Coyote hunting is something that although controversial for some, is in many ways something that needs to be done to balance certain ecosystems on earth.
The geographic range of coyote populations was at one point in time-limited to the Great Plains of North America. Over the past 60 to 70 years, the range of coyote populations has expanded by more than 40%. Coyotes can now be found throughout the United States.
This boom in coyote populations and the resulting geographic habitat expansion is a direct result of the loss of their natural predators. Wolves and cougar populations were almost completely wiped out in the early 1900s by farmers and other people looking to protect their families and livestock.
Hunting coyotes is an important step to take in regulating their populations and protecting other animals in their habitat. Let’s discuss some of the best coyote hunting strategies and address some frequently asked questions that arise.
Why Hunt For Coyotes?
Coyotes are predators who quite literally have little to no competition. Without serious regulation efforts including hunting, their population experiences steady and substantial growth year after year. Coyotes are intelligent animals who are designed to adapt and then reproduce.
Most animals that we have learned about will not be able to continue to live if their food source is depleted or eliminated. Coyotes, on the other hand, are incredibly resourceful and will migrate and adapt to new locations with other food sources. Here are a few reasons why hunting for coyotes is important.
- In order to help deer and small game populations manage Coyote populations
- Coyotes are known to spread disease
- Keep your hunting skills sharp in the offseason when coyote hunting is prime
- Hunt all year-round
Best Weapons For Coyote Hunting
There are a number of things to consider when deciding on the best weapon for coyote hunting including knockdown power, accuracy, recoil, and more. Let’s discuss these aspects and decide on a few suggestions for the best coyote hunting weapons.
In many cases, a shot taken at a coyote will be at a distance in excess of 200 yards, potentially even more. In these situations, the rifle you are using must have enough knockdown power to accommodate these distances and ensure a clean kill.
Coyotes are small, low to the ground, and very agile. Coming in at an average weight of about 40 pounds, these animals are hard to hit especially at long distances. The vital organs you should be aiming for are about the size of a human fist. Not a huge target, and therefore accuracy in your rifle is very important.
Flat Trajectory/High Velocity
There are many coyote hunting situations that end up being somewhat spur of the moment. In these scenarios, it often isn’t possible for the hunter to set up or wait for the perfect shot. Having a rifle with a high velocity and flat trajectory will allow for more forgiveness in these fast-action moments.
Having a rifle that produces low recoil will allow hunters to hold their position after the shot in order to evaluate the success of the shot and the location of the target. If the situation arises in which a second shot is needed, low recoil will allow you to evaluate the situation and reset quickly for the follow-up shot.
The type of projectile coyote hunters want will depend on their intentions. If they are looking to save the pelts which can be sold, a smaller caliber rifle with a lead tip, spear pointed projectile should be used to keep the pelt intact. If they are simply looking to exterminate some vermin and want a sure kill, the larger hollow point expanding on impact projectiles that will make a big hole and kill on impact is recommended.
In terms of the rifle itself, one of the absolute best and most heavily recommended coyote hunting guns is the Savage Arms 12 FV Bolt-Action Varmint Rifle. With some of the best hunting features, this rifle will be a great asset for your coyote hunting endeavors.
There are a number of things to do in order to properly trap a coyote. Let’s go over some of the most important aspects.
Using the right trap
Coyotes are very strong animals. Using a trap that is large enough, is powerful, and is fast-acting is important. A 3 coil-spring trap with a jaw spread of about 6 inches or 15 centimeters is recommended.
Make sure the trap has a center swivel mechanism and a well-reinforced base plate as well. These characteristics will help reduce the likelihood that the trapped foot gets injured by allowing the trapped coyote to pull on a heavy chain attached to the base.
Cage traps are known to not be very effective when it comes to coyotes because they will sense danger and tend to stay away from them.
There are a number of manufacturers that offer these traps. There are some cases in which people modify existing traps in order to accommodate the trapping requirements for coyotes (widen a narrow trap, add reinforcement, etc.).
Setting the trap
Focus your trap location in places that you know the coyote has been for. Look for tracks, droppings, and other signs that would indicate their recent presence.
Choose a high ground or ridge location. These are areas that coyotes like to hang around, and because of the elevation, you will have less of a chance of accidentally catching raccoons, possums, and other small animals.
Catching the coyote
Make sure you add the right type of lure or bait. It tends to work best when trap setters put two or more lures in their trap setup.
One of the more popular meat baits for coyote trappers is some sort of tainted meat (beaver, cattle, skunk, etc.). There are commercially made lures that will be less messy than meat baits. These contain odors that coyotes are attracted to such as beaver castor and skunk essence.
Once the coyote has been trapped, it is often simply recommended to seek a professional’s help in order to remove it from the trap. A trapped coyote is a very dangerous coyote and should be handled with extreme caution.
