Calling Coyotes - Part II
I'm pretty basic in my choices of calls, and what I do with them. I prefer an open reed call for most of my calling, since I can do virtually any sound I want with one. I carry a couple different ones, usually a thick reed one for howling, and a thin reed one for other sounds. Carrying a coyote call in my shirt pocket has been such a regular part of my daily routine over the years that it's amazing my camo shirt pockets don't have a telltale impression, like a snooze can ring.

I also use a closed reed type call, such as a mid-range jack or cottontail rabbit. With that as a type of 'distress' call, and the howling that I can do with the open reed, I think I have the bases covered. I also use the open reed to do some fawn 'bleats' and antelope 'caws', but I only do that in the summer months. To sum it all up, if I had to choose one, it would be an open reed.

I like to glass around really well before I even start calling. I've learned that the hard way over the years. The method I use is one that I saw on an old mule deer hunting video some years back. The guy doing the video depended on his binoculars as much as, or even more than, his legs. He did what he described as his initial search, which is a quick scan of the area before him. On this initial scan, you are looking for movement, or obvious coyotes that just stand out from the terrain. A morning sun helps with this, as I mentioned earlier.

This quick initial scan only takes maybe 20-30 seconds, but you'd be surprised what you see at times. Often I've spotted a coyote trotting at a long distance that I couldn't see with the naked eye. I've also noticed antelope or deer showing abnormal body language that signifies the possibility of a coyote or other predator in their midst.

If I don't spot anything of interest right off the bat, I'll slow things down a bit for a few minutes, and really dial down on certain objects that don't look quite right, or possibly a piece of cover that looks good. With this closer look you can also take mental notes of places that a coyote might approach from, approximate yardages, and if the wind is going to mess you up.

I take this chance to spot coyotes even though I'm intent on calling them. Words of advice from many years ago ring in my ears from time to time when I'm in the field. A good friend of mine from eastern Montana had spent a lot of time calling, trapping, and snaring coyotes for most of his early years. I went with him a few times, calling coyotes, and I noticed right away that he referred to it as coyote 'hunting'. I studied his way of picking and choosing his calling stands, and noticed that he was a fairly mobile coyote caller at times, and moved more than I had become accustomed to.

His method of glassing before he actually sat down to call often revealed a coyote hunting or moving in the distance, and he would then move into a better position. By observing the coyote(s) he would decide if they were moving to cover for the morning, or on a den, or simply wandering. By getting ahead of the coyote, he would at times basically intercept or ambush them if they happened to continue moving in that direction. I adopted his method of 'hunting' rather than just calling as time went on, and I'm glad I did.

The hunting philosophy, or approach, is further defined when choosing a calling stand. I've often told people that the actual, exact spot that I decide to either sit or lay down at, is just as important as a specific trap set location. I've found it easier to call coyotes into a spot that they would normally hunt, rather than to a place that might not fit the situation. You might think this is over thinking a bit, and that may be right the majority of the time, but I like to increase my odds whenever and wherever possible.

For example, I like to call from the upper 2/3, or just under the crest, of a hill or ridge. I had the great opportunity to call, hunt dens, and work with the late Vernon Dorn for a couple of summers in the mid-1980s.
Vernon was the first person to tell me that, in his opinion, it is usually easier to call coyotes uphill to you, rather than downhill. His observations from vast amounts of coyote calling made him theorize that coyotes will 'hang up' more often if they are already above you as they approach. I've seen it happen perhaps 100 times since those early days, and I can still see Vernon sitting in his easy chair talking about it like it was yesterday.

So, based on that, I try to get in a fairly high, or at least not in the lowest, part of any given location if I'm preparing to howl as part of my sequence. I've also learned the hard way to either crawl or 'duck-walk' that last few yards as I break the crest of a hill or ridge line, as a human silhouette is enough to spook a lot of coyotes, even from a fairly long distance. Again, this is where having the sun at your back can help you at times, but I still take the extra precaution to keep as low as possible when on a skyline of any sort.

Of course, howling, or any calling for that matter, will carry farther from a higher elevation, too. I've seen a small rise or hill 'eat up' a lot of volume when calling with a partner, so much so that at times I actually thought my calling partner had moved from the original spot he had sat down at. There is no doubt that coyotes have way better hearing than we do, but I've hunted them long enough to know that they aren't always where you would think they would be at any given piece of cover or location, so having that extra volume helps.

That brings up another point. I call with my work partner and good friend Dale Greenough a lot throughout the year. Luckily, Dale and I are both 'old school', and we've worked together enough to pretty much know where the other is going to sit before we even reach the spot. Dale, being a better rifle shot than me most days, will usually choose a spot a bit higher than me, and prefers to look in all directions, with his rifle ready in a pair of shooting sticks or the extended legs of his bipod. He usually isn't afraid to take (and make) long shots, so he knows he has to be fairly mobile if a coyote circles the spot we're waiting and calling from. Years of experience has taught him when and how to move to that right spot needed to get that crucial shot when it presents itself. I've seen him do it time and time again.

I'm a bit more of the 'ambush' variety of caller, and I usually settle on a spot slightly lower, and maybe tucked back into a piece of sage, or against a fallen log or other object. Consequently, I seem to be getting more coyotes into shotgun range before I start shooting than Dale does.

We both can tell by each other's movements and actions if one of us spots a coyote coming in, but we still use slow hand signals at times, too. Coyotes come in multiples, as you well know, and there is the occasional miss too, so we are both always ready to back the other one up, if the opportunity arises. Both of us have done it long enough to know that you don't just jump up and run to a shot coyote, but rather slowly approach, after a short wait to see if another one is coming in.

Just like at the beginning of a stand, at the end I like to glass the surrounding area again before I finally decide to move from that location. My theory is simple: If I took the time to drive and walk to that spot, and I know at least one coyote is there, I might as well milk it for all it's worth. And, I can't tell you how many coyotes I've taken that came in 10 minutes later than the first one. Sometimes just the tenacity to sit and wait it out pays off, and other times it's because I've spotted another coyote in the distance, and a little calling can get it to finally come in.

I realize some of the things I've talked about in this article are fairly commonly known among experienced callers, but I feel that they are all valid points and methods to consider when calling coyotes. I hope that a few of my experiences can be of help to you.