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Coyote calling can be an unexpected adventure By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Things don’t always go as planned when you are calling coyotes. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much.

If you are calling in coyote-rich country such as western Nebraska, there’s little doubt you can call in several in a day. Other places, not so much.

If I can call in one coyote for six different sets, that’s about average. So, you will spend a lot of time looking over the landscape with nothing to show for it.

But sometimes you get the surprise of your life.

It was early morning on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota a few years ago. Three of us were set up alongside a deep, tree-lined ravine. We were each leaning back against a tree trunk and looking out over the prairie. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon spreading its light slowly. It reminded me of raising a shade in a dark room.

Suddenly, out of the ravine burst a big, mangy-looking dog, snarling and looking left and right for that dying rabbit. I was holding the camera, not a gun and the beast was now right in front of me, staring into my eyes. I had tangled with wild dogs before and knew if they see a gun they will run. I had no gun. Yet, in a heartbeat he turned and ran back into the ravine.

Good riddance.

We called in a bobcat on that set, but the season was closed. The cat crossed right in front of us through a 100-yard long clearing and into the same ravine the dog had come from.

The cat ended up sitting in a plum patch not more than 12 feet away from one of us. After its curiosity was satisfied it turned back into the ravine and vanished.

Sometimes a little humor can be included.

Fran and I were with my cousin Denny Myhre and his wife, Audrey, driving down a road, I think in Grand Teton National Park, when two young coyotes crossed in front of us. I grabbed my camera with the 300mm lens.

“I’ll see if I can call them in,” I said.

Just as I left the car another filled with Japanese students pulled alongside asking what we had seen.

“Coyotes,” Denny answered.

“Mistake,” I thought.

I ran over the rise that was hiding the vehicles and ran about 200 yards to a lodgepole pine, which I got behind and began trying to catch my breath. Then I saw the two coyotes about 200 yards off and heading away. I did my dying rabbit sound with my mouth and as soon as they heard that they began running in. Hiding behind the tree trunk, I began making pictures of them.

At about one hundred yards out they stopped. I did the mouth squeak several times but they would not respond. Then they turned and ran.

“That was strange,” I thought. “They were about five-month-old pups and should have run right in.”

[Read more…]

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Change tactics for ‘educated’ coyotes By Larry Myhre

 

The dying rabbit screams were echoing off the hills on the other side of the valley. It was colder than a well digger’s heart and I was beginning to think this stand was going down as another exercise in futility.

Then I heard the drumming sound of galloping feet behind and to my right. I looked over my shoulder right into the yellow eyes of a coyote, sitting down and staring at me from about 12 feet away. Behind, another was charging in, his paws thumping the frozen ground so hard it sounded like a horse.

It was all over in about three seconds. I had two empty .243 shells on the ground and nothing to show for it but footprints in the snow.

And that’s how it is, sometimes, when calling coyotes. They don’t always come from where you expect them to.

Take another hunt in the Missouri Breaks in Nebraska. Three of us were sitting at the foot of a small wooded valley. The big draw up ahead had coyote written all over it, and I was about as confident as you can get on a coyote stand.

Twenty minutes of calling yielded nothing. Then one of my hunting partners whispered, “There’s a coyote up on that hill.”

There was a huge hill off to our right. I looked up there but could see nothing. There was plenty of snow across that picked cornfield so I should be able to see a coyote. Then I saw it loping down the hill, yet so far away it looked smaller than an ant.

Then it sat down and surveyed the valley we were sitting in.

“Don’t anybody move,” I whispered. [Read more…]

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The “Prime” Time for Predator Calling! By Gary Howey

  The weather has changed and its cold, too cold to do many outdoor activates, sure, ice fishing is coming soon, but it may be awhile before there’s enough ice to fish.

  One thing you can do if you bundle up warm is to call predators.  As the weather starts to change, become colder, furbearers, including coyotes and fox will have their heavy winter fur, which helps them make it through the winter.

  Then there are those poor coyotes that have developed the mange a terrible infliction where they lose all or most of their fur, with the most humane thing that could happen to them would be to put out of their misery.

  When it’s cold like it is, all critters and waterfowl will spend time moving and hunting, looking for some high protein food source to help keep their bodies warm. This means they’ll be out more as they have to eat often in order to make it through this tough time of the year.

   This is why, this time of the year is “prime” time to call predators, with several of the predators you may have come to your call be coyotes, fox and bobcats.

  Predator callers generally hunt with a small caliber rifle with lighter grain bullets, with 223-22-250 and 243 being three of the more popular calibers. Having s good variable scope mounted on tour rifle is also a good idea as it allows hunters to make some of the sometimes-difficult shots needed when hunting predators. 

  Getting permission to call predators is generally not too hard of a task as farmers and ranchers who’ve cattle have no love for predators. Predators are opportunists, taking advantage of anything that offering an easy meal and known to hang around calving yards.

All predator’s I mentioned above have excellent eyesight, hearing and an acute sense of smell, when calling predators you’ll want to glass the area you plan to call, then put together a plan, get in and set up quietly, which means using the terrain to your advantage. 

