Trying new things when hunting coyotes
We had been driving for what seemed like an eternity down two-track after two-track, the sage flats seemed to go on forever. We knew there were coyotes out there and plenty of them. None of us wanted to be driving when we could be hunting, but a vantage point never seemed to present itself. Finally, I spotted something and we headed for it. It was a water tower with a security rail around the top. Now, I won’t admit to telling anyone to do this, nor am I encouraging anyone to do anything dangerous by any means, but we had permission to hunt anywhere on this ranch and by dang that meant anywhere.
Now when I presented my idea to my two friends (both wish to remain nameless, so I’ll call them “D” and “K”), I dare say that neither one of them was all too excited about the idea. One was ok with it, the other not so much. Well, we climbed up the ladder and situated ourselves around the top of the tower and we could see forever! Now if only our Foxpro FX3 would cut through the wind that was blowing quite hard from right to left (south to north). We turned on the good ole’ tune of “Help, I’m a little rabbit and I am in some serious pain…help, help” as loud as the volume would let us. We settled in for what two of us thought was a waste of time and one of us hoped would allow us to at least see something that resembled a coyote, fox or badger.
About five minutes into the stand, D squeaked his squeaker and the three of us turned our heads to see four coyotes come screaming over the nearest hill about a half-mile away. I have never seen coyotes cover ground so fast. They were in what looked to be a life and death race to that poor little rabbit. Our truck was tucked right up against the tower so it didn’t stand out, but the coyotes were coming straight downwind.
I can’t begin to explain how proud I was of myself. Here I had these two doubters and look what I had come up with, four coyotes in the flats in late November. The coyotes were nearing 400 yards and the one in the front kept coming, the last three ran smack dab into our scent trail but couldn’t figure out exactly where we were. The first one was now at 100 yards. I told D to hold on and let the others come a little closer. Just as I was getting my crosshairs on the second dog, he made a hard left and stopped with the third behind a big sagebrush as he hit our wind. Then the closest one winded us and turned to go. “On the count of three, …one….two….three – BAM… BAM……”.
Well, let’s say that I went from being very proud of myself to wanting to jump off of that stupid tower! I watched all four coyotes leave the area faster than they had come in and I chastised myself over and over and apologized to D just as much. We went from having one “sure bet” coyote down and me being “right,” to us having zero coyotes on that stand and me being very humble. To this day I still kick myself for being greedy.
Now, what did I learn from this hunt? Well, let me tell you and see if you agree. I won’t argue whether climbing the tower was dumb, it probably was, but I do dumb things all the time, just ask my wife. So, we’ll leave the actual climbing idea out of it. That said, a hunter does need to gain whatever vantage point that they can. If the terrain is dead flat with no hills, then what do you do? Where do you hide? I hide in plain sight. Coyotes are not tall animals, so they are going to be low in the brush too. You might not see them very well, but they won’t see you either. If the wind is right, and you call the flats from your knees or a stool, you’ll have coyotes in your lap or staring you in the face just above sage level. The shots will be fast, but I promise you will do more shooting and calling than driving around in the truck “looking” for that perfect spot.
What are some other things we can learn from this hunt? When hiding your vehicle, use whatever you can to break it up. We have used the military surplus netting to hide our trucks when there is no natural blind. If there is farm equipment (old or new) then park by it, a fence, hay bales whatever, use it and be happy, it beats wasting time looking.
I also learned a valuable old lesson; “A bird in the hand beats two in the bush.” If I hadn’t gotten greedy, we would have came away with a much more memorable stand. Instead of me saying, “I told you we could call in coyotes from that tower.” We would have been saying, “Remember when we climbed that tower and called in those four coyotes and D shot that one? That was awesome. Cory you are the greatest!” …Or something along those lines. The bottom line is that no matter how many coyotes are coming into a call, take the shots you can make. Sure, we all want the double and triples, but if a single is all we are going to get, get the single and be happy. I sure would have been.
One more lesson that D, K and I took away from this stand was that we need to try new things. All too often we get locked into our comfort zones. We have a method that works most of the time, but what about when it is not working? What if we had kept driving around for another hour looking for a “great” spot? We would have missed out on the tower experience, no matter how it turned out. Both D and K admitted that they would be more open to different approaches from now on. If there are coyotes in an area, you can call them – you just need to figure out the best way to do it.
Another thing I learned from this trip was something that I relearn every trip I take. Get the best equipment you can afford. Obviously spending this month’s mortgage on gear is out of the question but, if you hunt with friends you can share costs and things can be had for less than you might think. I have been hunting predators for over ten years now and, between D, K and I, there is about thirty years of experience and stuff. I don’t want to tell you or my wife exactly how much I have spent over that time, but it has been quite a bit. I use Foxpro because it is a unit that works and works very well. In the event that something does go wrong, the company stands behind its product tooth and nail. There are e-callers that run the whole spectrum when it comes to price. If an e-caller is what you want, get one that fits your needs. Use a gun you can rely on and trust. There is nothing I hate worse than hunting with a gun I don’t trust. I shoot a Tikka tactical in .223 and a Bushmaster Predator because these are guns I know will work. Get the best optics you can afford as well. If you can’t see the predators, you can’t shoot the predators – plain and simple. I won’t go into depth on all of our gear at this time. In a future article I’ll include a list of items that we like to take on our hunts to ensure that we have the best hunt possible.
The last thing we learned from the tower stand is that you never know what will happen. After loading up in the truck and heading out up the road, we came over the rise and there, in the middle of the road, was one of those four coyotes staring at us. (At least we think it was one of them, it never told us for sure.) Well, D got out and put the bipods down on his Ruger .204 and WHAM, Mr. Coyote dropped dead. We didn’t even have to climb any towers!
Our tower hunt ended up just fine in the end. D, K and I got eighteen coyotes over a two-day period. Not our best, but good nonetheless. If you want to know more about us and what we do look us up at www.codahunts.com. I have owned and operated CODA Depredation Services now for about six years. In that time, we have grown quite a bit and had a lot of success.
Finally, hunt with guys or gals you have fun with. Predator hunting can include an awful lot of windshield time – it is not fun to ride with someone that does not make that time enjoyable. K and D are some of the best guys I have hunted with and make what we do a lot of fun. Thanks for putting up with me!
Hand calls—Predator Sniper calls, Circe, Lohman, Song Dog “Tweaked Squirrel,” KJ12
Rifles — Tikka Tactical .223, Bushmaster, Predator and Varminter .223, Ruger
.204, Thompson Encore .204 (single shot or not – K has killed a
lot of coyotes with it)
Optics — Bushnell 3200 elite, Bushnell legend binoculars, Bushnell 1500elite
Camo — Kings Desert Shadow, Kings Snow Shadow
Ammo — Federal Premium
Boots — Danner, Irish setter, Vasque
Tent — Kodiak Tents
Electronic caller — Foxpro FX5 and FX3
Truck box — flares, fire starting stuff, emergency blankets, flat tire repair stuff,
Bottle jacks, tools, etc.
Shooting Sticks — Predator Sniper Styx, Harris Bipods
Cooler — food and water/drinks
Sleeping bags — sleeping pads