I do not mostly like coyotes; however, I do not see any reason why people should not hunt them. My interest in coyote hunting begun in one fateful day when I was out hunting my usual big game, deer. I was up in my tree stand, and I saw a coyote in a shooting distance. So, I decided to take the shot. The shot was a life changer for me; I never thought I had it in me to bring down a predator.
I become proud of myself when I learnt that coyote hunting does not only offer hunters a chance to collect a valuable trophy, but also contribute to predator control in areas where coyotes kill game and livestock. In addition, I have always wanted to experience nature in the predator world, and there is no better way of achieving such a goal than coyote hunting at night.
Preparing for Hunting Trip
Hunting License: Is It a Requirement?
Coyote hunting regulations vary from, one State to another. A proprietor doesn’t require a license to hunt down coyotes by shooting, trapping or snaring on his or her own land. However, property-owners or people with a printed permit from a proprietor may hunt coyotes on private land by shooting, trapping or snaring without a license from the DNR.
There are a number of States in which coyote hunting is limited by short seasons along with other restrictions, such as New Jersey and New York. According to the DNR, the inhabitants need to have in their possession a small game hunting license. On the other hand, a non-inhabitant is expected to have in his or her possession a furbearer license.
Where to Hunt Coyotes?
Coyotes are nighttime animals who hunt keenly during the night. They are known to hunt during the day when there is less confrontation between humans and coyotes. They can be found statewide at any given time of the year. There are instances when coyotes may migrate with their prey from higher grounds to lower grounds. In history, coyotes have been linked with open territory.
Among the various predators found on earth, the most adaptable canines are coyotes. They may be located in a number of habitats, including: Temperate rainforests, open ponderosa pine forests, alpine meadows, subalpine forests, oak savannahs, deserts, prairies, woodlands, and sagebrush-steppe. Recent studies suggest that coyotes have extended their habitats to large urban parks and suburban neighborhoods.
Coyotes have a disreputable standing for killing livestock, especially sheep. However, studies suggest that about 14% of coyotes prey is made up of livestock. Over the years, they have taken shelter in abandoned buildings and drainpipes. Currently, research suggests that coyotes range spread out from Central America all the way to the Artic. They are found in the U.S. (except Hawaii), Mexico and Canada.
Best Times to Hunt Coyotes at Night: Why Hunt at Night?
Before you can even talk about a specific time to hunt coyotes, you first need to choose a season that suits you best. During fall coyotes are usually apprehensive to be called. It is during this time that you will find young pups roaming around. Therefore, you stand a chance of hunting young pups who respond to prey distress sounds.
It is common to cite coyotes several hours after daylight and before dark during the colder months of the year. Coyotes are usually furred up during winter; therefore, they tend to do most of their hunting in daylight. The weather forces them to be active during daylight. This is the right time for those who are fond of day hunting.
Coyotes are known to be highly territorial in the spring because this is the time they work on dens. Summer is normally the favorite time for most night hunters. In summer, coyotes are more likely to be night hunters. This is so since hot daytime is not the ideal time to be moving around in a warm fur coat.
Irrespective of the season, the entire night is not prime calling in coyotes. Most coyote hunters suggest that the four hours after sundown and two hours before sunrise are the most productive night hunting times. There usually seems to be quietness in the middle of the night when coyotes take a short nap. This is not a proven fact, though.
Apart from coyotes being active at night, night hunt is convenient because the animals are less cautious and feel more secure from human confrontations. On most occasions, the wind is weaker at night. Therefore, the chances of a coyote picking up your scent are less. Nevertheless, you should be aware of the wind direction.
Prepare the Necessary Gear for Coyote Hunting at Night
Gearing up for coyote hunting may seem difficult, but it is rather simple. Coyote hunting is one of the easiest as well as cost effective hunting activities. I have been an active hunter of these remarkable predators. Believe you me, I didn’t have specialized clothing or sophisticated gear when I successfully shot and killed my first coyote.
I do remember correctly that I used my traditional deer rifle to make my first kill. However, I have improved my skill set and gear over the years. You first have to decide if this is what you want to do. Well, the sky is the limit once you make up your mind. As a beginner, there are specific items that you must have.
Unlike game decoys that work at any time of the year, coyote decoys may only work remarkably during specific seasons. The best time to use a coyote decoy is during mating and Denning season. You should use a decoy when coyotes become territorial and start responding to howling. However, you have to be careful how and where you use them.
You should check the area to see if there are other hunters in the vicinity. Make certain that you position yourself in a strategic position with respect to your decoy. You must be able to see all angles of approach. Maintain a safe zone by positioning a rock pile at your back in the event that another hunter gaffes your decoy for the real thing and goes into your calling.