There are a number of common mistakes that many novice coyote hunters make while out on their expeditions. Here are a few of the most important mistakes to avoid making as a coyote hunter looking for success.
Hunting where there are no coyotes:
Scouting is an important part of coyote hunting in that it prevents hunters from wasting time trying to hunt in locations that don’t have any coyotes!
Look for tracks, feeding sites, and droppings to determine the best spots for coyote hunting. Be prepared to move with the packs as they will relocate when hunters intrude.
Spoiling your setup
The spot where hunters choose to position themselves is crucial to a successful hunt. The setup starts from the minute you get to your hunt location and hunting site.
Keep this in mind before you go jumping out of your car and slamming the door right off the bat. Be mindful of your surroundings and remember, coyotes don’t want to be hunted and will disperse at the slightest inkling of danger.
Before you simply choose a random spot next to an overgrown bush and call it a day because you are lazy, ask yourself if it is really the best possible place to be. Choose your location based on effectiveness not based on simplicity.
Be aware of your environment before you make the mistake of spoiling your hunting setup. Stay quiet, stay humble, stay focused, and always remember that you are the one entering the coyote’s habitat.
Giving up too soon
One of the most common mistakes coyote hunters make is one of the most simple – giving up on a spot or hunting location too soon.
A well-known rule of thumb is to wait at least 30 minutes at a setup location before thinking about moving on. Oftentimes, calls will travel a significant distance, and as a result, coyotes that are far away will take over 20 minutes to make their way over to the source.
Give your location a chance before you give up on it and move to a new spot. Patience is often the key to hunting.
Hunting pressured dogs
Coyotes living in areas that are and have been heavily hunted will naturally be more aware and therefore harder to hunt. Remember that you probably aren’t the only ones who have hunted in your area, coyotes are incredibly adaptive and will relocate if danger presents itself.
When you are hunting pressured dogs it is important to change up your tactics, try new things and be innovative with your hunting strategies. Old tricks will be anticipated by cautious coyotes and will not prove to be very successful.
What Is The Best Time To Hunt Coyotes?
Coyote hunting is something that can be done throughout most of the calendar year. In terms of the best season to hunt, the best time to hunt coyotes is during the winter season. As the winter goes on the coyote populations will do less nighttime hunting and will be out and about during the daytime. In the winter, coyotes will also tend to travel together and provide more hunting opportunities than in the summer season.
Coyotes are known to be nocturnal hunters, which means that the best times to hunt them would be at dusk and dawn for the most part. This is when they will usually be most active, however as discussed they will be more active during the day as the temperature drops.
Are Coyotes Hard To Hunt?
The answer here is yes and no. Coyotes are very smart animals who are also known to be incredibly good at adapting to their surroundings. With this being said, if you don’t know what you are doing and are susceptible to making some of the common coyote hunting mistakes, it will be hard to hunt them.
Coyotes are also small and fast, making them naturally much harder to hunt and kill than some of the larger and slower game on the menu.
With this being said, coyotes have incredibly overinflated populations making them readily available for hunters. Thanks to the sheer number of these animals present in our ecosystems, locating them is relatively easy for hunters to do.
They are also known as food and scrap scavengers, which means that they can be quite easily baited or lured by the right scents or meat baits. Hunters who know what to use shouldn’t have too hard of a time creating some attention.
Will A Coyote Attack A Human?
Coyotes will not see humans as potential prey or potential food. Their usual prey targets are much smaller animals like mice, rabbits, and moles. With this being said, like many other animals, coyotes will in some cases chase something that tries to run from them.
If you happen to find yourself in a confrontation with a coyote, stand your ground and make yourself big. Wave your arms, make lots of loud noise, and if possible throw objects near the coyote to scare it away.
If coyotes have been fed by a human and associate them with feeding, they may get somewhat demandingly aggressive and end up nipping and biting at the human in question. It is generally advised to simply not feed any coyotes in order to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
Why Is Coyote Mating Season Dangerous?
The coyote mating season is considered to be dangerous for small dogs and other smaller pets. During mating season, male coyotes become more aggressive and have been known to attack pets that have been left outside, even for a few minutes. There have even been reports of coyotes jumping over fences to attack pets on the other side.
Coyotes are intelligent and will pick up on routines and patterns in behavior. If they set their sites on something for an attack, they will observe and wait for the right time to pounce. Always walk your dog with a leash and don’t let any cats outside wander during coyote mating seasons.
In conclusion, coyote hunting is becoming a necessary part of regulating the coyote populations in North America. Protecting livestock and helping deer and other game animals cope with the influx of coyotes in their habitats is incredibly important for the overall health of our northern ecosystems.
As a hunter, choosing the right weapon and ammunition, learning how to avoid common mistakes, and perfecting the art of coyote hunting from all angles isn’t as easy as some may think. Use our guide to help develop your skills and become an expert coyote hunter.