Make a Coyote do the Turkey Trot

By Gary Lewis

Gary Lewis Books and DVDs

We were hunting turkey, but something must have been eating the birds in our corner of the Ochocos. By mid-afternoon, our prospects looked bleak. That is until a hungry coyote came in at a trot.

When you imitate a prey species, in the hopes of calling in another of that species, you may attract the attention of a predator. With turkeys now in every Oregon county, cougar, bobcat, fox and coyote have all developed a taste for gobbling the big birds. 

Most hunters wave their hands or stand up when a predator comes to the call. Often that is all that is needed to put the animal to flight. A turkey hunter, however, may take advantage of the opportunity to bag a coyote. The season is open year-round and no special tag is required beyond a hunting license.

But I wasn't thinking about that in mid-afternoon. When Mike stopped to make some yelps on his box call, I dropped to one knee to rest my feet. I saw Mike freeze and heard him whisper under his breath, "There's a coyote."

The coyote seemed to pay no attention to our turkey sounds. It hunted, zig-zagging up the hill through the pines and junipers. We watched. It would turn and go one way, then turn again, zig-zagging closer every second turn, pouncing at imaginary mice. This coyote had tasted turkey before, and it knew enough to feign nonchalance as it worked in close enough for the kill. It was coming to our call.

Mike lay down, still calling, and I pulled the facemask over my nose and snugged the shotgun against my shoulder. 

Closing in, the dog threw off all pretense of disinterest and headed straight for us. I put my cheek against the wood, lined up the bead and felt the recoil against my shoulder. My load of No. 6s was sufficient at 30 yards.

Wherever you can find turkeys you can find the critters that eat them. When you make your turkey sets, keep the wind in your face and a partner watching your back. Call for at least 15 minutes at a set, regardless of whether or not you're getting an answer from a gobbler. Toms and the predators that hunt them often come in silent.

Be on the lookout for sharp-toothed predators. Your turkey call might bring a gobbler or a coyote at a trot. Either way, you'll be ready.

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