2. Coyote Calls
There are two types of coyote calls, including the simpler models (operated by mouth) and the ultra-modern electronic models. There are major merits and demerits for each type. The mouth calls are cheaper, lighter and highly versatile. You can use them to make different kinds of sounds, which mostly emulate prey sounds. On the other hand, electronic calls are very useful.
3. Coyote Rifles and Shotguns
One of the most difficult questions that you can ask yourself as a coyote hunter is, “What is the best rifle or shotgun for hunting coyotes?” We can end up with an unending list of weapons if we are to explore each and every possibility, including the latest and most sophisticated options. You can have either a long-range or short-range masterpiece.
As far as a long-range rifle is concerned, a center-fire rifle installed with a scope is a good choice (. 243, .204, or.223). In most cases, a bolt-action model is the most accurate option. There are newer rifles entering the market every now and then with the ability to initiate quick follow-up shots.
You may have to settle for a semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun if your shooting distance is around forty or fifty yards. Make sure you use reassuring loads. Different hunters have different preferences; some may even consider heavier firepower, such as Remington 375 magnum, which is certainly overkill for a coyote.
4. Better Optics, Camo & Concealment
You can do coyote hunting at night without optics, but you will do much better with them as I did. It is remarkable how many coyotes you can see with a pair of night vision binoculars. You have to buy the best model you can find in the market. There is a big difference between good optics and working ones.
Coyotes are the best hunters. They have a keen sense of smell, outstanding vision, and they are remarkably steady. Talking from experience, you can successfully circumvent detection by coyotes if you are completely camouflaged. You can use an all-purpose camouflage, such as camo skin, such as mossy oak, Realtree, and trebark.
How to Start Scouting Coyotes?
Scouting coyotes are the same as hunting them. Therefore, you should gear up in advance; you might come across fresh tracks. Stealth is necessary, whether you have a trail of the animal or not, because coyotes are visually oriented. Always use cover and pay attention to the wind. You can use mouth calls or electronic calls.
Calling coyotes is a technique that you must learn if you wish for success during coyote hunting at night. Though, it takes practice to be able to produce the correct sounds. Personally, I favor open-reed mouth calls as to the closed ones. Basically, open-reed calls are very resourceful and they are not easily dampened by your snuffle.
Electronic calls are more sophisticated. They play prerecorded sounds from real animals, but you can produce genuine noises right out of the device. They come with different features and specs. Actually, the individual product specifications are the ones that differentiate the effectiveness of each and every electronic predator call.
The more sophisticated models have a library of sounds and separate speakers operated by a remote. The benefit of remote operated electronic call is the ability of positioning it at a different location from your spot. This is useful and reliable when a coyote is approaching unhurriedly while skimming for possible dangers.
The perfect setup should always be strategic. Search for routes that coyotes may follow before you position decoys and electronic calls. Avoid locations with obstacles between you and where the coyotes may possibly emerge from. Concealment is a virtue, which simply means you require exceptional camouflage.
Better Shot Placement
After all the preparations (scouting, setting up decoys, calling and concealment) the next big thing is placing a perfect shot when the coyote finally shows up. You may possibly make a kill shot when you shoot behind the shoulder. Such a shot may probably hit the liver and the animal may take long to expire.
The most preferred and quick kill shot is through the heart and lungs. You can achieve this shot by aiming for the right shoulder. To make a perfect shot, shadow the animal’s front leg to the center mass. The rifle/shotgun and caliber/gauge play a big role. Some recommended calibers are .243, .223 and .204 with lightweight rounds (30 to 60 grains).
Coyote Night Hunt Experiences
In my experience, proper scouting, decoy and electronic call setup, effective mouth calling, and perfect camouflage play a big role in coyote hunting at night. There are instances that I have been able to kill a coyote by simply scouting for turkeys and rabbits. Do not be dispirited if you are not successful the first time, the experience will eventually pay off. A lesson I learnt the hard way.
Safety when hunting coyotes at night is a factor that depends entirely on how you go about your hunting business. Make sure you are aware of other hunters in the area in order not to be mistaken for a target. Visibility is an issue during a night hunt, and not every hunter may have a sophisticated pair of binoculars. So, beware of other hunters.
The Wrap Up
Coyotes are a unique species – they are wary, secretive and shy. They have a keen sense of hearing and smell. Therefore, you should not count on easy kills. You have to be stealthier than them to be successful. No amount of calling will be enough if your area of interest has no coyotes.
You have to scout your hunting area to confirm the presence of coyotes. Check with local farmers and ranchers, they have a pretty good idea of where coyotes hideout. You must have the right gear and skills. Every setup or calling has to be near perfect. At the end of it all, you have to make the perfect shot.