You Make The Call

By Jace Bauserman

Calling equipment and fox

Calling predators is fun, and more hunters are taking up the sport every year. This is a good thing, but it also increases pressure, and that equals smarter predators. This is especially true for those chasing hides on public dirt. Here’s how to choose the right calls and set yourself apart from the competition.

Now For Something Completely Different

The single most commonly used sound to call predators is the rabbit in distress—both cottontail and jack. I’ve used it on public land and have watched coyotes and foxes run from it. Why? They’ve heard it before.

Of course, mixing up sounds is nothing new. The question is, are you using sounds that match prey in your area? Here’s an example. While hunting some close-to-home dirt, I bumped into a few other callers. They had made 18 stands over two days and had yet to call a coyote. Their sounds included raspy hen turkey yelps, raccoon fighting and a few others.

On paper, they should have worked. But there was one big problem—none of their sounds matched any of the local prey.

Do some research. Take a drive around your calling grounds and note specific bird species, small mammals and even big game. Even though a coyote is usually no match for a healthy adult deer or antelope, fawns make prime pickings.

Lucky Duck Calls

Also visit with a local game biologist. They might be able to point you toward prey animals you might not be keen to. Just like a fly fisherman matches the hatch, you need to match your sounds. When on the hunt, keep an eye open for predator droppings. Dark ones mean predators are eating meat, and if they’re eating birds, feathers are typically in the droppings.

Birds

My favorite and most effective calls are bird sounds. They don’t get used a ton, and electronic calling manufacturers offer lots of them. I carry a bird field guide in my truck at all times. When I notice large numbers of a particular bird, I look it up in the guide and then search for its distress sounds.

Recently, while hunting western Oklahoma, I noticed lots of scissor-tailed flycatchers. I searched the sound, downloaded it to my Fox Pro and killed seven coyotes in 10 stands. Coincidence? Maybe. However, before downloading the sound and making the switch, I’d blanked on six stands in a row. As in all forms of hunting, it’s often the little things that make a big difference.

Coyote Sounds


Jason coyote howled to get the buck on his feet, and he didn’t take another step. Hunter’s high-shoulder hit was perfect, and the buck expired in seconds. He’d done his work and put in his time on the bench. He was confident in his rifle and load, and a gorgeous buck was the result.

The trick is knowing what specific vocalizations mean and when coyotes use them. For instance, a female submission howl is great during mating season, but isn’t the top choice during non-mating months. Coyote pup screams can be money for late summer and early fall when small pups are close to the den. Interrogation howls are great locators and can used all year. Do some research and learn what coyotes are saying and why they’re saying it.

Stay On Stand


The last big aspect of putting more hides on stretchers is simply sitting longer. Too many callers give up after 15 minutes. Yes, most coyotes I’ve called over the years have come within 15 minutes, but I’ve also called lots of them as late as 45 minutes into a stand. This is especially true during months when food sources are more abundant and during stands that involve more coyote vocalization stands. If I feel I’m in a good spot where coyotes can hear me at a great distance, I always sit for at least 45 minutes. Give your sounds time to work for you, and it’ll pay off.