The Ideal Place To Squeal

By Jace Bauserman

fox in field

Few things trump the feeling of teeth and claws sprinting to a call, and techniques change with seasons. Coyotes often run to rabbit or bird distress sounds in late summer and early fall, while a howl produces better in the late winter mating season. But the right call only gets you so far. If you want to be a true coyote assassin, you need to know what to look for in a stand site.

Sage Plains

Coyotes go with sage-dappled plains like Michael Jordan goes with basketball. Pockets of heavy sage with sprinkled cedars and rolling hills make ideal habitat. The sage and cedars are great for bedding and loafing, and of course, dogs know rabbits, mice and birds inhabit these areas. Isolated prairie ponds and stock tanks provide water, and cattle frequent these landscapes as well.

Start breaking down larger tracts of cover by prospecting on onX. I use the Hybrid map mode, which provides 3D aerial imagery paired with elevation contour lines. First, I note water sources. Next, I look for cover that gives way to more open dirt. Brushy creek bottoms slicing through vast sage flats can be money.

During map study sessions, predict where coyotes will come from, and be sure these areas are upwind of your planned stand position. A crosswind will also work, but you’ll need to shoot before a dog hits your wind stream.

Pay attention while walking in. Use dry creeks, valleys and the backside of hills to disguise your approach. Never silhouette yourself if at all possible. While walking in, stay quiet and pay attention to sign. Keep an eye peeled for droppings and tracks. Coyotes cover big distances, and if dogs are in the area, sign isn’t hard to find.

If possible, gain a little elevation. It doesn’t take much. A small hill or mound will do. Snuggle into some sage, cactus, tumbleweeds, a cedar trunk or whatever’s handy, and make your stand.

If you do everything right, you should be able to see a lot of ground and catch a dog coming long before he’s in range, especially if you’re downwind.

Bald Prairie

While finding a spot to stash the vehicle can be a daunting task, open prairie landscapes that seem to stretch to the horizon are some of my favorite calling locales. Most hunters overlook these spots, thinking there is nowhere for a coyote to hide. This is false. Even ground that appears pancake flat has areas of microtopography. Not to mention a coyote can disappear in 4-inch-tall grass.

Pay attention to areas with cattle and use tumbleweed-lined fencerows and ever-so-slight rises and dips in the landscape to ease into position. These fencelines also make great areas to sit against. While walking in, keep your eyes up. If you don’t bump a dog and can get in and settled, you have a great chance to call one up.

Wooded Waterways

Across the country, river and creek bottoms are home to deer, turkeys, rabbits and throngs of birds. Coyotes love to travel them. The natural paths provide great hunting, bedding and loafing cover.

Personally, I don’t like to set up in the actual timber. Too much can go wrong. Coyotes pinpoint your sound and use cover to their advantage to get downwind without being seen. I’ve had lots of mishaps where coyotes popped up super close and caught me by surprise. By the time I could get my shotgun shouldered, the dogs were bouncing through the timber like a pinball, and getting a clear shot was impossible.

When hunting wooded waterways, I like to slip across agricultural fields and set up on the fringe. My goal is to get within 200 yards of where I think the dogs will come from. If no agriculture is present, the same methodology applies. There will be plenty of open to semi-open areas off the main waterway. Use the landscape, get on the fringe and call dogs close.

And Most Importantly

The best caller, most accurate rifle, perfect camo—none of it matters if coyotes aren’t in the area. Pay attention, year-round, to where you’re seeing coyotes. Mark those locations and note the time and date you saw the dog. In addition, make a few night drives around your calling areas. Send out a few howls and see where the coyotes are. The legwork will make all the difference when it’s time to hunt.

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