public lands that border private lands under strict wildlife management. Those are coyote condos for sure.
In the West, elevation typically comes easy, but as I have learned over and over again, while hunting in the foothills, coyotes utilize timber cover to approach undetected and leave like a thief in the night if they sense a trap. While scouting for new country, the Terra Pulse Tree Cover overlay gives you the tool to find areas with and without timber. Satellite imagery, 3D map flyovers, and Monthly Satellite updates all combine to put you in a great calling location with further scouting.
Coyotes prefer to hang near livestock and wintering wildlife, so I look for public lands bordering livestock feeding operations or wildlife habitat management areas. Next, I look for high terrain along the border fence and any openings forcing coyotes to vacate canopy cover for a thorough investigation. Coyotes will be departing livestock areas at sunrise as feeding chores begin, so set up between the animals and good refuge cover with a favorable wind. Lone howls with an occasional challenge howl provide the incentive for any area coyotes to investigate.
Coyote Hunting Setups: Waterways
Rivers, creeks, and streams crisscross the country with plenty of coyote hunting potential. Riparian zones offer dense habitat to hold prey, ranging from rodents to big game. These waterways also offer a path of least resistance, and in northern latitudes freezing temperatures transform these into HOV lanes for coyotes. I prefer to e-scout new areas with the Natural Atlas map overlay due to its distinguishing blue color feature to signify water. This makes riparian areas stand out easily for more thorough investigation. After discovering potential hunting areas, move on to the Property Info, Hunting Lands and Public Lands overlays. These reveal public hunting areas and the names of potential landowners to contact if a riparian zone looks promising.
If a waterway is frozen, I immediately search for an opening with an adjacent high point. The vantage point should have a favorable wind for both the opening and a portion of the icy path on the water. Waterways, especially river valleys, funnel wind, so be conscious of that fact so your scent doesn’t channel exactly to where a coyote is likely to appear.
High locations might be too far from the water corridor to garner looks along the ribbon of water and any fields, or openings along the edge. Think whitetail. Hang a treestand beforehand using predominate wind histor,y or bring along a quick setup such as a tree saddle or climber stand. This elevation advantage allows you to see the playing field, plus shoot down into brush for coyotes that try to approach by zigzagging through thickets. A treestand also gives you a wind advantage by potentially carrying your scent over the top of a close coyote.
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Habitat zones across the country provide distinct challenges for coyote hunting setup success. You can put more advantages in your corner by utilizing a proven hunting app like HuntStand to dig through the habitat elements and narrow down a winning position.
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