He was more than a little upset – furious you could say – all the more angry because he couldn’t quite find me though he was certain I was close. I was there for his woman and he was having none of it. He was dead set on ripping me a new one for entering his house and trying to make off with her. I didn’t blame him. I would have done the same, or worse. He screamed in rage, his adrenaline no doubt giving him tunnel vision. Then he saw me, and I him. One of us was going to die, and each was convinced it was the other.
The day had started out peacefully, with fresh snow steadily falling, giving everything a Christmas card look. It was beautiful, the kind of snow that makes everything quiet. All the usual noises were muted as if the world was wearing a silencer. As I made my way to his place I had one thing on my mind: stealth. I was up to no good, so I moved slowly, silently. As I glided through their kitchen they had no idea I was there. They went on with their lives, secure in knowing they were home and no one would dare make an unwanted entry – no one but me. I continued on and finally settled where I would ambush him. He would die here.
When we saw each other the snow was still falling and the daylight was quickly fading behind the thick clouds. He didn’t come straight at me the way I expected. I caught him in the corner of my eye. He was off to my 3 o’clock, so as he raged I slowly pivoted to face him. He was looking right at me, and he was kicking mad now. Spit sprayed as he screamed at me, enraged at my guile. After all, who would dare sneak into another’s bedroom and announce ill intent for his mate? Well I did and I hadn’t been subtle about it. Up to this point I had lied to him. I wasn’t after his main squeeze. I was there to kill him, and he had fallen into my trap.
He was close, almost too close really. His face seemed to fill my scope and it was dialed down to 3x. Just below the chin I thought. The suppressed shot wasn’t as loud as the thud of the bullet impact. The hollow point caught him a little right of his centerline, but it went through the heart. He was dead but he didn’t know it. All he knew was that he had been fooled. He wheeled and ran, blood spraying as he went. It was done.
Minutes passed by and I hardly moved, trying now to complete the pair by killing his mate. I called to her, but she never came. Had she witnessed the whole thing? Maybe I was the one with tunnel vision? No matter, light was quickly fading into darkness and I had a body to recover. I walked over to where he had yelled his last and followed the blood – it was everywhere. The trail was easy to read. He only made it about 20 steps before piling up. I found him there where he died, and inspected the damage. My adrenaline was still pumping as I tried to recount the last few minutes. I dragged him off and made my getaway.
Coyote hunting is a challenging game of stealth and trickery; you must convince the coyote that something is true when it isn’t. First you must fool him well enough to get him close. This isn’t easy, as he is known as wily for a reason. Once he is there you have to keep your wits and make the shot before he figures out he’s been had. This requires alertness to see him before he sees you, and cool nerves to make the shot while the adrenaline flows. Finally you have to keep at it after repeatedly failing; you have to stay after it. To fool a coyote you must make him believe an event is happening in his backyard, in his kitchen, or in his bedroom. The three main methods used to call coyotes in for a kill are: (1) I’m here for your woman, (2) I’m trespassing on your turf, and (3) here is an easy meal. The hunt described above was a memorable one, and the big male had fallen for the first trick. This method works when coyotes are paired up for mating season, which generally starts to happen around Christmas or so. Once this happens, coyotes are more territorial than usual. I had used a male coyote challenge howl after I snuck into what I thought was his territory, and he came to kick the butt of the intruder after about 10 minutes and just a few howls. The second method is pretty much the same as the first, howling once you are in likely coyote country. Coyotes will often answer a howl with a howl, and the back and forth calling can be fun. The third method involves making a prey in distress sound such as a dying rabbit. Making these call sounds is easier than it seems, and I am proof that the calls don’t have to be perfect. The easiest way to get in the game is to buy an electronic predator call such as the FoxPro Fusion. This is what I use. It’s very easy to use, has 100 sounds programmed in, and will take up to 1000 sounds. The Fusion is everything a predator caller would want and more. I’ll do a full review of this in a later blog.
The coyote calling game does not have to cost a lot of money. Hand calls are inexpensive. Zepp’s, Verminator, and FoxPro all make good hand calls. I’ve even called in a coyote with a blade of grass – seriously. When out driving on a forestry two track a coyote ran into a thicket off the side of the road. I went over the hill, parked, grabbed my rifle, and searched franticly for a call. I didn’t have one, so I took a thick blade of grass from the side of the road and got set up. Once my rifle was on my shooting sticks I cupped my hands, put the grass between my thumbs and made that whistle sound we all made in grade school. That sound was close enough to a rabbit in distress sound to get that coyote to stick his head out and that was all I needed. I think that coyote was about as memorable as the ones I take with my high tech gear.
My main go to coyote rig is overkill for sure, but hey, I like gear and I know how to use it. I run a gas gun with an AR Performance 18 inch barrel .223 Wylde chamber, with an AR Performance high performance bolt. Harrison Beene makes these and if you sniff around the 68forums you will find out how good they are. The handguard is also AR Performance. The buttstock is from Magpul, and the suppressor is a titanium Hurricane from SRT. The main optic is a Leupold Mark 6 3-18 with a TMR reticle. I know, overkill. I also have a Warne RAMP mount that holds a Burris FastFire as a sidecar red dot sight for up close runners. The whole thing has a DIY Cerakote job, camouflaged in desert sand and FDE using the laundry bag method. I use Hornady 60 gr VMAX, currently in Black Hills blue box ammunition. My pants are whatever I have, but I do use a ghillie top and my hat is a homemade ghillie deal to break up the outline of my head. I use a pad to sit on so that my 40 minute maximum sets are easy to do without having a cheek fall asleep. I use Bog Pod shooting sticks, and a simple, compact range finder to mark known distances when I first sit down.
One main reason I coyote hunt is because it gets me outside any time of the year. Most states don’t even have a season, so it’s a year round deal. Have a half a day off? Go coyote hunting. Many ranchers will let you on to coyote hunt because they want them dead. As long as you are respectful and responsible you should be ok. I’ve met some great people knocking on doors to hunt coyotes. Another reason I call coyotes is the excitement. The ambush in the snow described above was just one of two coyotes I called in and killed on that hunt. In between those kills I had about half a dozen sets that led to no responses, but it was fun just the same. You never know when they will come in. There are no 100% rules for coyotes, which is part of the challenge. Coyotes can see better than us, hear better than us, and smell better than us. They move silently and we really are sneaking around in their bedrooms, kitchens, etc. It’s a fun fight for sure.