Coyote-Takers Calendar: January
A month-by-month look at coyote habits and the best tactics to kill a coyote.
By Martin W. Duke and Renee’ Nolan
A childhood friend of mine and I have often spoken about how much we enjoyed the occasional short, school-night cast of the hunting dogs to which our patriarchs treated us back when we were young. Given that it gets dark so early this time of the year, the tailgate could drop by 6:30 p.m., and we could trail, tree and take a raccoon by 7:30 and be home by 8. Sometimes the dogs would go silent. Either way, those short hunting trips back then remain rich memories now. Most of my short hunting trips now focus on killing coyotes.
It was about 6 p.m. when I called my buddy on a cold and clear, mid-week, January evening. My question, “Wanna go make a short cast?” was met with, “What cha’ got in mind?”
He and I had dozens of previous conversations about me taking him coyote hunting, but both of our professional and family obligations seemed to always conflict. When I told him what I had in mind, his only question was, “What kind of rifle do I need to bring?”
I told him that he could shoot mine, to wear rubber boots, and I would be there in 30 minutes.
January into February may be the very best time of the year for hunting coyotes. As with white-tail deer and their running about during pre-rut and the chase-phase, the breeding season of the coyotes brings along with it a slight lowering of their guard, making them a little easier to coax, a little easier to trick. This time of year also offers a better-than-average chance of multiple kills per stand, especially if a female in heat is capped and left laying there with her scent drifting while calling is continued. Forget about prey distress. Now is the time to sound like a young, lonesome vixen by making short, high-pitched, trailing-off howls.
Adult coyote distress works effectively, too, because the coyotes in the area equate that to be a tussle between two males over a prized female.
My buddy and I parked the truck and were about halfway to our calling site when the coyote serenade began in earnest. Their shrill yelps, howls and choppy barks eerily pierced the cold that was settling on our shoulders and continued almost constantly as we quietly walked up the dirt road. We carefully crossed a flowing creek, its rocky bottom making the footing precarious as the cold water’s flow lapped at the tops of our boots’ rims.
Finally, all in place, the e-call made a single, lonesome howl that was countered by a close coyote.
Within one minute, my buddy was looking through an IR (infrared) viewfinder for the first time in his life. Making his view all the better was the pair of bright eyes of the slinking figure making its way across the open field in an attempt to get downwind. My buddy carefully followed the coyote through the viewfinder, and once on the downwind, the coyote stopped broadside to us as he searched for the source of the intruder’s howl. My buddy’s first shot on fur made the canine DRT (Dead Right There). Within 20 more minutes, the bark of my .22-250 AI silenced two more hormone-driven howlers.
January hunts can happen just as easy as that. Opportunity awaits those who locate the breeding groups and stealthily close in, and for those who use female invitation howls, adult distress or pup distress exclusively.
‘Tis the season to be the dominant predator in the field.
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