   Because the ground in the area is frozen or snow covered, you’ll want to come in slowly, making as little noise as possible and wearing some sort of camouflage to break up your outline is a big plus. Try to keep something, a cedar tree or some other vegetation between you and the area you’re calling when coming in to set up.

   The most important thing, as is with all hunting is to use the wind to your advantage by calling with the wind in your face so the keen nose of the predators don’t detect you.

  Even if the predators don’t spot you, they may attempt to circle around you to use the wind to their advantage. Don’t panic when this happens, and if you need to change shooting positions, do it slowly when the critter is in a low spot or behind a tree.

    Our best calling has been when we have two or more hunters and whenever possible facing opposite directions so we’ve both avenues of approach covered in case a coyote would come in behind us.

  Another mistake that some callers make, including our group is to hunt with just  scoped rifles, as on occasion, a coyote will pop up in front of you, too close to get a decent shot using a scope.  Now when we call, one of us always brings along a shotgun loaded with heavy loads.

  We use a combination of calls, relying heavily on our ICOtec electronic callers, but all hunters with us will also have mouth calls just in case we’re caught by surprise.

  The wounded rabbit calls, the cottontail and jackrabbit calls have been around a long time. In some areas, have been over used, making predators fooled by them once, much more cautious when coming into these calls. [Read more…]

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Now is the time to give coyote calling a try By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

The coyote sat on the ridge line for a very long time. He looked like a tiny dot highlighted against a graying sky.

I didn’t dare move.

The dog was looking for that dying rabbit he had heard, but he wasn’t going to rush headlong in.

“This one is going to try to circle around me,” I thought.

And then he began running down the hill. At about 400 yards out, he began angling towards my right. The wind was blowing across to my right. It wasn’t much of a wind, but he’d scent me for sure when he covered another 100 yards.

Then he ran behind a little rise, and I never saw him again.

That’s coyote hunting. There are coyotes, I believe, that will never be killed by a caller. But there are plenty of others that can be.

That’s why, when the temperature drops below zero and a few inches of snow finds its way to the ground, I began to think about digging out the calls and winter camo.

Calling coyotes isn’t particularly difficult. Here’s how we go about it.

I prefer to call right at dawn. It seems coyotes are still moving about after a night of hunting and are more willing to come in. However, they can be called with success all day long.

The equipment you need is not very extensive. Let’s look at guns first. Any rifle you have right now will work. If you plan to sell the pelts, the smaller calibers will cause less fur damage. The .204 Ruger is favored by coyote hunters who are trying to minimize pelt damage. A .223 is a common caliber. It has enough reach and won’t do a number on the pelt. Probably the all-around favorite for a predator round is the .22-250 Remington. It’s a fast round that will drop coyotes out to 400 yards and beyond. I use a Ruger M77 in .243. It’s loaded with ballistic tipped 55-grain bullets. It’s heavier than the other calibers, but not many coyotes run off after being hit with the .243.

However, you can hunt coyotes with any caliber you want. If fur damage is not one of your considerations, any centerfire cartridge can be used. And don’t overlook shotguns. We carry a shotgun on every hunt because we’ve had several occasions when we didn’t get the coyote because he was too close when we spotted him.

I used to hunt with a Harris bi-pod attached to my rifle, but I now use a pair of crossed shooting sticks or a monopod. They are more versatile.

When there is snow on the ground I use white camo and my gun is wrapped in a white camo sleeve. Your face mask should be white as well as your cap. If there is no snow, your camo should match the conditions where you will be hunting.

It’s probably easier for a beginner to the sport to use an electronic caller. Get one with a remote control so you don’t have sit right beside the box. Often coyotes will get conditioned to the dying rabbit sounds most callers use. With the electronic call you will have a lot of options such as woodpecker sounds, deer bleats, etc.

When it comes to mouth calls, there are lots of choices. I have both cottontail and jackrabbit calls. Cottontail calls work best in wooded areas, but out in the open I prefer the louder, coarser call of the jackrabbit. I sometimes carry a deer bleat call that I can make sound like a fawn in distress. To coax a coyote in closer I carry a squeaker.

I also carry a coyote howler. Howling works throughout the year, but it is especially effective during February when the dogs become very territorial because of breeding. We’ll save coyote howling techniques for another column. It’s definitely something you will want to add to your predator hunting bag of tricks.

The other thing you will need is some kind of seat. I use the same collapsible chair I use for turkey hunting, but any of the turkey hunting pads or seats will work. You just need something that will keep you dry and comfortable.

Picking a calling site is the most important choice you will make. Preferably it should be elevated to give you a commanding view of the area in front and to both sides of you. Also you will need a background to sit against such as a yucca plant or cedar tree. The wind should be blowing into your face or to either side of you. [Read more…]

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Snows on the ground They are on the Move Gary Howey

This winter, the countryside is covered in the white stuff, snow, which means it is prime time to get out and “take a shot” at calling predators.

No longer can predators, fox and coyotes go almost anywhere to pick up an easy meal as the pastures fence lines and shelterbelts are now covered or buried in snow.

