Anatomy of a Coyote Location - Part II
Pay Attention to Sign
In the last issue we talked about location, and the importance of cover. Sign can help pinpoint them even more.

Sure, you'll see coyote tracks at the time-honored places such as fence corners, dams, crop edges, and the like. And you will certainly catch coyotes at those places. I use these locations myself in a lot of cases, and will continue to do so. But when you take into consideration the amount of time a coyote spends in some of these places, you begin to look at the odds of it ever encountering your sets, at least on a frequent basis.

Stand at some of your favorite locations, and look around in a 360-degree radius. Try to visualize where a coyote would have to come from, and where it would be going to, to encounter your location. Remember, one or two tracks doesn't mean he's hanging around there. Coyotes can track up an area as much as any animal. A few mud tracks will look like a lot of sign, especially when you want it to be. How many times have you set up a spot due to the presence of a track or two, and they never returned before you pulled the traps? Sometimes you see coyote tracks when checking the sets, and think to yourself, They'll end up in the traps I've already set, so why set more? If coyotes are in the general vicinity and not visiting your sets in a reasonable time, you might consider finding locations that are more on the money.

Now, this is not to say that every location has to be lined with coyote tracks for me to set it. Some locations don't have the soil needed for good tracking, and some places you simply don't want to look around much because of the extra sign you leave. If it's a location that stands out to me, and meets my criteria, I might even set it without looking for sign. Experience will give you the final say at times.

Other forms of sign can be a contributing factor to picking locations, too. Droppings, "kicks", and scent post areas are usually found on places that might be considered as territorial or home range borders, but this is not always the case. Sometimes this sign is the result of a large food source, such as a road killed deer or a rancher's carcass dump. I see a lot of sign in the winter around places that got some camping activity during the hunting season.
Taking a few minutes to investigate an unusual amount of obvious sign might result in some set locations that you might have not even considered. Sure, it might be only a one-shot deal, and the spot may dry up after you catch the coyotes leaving the sign, but it's still better than setting for coyotes that were there but are gone now.

Coyotes can be very vocal at times too, especially right at dusk and dawn. A howler or siren comes in handy for locating coyotes in a lot of cases. Many times, I have had coyotes answer the series I "tapped" on my siren from a completely different direction than you would imagine. With a little closer look you might find where they're spending the bulk of their time, and also some locations you wouldn't consider. You can't get any fresher sign than a coyotes' vocal response. That's where they are now.

Droppings can be broken and analyzed a bit, too. They might tip you off to where the coyotes are spending their time. Deer hair might suggest the windswept hillsides that deer seem to like for foraging, and a mix of small bones and hair might mean they're hanging on the creek bottom. If you find some that are all black hair, like I do on occasion, ask the rancher about any dead cows that were left on the range in that vicinity. That might save you a lot of looking for coyotes that left the tracks you set up on 2 weeks ago.

Another thing with sign is to pay special attention if there's a variety of it. By that I mean different sized tracks, droppings, and places where bones, skulls, or deer or antelope hair is scattered about. This would suggest a litter of coyotes feeding on a kill, or at least in the area. Again, this might be a 'one-timer', but the possibility of catching 3 or more coyotes that might be 'mobile' usually warrants setting the area up.

Don't just knee-jerk set up the classic locations. Look to see where the coyotes are coming from and going to, examine any suitable cover in those places, and look closely for, and interpret, any sign there.