Scouting For Coyotes

To kill a coyote, think like a true predatorThe day dawned clear and crisp, and as a coyote hunter left the truck, he felt almost naked with nothing in his hands except his electronic caller and a pair of binoculars around his neck. It wasn’t a predator hunting day in the sense that he thought he might kill one. Instead, today was a scouting day. He was in new country and, just as he does when big game hunting, decided to spend the first day trying to figure it out before he let the coyotes know bad things were about to happen to them.

Coyote Calling
Make sure you sneak into position before glassing and/or calling. You have to find them without them finding you!

With the economy in the tank, can you justify spending fuel money on scouting for coyotes? It’s critical. The good thing is, some very productive scouting can take place while you are doing other things. That is to say, anytime you are in coyote country you think scouting. Here’s an example. During late fall and early winter in southern Arizona he hunts quail several days a week. Often he arrives at the starting point to the bird hunt before daylight and both listen and call for coyotes. If he hears some, you can be sure he’ll be back.

That doesn’t mean he does not carry a gun when scouting. Usually, he does -- just in case he gets lucky. But he does not expect to, since he started his scouting from areas far away from where he thought the most productive areas would be. That lets him tighten the circle slowly and steadily, moving one cautious treestand setup at a time.

Call and Look for Them

Simply stated, there is no better way to find coyotes than by calling to them. Dawn and dusk are the most productive times. Once he hears a dog sing the location is marked for a later coyote hunt.

That said, quality binoculars are critical, too. Coyote Hunters often creep to the top of a ridge overlooking lots of country in the dark and wait and listen, glassing the terrain as soon as they can see for coyotes. They also look for sign like fresh tracks and denning areas, both of which are easiest to see when there is snow on the ground. You should try and stay hidden and glass when you call, especially for dogs that might be a mile away or more. A spotting scope is another tool invaluable for this.

Home on the Range

Coyote Hunting
High quality optics, including a spotting scope, are essential for scouting for coyotes at long distances in the wide open spaces of the West.

Coyotes and cattle are seemingly attached at the hip. When you find a large herd of slow-moving beef in a rural area, you know there’s a pack of coyotes somewhere near its flanks. As a general rule, at anytime time of day or night there will be a coyote within a mile radius of those cattle. There are several reasons for this. Coyotes are very efficient diners. They eat a well-balanced diet anytime they can. A cow pie holds a lot of nutrients, including undigested grains and seeds, quick and easy pickings for a busy scavenger -- not to mention all the other vermin and fowl that peck through the same pie. There’s always something for a coyote to fill his belly. During calving season, coyotes indulge in a smorgasbord of afterbirth, stillborn calves, and even live ones when they can get away with it. Coyotes are opportunists and when the dinner table is already set, they can’t resist.

The Bottom Line

When ferreting out new places to call coyotes it is important to scout as if you are hunting the world’s biggest buck. Enter the area like a stealth bomber, the goal being to locate animals to hunt without them ever knowing you are alive. By hearing and/or seeing them, you can visually assess the terrain and decide the best place to set up and hunt them. If you call coyotes in areas where hunting pressure is reasonably high, you will quickly learn you only have one shot and doing it right. Mess it up, and the coyote is smartened up to the point where it may never come to your calling again.

That’s why the smart coyote hunter spends some time scouting things out before committing to the chase. You should too.

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