Use Camouflage and Confidence on Oregon Coyote Hunts
By Gary Lewis
The Oregon coyote is well-educated and comfortable living near humans. He prowls Portland's golf courses, hunting rodents and birds. In and around the suburbs, he seeks road-killed rockchucks, unsuspecting housecats and domestic dogs. Away from humans, Coast Range coyotes and high desert howlers hunt anything from mice to mule deer making their living on the land.
Attempts at eradicating the coyote have fallen short. And well they should. Nature needs stability and predators are part of that balance. Another part of the balance is human. As stewards of land and wildlife, we have a responsibility to keep coyotes in check.
Late winter and early spring, while deer, elk and pronghorns are still on winter range, is one of the best times to hunt coyotes. Head east past Klamath Falls, Bend, Madras and Tygh Valley to find open country coyotes on public land. Taped recordings of rabbits in distress, woodpeckers, turkeys, coyote pups, and rodents can be used to bring them in. Mouth calls, however, provide more versatility, and they don't require the use of electronics.
Decoys are gaining favor among coyote hunters. Some use a stuffed animal, others use a cardboard cutout of a rabbit or another small animal. The idea is to focus the coyote's attention, and to provide visual attraction in combination with the calling.
Use camouflage clothing and gloves to break up your outline. Keep all movement to a minimum, moving only your eyes as you call. Study the land before you call to determine likely approaches, then call for at least 15 minutes before moving to another setup.
When using a mouth call, put fright and pain in your calling. When imitating a rabbit cry, make calls of short duration, rather than wailing. Start soft, build to a crescendo, then taper off, making each call series weaker than the last.
Often, the alpha dog will be the first to respond, charging in to steal a meal. In many cases, a subordinate coyote will also be drawn to the call, out of curiosity and hunger. After your first shot, keep calling, another coyote may come in. Often, a magpie or a crow will precede a coyote to the call.
Two or three hunters should set up where they can watch for animals approaching from all directions. Arm one shooter with a shotgun loaded with BB shot, the others with rifles. Shots may be taken as close as 10 feet or as far out as 400 yards.
The best coyote guns are flat shooting, small-caliber, centerfire rifles like the .223, .22-250, and .243, sighted to hit point-of-aim at 100 yards. Leave the scope set on 3- or 4-power to afford a wider field-of-view for quick target pick-up.