If you ask me, there is nothing as exhilarating as the battle between man and coyote. Our forefathers would spend days tracking these beasts, finding footprints, droppings, carcasses with telltale signs of coyote attack. They had to rely on their wits, and on knowledge passed down to them by their fathers.
Nowadays, we don’t have to track or chase coyotes. They come to us. Some say that using coyote calls is cheating, that it cheapens the sport. On the other hand, I think that it takes a great amount of skill to use a coyote call properly. Even with the modern electronic calls, you can still get it wrong, and leave empty-handed.
That’s why I thought a detailed guide to coyote hunting, with an emphasis on coyote calls would be useful for beginners and pros alike. Now I don’t claim that I can help you catch your coyote every time. When dealing with an animal such as a coyote, nothing is ever certain. The best I can offer is some tried and tested tips and tricks that I’ve used on my property.
Having said that, let me tell you what we’re going to go over. First, we’ll discuss using electronic or regular coyote calls. Then we’ll see what the best sounds for coyote calling are. We’ll also talk about safety, as well as some practical hunting tips. By the time we’re done, you’ll feel like a pro even if you’ve never held a gun in your life. Let’s get started.
Coyote Calls: Electronic vs Traditional
There are traditionalists in the coyote hunting community who swear by using old-school coyote calls. Apparently, they can control the sound it makes more easily. They can use their own skills and experience to modulate the sound in a way that will attract their prey.
While there are some benefits to using traditional coyote calls, I think electronic calls are still superior. Don’t take my word for it though, let’s see some evidence! If we want to compare the two, the best way to do it is to look at the pros and cons for both. That way, you can make the decision yourself, since every hunter has a unique personality and style.
What I call traditional calls are more commonly referred to as mouth or manual calls. As the name implies, these calls have you use your mouth to make the sounds you want. There are special reeds and chambers inside the call which vibrate. These vibrations make different noises, depending on what you want to do.
There are a lot of different calls available. Their names can get pretty specific too. When you go to a Dick’s store or look online, you can see how many of these there are. That’s kind of the key issue here as well. How do you choose which call to use?
Coyotes like going after easy prey. We use that fact against them, to draw them in. That’s why there are coyote calls that approximate the sound of hurt rabbits, mice, birds, and other small animals. Coyotes have heard these noises before. They are drawn to them because they know the difference between a normal animal sound and the sound a distressed animal makes. Rabbits, for example, very rarely make any noise at all when they are not hurt.
The main reason why you would want to use a manual call is control. As I’ve already said, with manual calls, you are playing the role of the prey animal. You can make as many or as few noises as you think is best. Also, you can stop or start up again in the blink of an eye. Lastly, you can even change the sound slightly by blowing into the call in a different way.
These methods have proven effective when hunting for coyotes. I used these manual calls for years, and they got the job done pretty well. It takes time and practice to learn how to make exactly the sounds the coyote wants to hear. Once you’ve mastered it, you almost feel like a snake charmer. You can get the coyote to go where you want him to go and do what you want him to do.
The other great feature of manual calls is the volume. Whenever I take someone hunting, people are always surprised at how damn loud these calls can be. And that feeds into the previous point about control as well. By blowing harder, you can make the noise louder, and vice versa. Ultimately, it depends on your skill (and your lung capacity) how far the coyotes will hear the call.
But as you may have guessed, I am a convert to electronic calls, even after years of using the traditional, manual variety. That’s because there are some fundamental flaws with these calls. Firstly, there’s the issue of safety, and secondly, the issue of variety.
In terms of safety, things are very simple. When you blow into a coyote call, you are calling the coyote to you. Yes, you have a gun, and yes, you have the element of surprise, but that’s not always enough. The stakes for coyotes and humans are not the same. If you shoot a coyote, and it escapes and lives, he’d call that a win. If a coyote mauls you and you live, that’s a disaster. We are used to being untouchable.
That’s why we take every precaution when going out there. For me, hunting is not about the danger, it’s about being smart. How can I hunt this wild animal in a way that is perfectly safe for me, but deadly for him? Isn’t that what being human is all about, outsmarting our competitors?
Sorry if I got a bit too philosophical there, but I have a point to make. You can set up electronic calls wherever you think is best, and set yourself up far away from there. That way, you can monitor the situation from a safe distance, and react in a split-second.
The second issue with manual calls is the variety issue. If you want to make various different calls, you will have to take a whole bunch of calls with you. These days, they make calls that can make two different sounds, but that doesn’t solve the problem.
Fumbling around for the right call can make you miss an opportunity, or even chase the coyote away. On top of that, different calls require different technique. You have to get used to each particular call, which can be a nightmare.
Now that we’ve discussed traditional calls, let’s take a look at the electronic ones in more detail.
Like I said before, I am a recent convert to electronic calls. I was reluctant at first, but I soon saw the benefits, and I started to enjoy it. Having said that, there are lots of models on the market, and finding the best one to fit your preferences can be a minefield. I can’t really do much to help you there, but I can tell you some of my own experiences with various calls.
First of all, let’s see what these actually are. Electronic calls are basically glorified speakers. The manufacturer attaches the speaker to some electronics loaded with all the sounds the device can make. Manufacturers usually don’t like you tampering with their product, so very few calls actually let you put in your own sounds. Believe me, I’ve tried. Nevertheless, the calls these devices come with are varied and lifelike (for the most part).
