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How To Fool More Late-Season Predators


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.

by Al Voth

HuntStand Contributor MORE FROM Al

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

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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.
CONCENTRATE ON LATE-SEASON FOOD SOURCES
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.
WORK TO BECOME THE COMPETITION
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.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MATING SEASON AGGRESSION
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.

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