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How to Kill More Coyotes

Tips and Tricks from Jeff Thomason

There’s a reason that “wily” is a word so often associated with coyotes. Hunting this intelligent song dog presents a unique challenge no matter the location or time of year. So if you’re looking to put a few more pelts on the wall, here are a few simple tips and tricks we learned from Jeff Thomason of Sportsman Channel’s “Predator Pursuit” on a recent hunt in Texas. Be sure to check your local state regulations before putting some of the following tactics to use.

1. Choose Your Optics Wisely

Know what you’re getting into when putting your rig together. Leupold’s VP of Product Development, Tim Lesser, mounted his rifle with a VX-Freedom 2-7x33, expecting more hiking and the closer-range shots that he’d grown familiar with while hunting in the west. If that’s how you’ll be hunting predators like coyotes, it’s an ideal setup because it keeps you from getting lost in the magnification and never seeing the dog. At night in Texas, however, where you might be shooting well past 200 yards, greater magnification is a boon – not only do you get a closer look at the coyote, but it makes it far easier to make sure those eyes you’re seeing in the distance belong to a coyote and not a deer or cow.

2. Pick Your Spots

If you’ve had time to scout your prey, great. If not, choose your terrain accordingly. Daytime hunts are best suited around areas where the brush is thicker – coyotes are more likely to be comfortable holing up to bed there. Get downwind of a bedding area and see what you can do – a smart coyote is going to try to circle downwind of your call, so make sure you’re in a spot where you can see him on the move. When the sun sets, things are completely different – coyotes will be out in the fields hunting. All you can do is pick your spot and hope the dogs aren’t already downwind of you. Try to give yourself a shooting lane somewhere downwind, in case they briefly show themselves before scattering.

3. Experiment with Different Calls

When hunting predators, it is common practice to act like prey – many coyotes have died while investigating a squealing rabbit that’s not actually a rabbit. If that’s not working, though, it may be time to mix things up. A pup in distress is a popular call to lure in adult dogs, but don’t be afraid to pick a fight. Playing the role of aggressive male coyote and then switching to a more submissive, whimpering call is an excellent way to bring dominant ‘yotes to the gun. They’ll get fired up at your first few calls and then move to pounce when they decide you’re a rival that’d be easy to whoop.

4. Let There Be Light

If you’re in a state that lets you chase coyotes and other varmint after the sun goes down, it’d be a good idea to incorporate some artificial light into your setup – bright, white lights, too. Not just red. Jeff admitted himself that in the early-going, he was hesitant to use lights, for fear of spooking his prey. Now he doesn’t just use them, he leaves them on from the get-go – once settling on a spot to hunt, of course. While he noted that the occasional coyote will shy away from the lights, most of them don’t mind them – and it helps level the playing field. A coyote can see just fine in the dark; a human can’t. Introducing light eliminates that issue and can actually make it harder for a coyote to see you. They can still see, for sure, but hunters situated near the light source remain relatively hidden from prying eyes. Jeff has called coyotes into shotgun range of his hunting rig with his spotlights blazing.

5. Don’t Celebrate Too Early

This one might seem strange, but bear with us. It’s not uncommon for coyotes to run in pairs or even small groups. Though you may feel a rush of elation upon dropping a dog that’s come to your call, stifle that victory dance and keep calling. “I don’t even want to think about all the ones we messed up in the early-going, with our high-fiving and hooting and hollering,” Jeff said.

So stay quiet, stay down, and keep calling. A coyote’s partner might be nearby, or even a few hundred yards out, and still come to the call. You might find yourself with a few more doubles and triples.

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