Most calls have at least 10 different sounds. These can vary widely, and they aren’t just tailored to coyotes either. As with any product, you really get what you pay for. Some calls I’ve tested had horrible sounds that sounded nothing like their natural counterparts. While they sample most of the sounds from nature, there are also calls that produce the sounds themselves. My advice is to avoid these, since these never really sound like the real thing.
The second most important thing about coyote calls, in my opinion, is the remote control. This allows you to set your call up anywhere you like, and retreat to a safe distance. It also lets you control the device on the go. You can react to situations, and get the coyote to do what you want him to do.
You can change the sounds, increase or decrease the volume, stop and start, and so on. Some devices even have an automatic intermittent mode, where the device makes sounds almost at random. That makes it more lifelike for the coyote.
Many devices also come with an automatic decoy. It flaps around to simulate any small animal you choose. You can also control this feature by remote, which really draws the animals in.
Depending on the price range, these calls come in a more or less robust casing. The more expensive ones practically look like mini tanks, and they behave similarly as well. That’s a key feature since coyotes will often attack the calls. On top of that, I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve dropped or hit my electronic calls while out on the prowl.
As I’ve already said, the main benefit of these calls is the safety. The best distance from which to strike a coyote is from about 100 yards away. Make sure you are downwind from the coyote, since they can and will smell you from a mile away. You can use the remote to select the sounds your coyote wants to hear, so you can get him where you want him.
Naturally, there is no one strategy that will work for every coyote. That requires a lot of experience in the field. You also have to tailor your strategy to that particular coyote you’re hunting. Experiment a bit, see what works best for your area and the coyotes that live in it.
Though I am quite impressed with electronic calls, I still think there are a few problems with them. These fall into two categories, tactical and quality-related.
When I say ‘tactical’ problems, I simply mean that sometimes you can’t make the shot. Since you’re far away, there are inherently some problems you have to grapple with. Firstly, you might miss and scare the coyote away. That happens to everyone, regardless of method, but it’s slightly more common with electronic calls.
Secondly, your line of sight may get obscured, which makes you miss an opportunity to strike. It can also happen that you attract an unwanted animal as well. It happens to me all the time, and my policy is not to shoot unless it’s a coyote. I usually just switch to a really loud and scary sound over the remote, and that scares the animal away.
If these cons seem a bit weak to you, it’s because they are. I think an electronic call is your best bet if you want to hunt coyotes. All of the cons I’ve laid out are minor compared to the benefits these calls offer.
Electronic Coyote Calling Tips
As I said in the intro, we’ll also take a look at some practical tips and tricks about how to hunt using coyote calls. We’ve already covered some of the points in this section previously, but here I’ll expand on them. In any case, many of those points bear repeating, especially the ones about safety.
Using Calls to Your Advantage
If I have convinced you to go out and get yourself an electronic call, you may be wondering which sounds to use. That’s a difficult and fascinating question, so we’ll cover that one first. I’ve already told you that distressed calls work best for coyotes, but I didn’t tell you the whole story. There are actually two types of distressed calls: prey calls and coyote calls.
Coyotes are always looking for a quick and easy meal. That’s why they will jump at the opportunity to finish off a wounded small animal. When we’re hunting with coyote calls, we take advantage of this behavior. If you want to add a whiff of realism to your call, you may consider supplying an actual carcass of the animal you are using to draw the coyote in. That way, the sound aspect is reinforced with smell, which is very important for a coyote.
However, it’s not just prey that will get a coyote’s attention. Distressed coyote calls will also draw in a coyote. That’s especially true if the sound you’re using is of a young coyote. Naturally, this is more likely to attract a female coyote.
I’m not telling you this because we care about the animal’s sex when we shoot it. There is a useful point to note here. If you see that a distressed prey call is not working, you should consider switching to a distressed coyote call. Maybe your coyote is a female who just ate, so a distress call from a coyote cub is a better choice to get her attention.
There is another way to use coyote sounds to attract coyotes. Namely, if you know the area where you are hunting really well, you should take stock of the territories of certain packs. You need to play a coyote call at just the right location. That will draw in some coyotes who want to get rid of the intruder, giving you a chance to strike.
Alternatively, if you play some coyote howls, you can also attract a coyote. That’s because coyotes are pack animals, and they will naturally come over to see what their pack-mate is howling about. Either way, electronic calls are the perfect way to employ these tactics.
Safety is the number 1 priority when hunting. There are some important safety tips I have to leave you with, if I want to have a clear conscience.
Firstly, never go alone. Always have a hunting partner or a hunting party. If you get hurt, your partner is there to help you, and potentially save your life. If you are both hurt, the chances that you’ll make it out are much better as well.
There are two reasons for concern when going out hunting: guns and wild animals. Don’t even think of going hunting if you haven’t passed a gun safety class. Make sure your entire party has done so too. Otherwise, you may have a Dick Cheney situation on your hands!
As for wild animals, if you’re using remote-controlled calls, you are much safer. That being said, one should always be aware of their surroundings. Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, and always watch your back.
Coyote calls are a great way to up your hunting game. Whether you’re using traditional or electronic calls, the fight against a wild animal is always thrilling. If the main takeaway from this piece is how to use calls to your advantage, I will be pleased. But even more importantly, remember the safety tips, and don’t do anything stupid.
I hope I’ve helped you become a better hunter with this guide!