While the coyote is more prevalent in the western United States, their eastern expansion has given the Downwind Outdoors team something to look forward to every year come the October 1st opener here in New York. Though there are six months out of the year we aren’t allowed by law to hunt fur, rest assured from October to March, DWO has boots on the ground, calling and trying to lure in one of the most cunning and sly animals in all of North America, the coyote. We all began hunting at a young age mostly due to family tradition that eventually grew into hobby and evolved into what we consider a passion driven pastime. Thanks to predator hunters like Randy Anderson and Les Johnson, coyote hunting became a mainstream hunting sport giving DWO the urge to try something new instead of the traditional deer hunting videos. However, watching and trying to learn from Western hunting videos and then applying that to our home front in the east left us frustrated and almost dead ended. The terrain, habitats and characteristics of the eastern species differs greatly from the western. To find wide open fields/plains with small tracts of woods is almost impossible here in upstate New York and the east in general. The east is mostly comprised of with smaller fields surrounded by thick brush lots and heavily wooded areas offering the coyote a more stealthy approach to prey. Some tactics are the same in both the east and west, but knowing you can’t fool a coyotes nose is the number one rule to a successful hunt.
In this article, we want to try and give a brief overview of how we go about picking, scouting, and hunting our properties for these elusive animals.
We have all driven by a property and said, “Ooooo that looks good” but is it? But what really makes a property conducive to coyotes and or a successful hunt? With all the new mapping technologies such as Google Maps, Google Earth, and Bing Maps and for some of those advanced computer users GIS, obtaining property information has never been easier. Scrolling around aerial imagery on your desktop of your area and looking for landscape that might hold coyotes is simple with the availability of these tools which offer imagery, topography and sometimes even parcel boundaries. The image below is a prime example of what features we love in a property. The following “at home” evaluation of the map is performed. Does the property have any of that thick, nasty, tear-your-jacket-off kinda brush that coyotes love to peruse? If yes, find an area in which you can lure a coyote into for a clean shot, preferably a cut field or open hard woods. Once you have determined these two things you are set to begin scouting.
Unlike deer scouting techniques, coyote scouting requires a slightly different approach. Deer scouting includes walking the woods looking for funnels, trails, and food sources, while our coyote scouting techniques are concentrated on finding suitable locations to setup to compliment our at home assessment. It is always good to find scat or tracks, but coyotes are everywhere, some even making it into Central Park in New York City, so we don’t usually worry about whether there are coyotes currently on the property. Bring some clippers and hand saw and make sure to get two or three spots stand ready. Locations with good vantage points, areas where you aren’t silhouetted, good background cover and where entry to the stand is easy and non-evasive to your hunt will give a hunter more of an advantage.
Now for the most *IMPORTANT* (notice the emphasis) aspect of a coyote hunt, the wind direction. The only thing, in our opinion, that we truly care about in coyote hunting is the wind (hence the name “DownWind Outdoors”). Having good coyote calls is an advantage, but we have produced quality hunts even when we forgot our calls in the truck. Having a reliable gun is a huge advantage as well. The biggest disadvantage is having the wind carry your scent to your prey, which will almost guarantee you finish your hunt fur free.
Completing this combination or checklist (aerial imagery, cover, stand location and wind direction) has yielded much success for our team and going through the progression is a prerequisite before every hunt. Now back in front of the computer we can figure out what the wind direction needs to be in order to force a coyote into a vulnerable location, aka in our gun sights and our cameras. Knowing that coyotes will circle downwind 99% of the time, we play the odds and set up either with a crosswind or a wind blowing into our face. It is always nice to favor the crosswind because we believe it gives the coyote a little peace of mind that he does have a bit of a wind advantage to get down wind. The philosophy we live by is that if you don’t have a good wind then don’t hunt it. Unfortunately, we understand that some hunters are limited to their property options so some wind directions may not work. Hunt the ones that do because we promise that your chances of bagging a yote in a bad wind are slim to none. Even worse, you might risk the chance of educating them to the sound of your call. We believe that you are better off taking the day off from the woods and stay inside watching DWO videos and drinking a Coors. Yes, Coors Light is the official beer of DownWind Outdoors…hear that Coors? When picking your stand location just remember that if a coyote has any little bit of cover to use to get down wind, you can bet the bank he will try and use it. The reason we set up as we do shown in the below map is so when one of the coyotes decides he is hungry the only way for him to circle down wind is to emerge from the thick cover (safety) into an open field to present an ethical shot and great footage. Remember, coyotes are predators, which is a whole lot different than hunting deer or turkeys in the sense that when they are coming to the call, they are coming to kill their prey so they can eat and survive.
Learning to call is an art, and if you watch our videos it should give you a general idea of what we like and sometimes even what the coyotes like. We usually call a stand for no longer than half an hour with sporadic calling….30 seconds calling….45 seconds rest….1 minute calling….2 minutes rest…etc. just change up your intervals. There is really no magic formula here but one thing we do like to do is start off the stand with a quiet squeaker calling for no longer than 30 seconds. We can’t tell you how many times we have had dogs appear in less than a minute from calling sequence, so be ready!
Like they say “failure is your best teacher” and coyotes are smart animals some of them are going to outsmart us and we have been on countless blank stands with no action besides a couple crows coming in to check out all the racket (as my poor wife can tell you).It is not going to happen every time cause its hunting not just killing but when, everything comes together, man what a rush!!