Winter makes it hard for predators to find the critters they eat to build up their energy level and to stay warm during those cold winter nights.

The young not so bright critters, the weak and the old are long since gone, while others have gone into hibernation, so predators in the winter have to work hard and at times travel great distances to find a meal.

Predators like all of Mother Nature’s critters are opportunists, taking the easiest route and taking every opportunity for an easy meal.

When predators hear a distress call or the sound of another animal in trouble, whether it is a bird or fur bearer, they are, going to high tail it to the sound hoping to find whatever is making the noise easy pickings.

Calling Predators isn’t a walk in the park, as predators have keen senses including their sight and sense of smell, which can pick you out before you even get set up to call. Do not get me wrong, you do not need to be a Rhodes Scholar to call predators; you just need to use common sense.

One of those things needed to be successful, is to get into the area you want to call without being seen as the eyes of a predator can spot movement at great distances, so stealth, keeping the noise down and blending in with the terrain you will cross are important.

This is where some sort of camouflage, concealment enters into play. When you are calling in snow covered ground, some sort of snow camo can make or break you. My partners our cameraman and I all don complete camo, and at times, wearing snow ghille suits. Everything we bring into the field where we will set up and call, including our rifles, shotguns, clothing, stocking caps, and facemasks match the terrain.

In northeast Nebraska, where we do much of our calling, there is an over abundance of Cedar trees we can back into when we call.

This means, we will be setting on the ground in the snow while our backs are against the Cedars and when we hunt this way why we wear dark clothing above the waist and snow camo below!

You do not need expensive camo to call predators during the winter as something as simple as an old white sheet can do the job. If you are hunting in open ground, you can cut a slot in the sheet, pull it over your head and wear it like a Mexican serape or poncho. [Read more…]

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Calling coyotes can result in surprise visits By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

The wooded valley was quiet. Snow carpeted the ground and my eyes searched through the trees for any sign of movement.
I was perched, back against a tree, on a ridge overlooking this beautiful wooded scene.

The Loess Hills in winter is one of my favorite places, and calling coyotes is one of my favorite outdoor pastimes.
I raised the call to my lips and sent out another series of rabbit screams.

Nothing moved. Then I sensed, more than heard, a presence overhead and it landed on a branch not 10 feet away. A great horned owl sat there peering at me with its large, yellow eyes. The question now was, do I continue calling or would that draw this feathered killer to attack. I continued calling and the bird just sat there. After years of predator calling, I’ve learned that you never know what might come in.

Another time I was in South Dakota, sitting with my back against a big wooden fence post on our farm. The creek ran through a pasture that hadn’t seen a cow in years. It was winter. Snow on the ground. The sun was just beginning to set. A perfect time to tempt a coyote.

I brought my call, a fawn call made more for deer hunting than coyote hunting, and began putting out squeals of distress. Then I waited, eyes focused on the brushy fence line on the other side. I called again and waited. Suddenly, to my right, a big doe and both of her fawns rushed in. Startled, I waved them off and ended the calling session as it was getting dark. [Read more…]

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When the Snow flies It is Predator Calling Time Gary Howey

When the snow flies, predator hunters know this is the ideal time to start calling predators.  It is a wonder that after my first predator calling trip that I ever did it again. One of those trips into the field, which will make you wonder what you were doing out there.

A friend of mine from Omaha who works as a manufacturer’s representative for a call company called one afternoon and asked if I would like to try howling for coyotes.

Back then, I was game for almost everything, so I told him why not. I figured we had a couple of hours of daylight left and with the new snow on the ground; we could easily spot the coyotes.

The sun had just set when he pulled into our driveway and I figured our hunting opportunity had disappeared along with the sun.
Well, I was mistaken as he planned on hunting after dark, with the two of us setting up back to back, howling at the coyotes, using the light of the full moon to spot them as they came in.

[Read more…]

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Some thoughts about the ones that got away By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the SiouxCity Journal.

It came charging in. It’s paws pounding the frozen soil so hard it sounded like a horse on the gallop.

My thumb found the safety on my .243. I turned my head to see what was running in, and stared right into the face of a coyote sitting on its haunches not 12 feet away, tongue lolling out in a kind of half smile. But behind that one another was charging in and making all the noise.

“Shoot him, shoot him!” Gary yelled.

But my gun was attached to a bipod and set up to shoot downhill in front of us. I couldn’t get on either coyote, and they were both on the run away from us and into a ravine and then were gone. [Read more…]

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The “In” Between Time of the Year By Gary Howey

This is the time of the year, we call the “in” between” seasons because hunting is winding down and in some areas; the weather has not been cold enough to build what I would call good ice. We are in between seasons or things we can do in the outdoors.

If you are going to do any ice fishing, you will have to head north to find any “good” ice.

The ice fishing in northeastern South Dakota is going strong, as there is good ice and good fishing on most of the Glacial Lakes and sloughs.

If you are going to ice fish anywhere, exercise caution, as the ice in some areas is thin! [Read more…]