Predators have a special type of rivalry with humans. Whether the predator is a mountain lion, bear, or coyote, humans share a taste for fresh meat with these creatures. Human civilization has hit predators hardest and coyote hunting is the latest in a long string of attempts to exterminate (or heavily reduce) a species.
Sometimes coyote hunting is necessary to protect livestock or prevent pets from being attacked. In this guide, we are going to provide a full overview on how to hunt coyote…
…however, we are also going to treat the animal with respect and pose one major question that many hunters do not ask of themselves.
Coyote hunting is not the same as deer hunting or elk hunting for one major reason: most people do not eat coyote. It’s almost universally shunned to eat a coyote in regions where they are killed like vermin, but we will push back against this stereotype and ask an even greater question.
Expect to learn the following:
- Where coyote hunting is best (including how to kill them in suburbs)
- How to use coyote calls effectively
- Cheap ways to make coyote decoys (that work)
- Major mistakes every beginner coyote hunter is making
Let’s get started with a brief overview of the coyote history in America.
Coyote Hunting in America: A Longstanding Rivalry
In what is today the United States of America, coyote have long been a part of the land. The coyote first evolved in North America 5.3 million years ago and all similar species, such as jackals, wolves, and wild dogs, spread around the globe from this North American common ancestor. Only about 1 million years ago the coyote in its current form developed, which American hunters face off with daily .
The Native American tribes of America saw coyote, like most animals, as a reverent piece of their culture and spiritual practice. While the natives revered (and probably also feared) them, it was not long before European settlers found a dislike for the creatures and we have tried to exterminate them ever since.
Every year nearly 500,000 coyotes are killed through coyote hunting. Many are shot from small planes, helicopters, or coyote calls, which lure the predators into ambush. The coyote still flourishes across the country and finding a niche within urban communities and suburbs.
Coyote Hunting Habitats: Where Are They Located?
While our conservationist efforts did wonders for wild turkeys, whitetail deer, and numerous prey animals, the American government was allocating millions of dollars in the 1930s to exterminate coyotes then considered the “archpreditor of our time”.
Despite all our efforts, it didn’t work. The coyote are incredibly adaptable creatures, which is why they have flourished beyond their traditional hunting grounds and within suburbs and urban environments as well.
Trying to hunt coyote in the timberlands and forested regions is challenging, but especially if you are doing this for your livestock, you may not have a choice. For many, the challenge of hunting coyote in the woods is an added challenge.
There are a few strategies that you can take in the timberlands. For one, find clearings or flat country where you have more visibility. Without visibility, the coyote has a distinct camouflage advantage.
If the wooded area is hilly, try to find hollows, gullies, or valleys that will allow you to set up on one side and also survey the other side. This has a distinct advantage because coyotes will typically be visible to you from further away.
Other than that, it will often come down to how often you move around. Once you have completed a sequence (waiting adequate time for a response), moving on to a new location is a priority because coyote have large territories are are moving regularly.
Usually flat land means farming and raising livestock and the coyotes living here are often considered more intelligent due to their facing coyote hunters regularly. Farmers typically hunt coyote to save their livestock so there is more hunting pressure on the animals in that area.
Even so, the coyote populations have exploded in farm regions. The high population doesn’t make it easy. The limited cover can be a challenge for hunters as coyote will spook at the sight (or scent) of a human.
The big change with flatlands (once you’ve got a proper set up) is that the coyote call needs to be loud. They need some major sound in order to get their attention and force them to commit. There are some calls (specifically a Primos’ Raspy Coaxer), which have a greater distance and for $13, it might be worth adding to your pack.
In the big expanses of the old west, coyote hunting is perfect for beginners. Still not easy by any means, the wide open spaces and high population of coyote provide plenty of opportunities.
Suburban Coyote Hunting
Hunting coyote in suburban areas is challenging for more reasons than the chase. Using rifles and other weapons within city limits where people are living can be dangerous and risky business for both the hunter and those in the community. Beyond that, private land poses a restriction that must be overcome.
If you have land you own or simply have permission to hunt on suburban land, it’s a good idea to set up, make your calls, and wait for one (or more) coyote to come in. After shooting one, you might find others come to investigate as the suburban coyote tend to be more competitive with each other.
Tactics: How to Hunt Coyote with Predator Calls
Coyote predator calls are not all made equal and neither are those who do the calling. As with any kind of calling, it requires finesse and skill. It also requires different things depending on the environment that you’re in.
In the suburbs, you don’t need to be as loud to get a coyote’s attention. Some softer finesse-filled calls can lure them in while farm and flatland requires much more range. Using general predator calls is highly effective for most regions.
A good rule of thumb is to call loudly and wait for a short time (15 – 20 minutes). Within that time, add 3-5 distress calling sequences in semi-equal intervals. Once you have gone through the sequence, it might be time to move on.
Some coyote hunters who are using predator calls feel the need to stay put for extended periods of time, but this may not work out best. Invest the time in a spot, but be willing to move on and call in a new spot. Coyote are constantly moving and it may simply be a matter of being unable to spot them.
Coyote Decoys: Affordable Ways to Trick a Coyote
Aside from coyote calls, using decoys can be helpful in certain situations. Whether you want to go through the added trouble for the coyote is up to you, but there are simple techniques that you can use in order to get the coyote even more excited.
There are decoys that you can purchase for under $40, but there is no need to do that if you have some creativity and supplies at home. Excuse the advertisements in the following video, but Outdoor Life created a great guide:
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A Question for Would-Be Coyote Hunters
Beginners and even advanced hunters should have takeaways from this guide about how to be more effective coyote hunting. For many people, coyote hunting is not only a sport, but also a way to protect livestock and property.
That is understandable. Even for those who hunt coyote purely for sport, you’ll get no judgment from us. However, it’s worth asking some deeper questions about our obsession with hunting coyote and whether we can approach it in a different way as ethical hunters.
When government agencies started investigating what coyote actually ate in the 1930s they were surprised to find that they typically eat rodents, rabbits, fruit, vegetables, mice, and carrion (dead animals). They are mostly scavengers and while they will definitely be opportunistic in attacking a baby cow, they don’t focus on livestock in the same way we think they do.
Beyond that, when we kill a deer or an elk (and in many cases even wild hogs), the ethical approach is to eat the meat rather than letting it go to waste. For many reasons (not least of which our love for similar creatures like dogs), we are opposed to eating coyote… but why?
Here is a short clip of the famous conservationist and hunter Steven Rinella cooking and eating coyote. In their own words “…it tastes like overcooked duck”:
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Whether we want to believe it or not, coyote meat can taste good and it can be a part of our hunting practice to make sure we are hunting as ethically as possible.
How to Eat Coyote
For coyote, grilling and charring is probably your best bet. Here is a quick cajun coyote recipe for those of us interested in eating what we kill.
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian-style seasoning
- 2 tablespoons lemon pepper
- Garlic powder to taste
- 2lbs of fresh thawed coyote meat – pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
- In a large shallow dish, mix the oil, Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and lemon pepper. Place the coyote meat in the dish, and turn to coat with the mixture. Cover, and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
- Preheat the grill for high heat.
- Lightly oil the grill grate. Drain coyote, and discard marinade. Place coyote on hot grill and cook for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.