February 09, 2016
By Mark Kayser
Most would define the narrow opening in the thick river bottom below me as a whitetail funnel. Today it had been redefined. It was currently a coyote funnel and my faux prey decoy was doing its job. Standing at the far edge of the funnel stood a coyote so mesmerized by the decoy that it paid no attention to my form 20 feet up in the twisted trunk of an ancient ash tree.
Calls had lured the coyote into the trap, but the decoy had to seal the deal. After some careful consideration the coyote relaxed and trotted straight at the decoy. As it ducked out of sight behind a tree trunk I came to full draw with my whisper-quiet Mathews No Cam HTR. The coyote stepped out and ground to a halt at 35 yards with full attention on the plastic critter. An instant later it was twitching on its side with a brightly-fletched arrow sticking from it.
Some consider bowhunting coyotes as a stunt. I can't argue that as many of my outings include my fast bow (a Bergara rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor), but when coyote densities swell or I tag out early on another hunt, bowhunting coyotes is a test I never turn down. Without the advantage of bullet distance, you need to use every big game strategy you know and add savvy predator tricks to your game plan. Whitetail wisdom and a coyote-tricky approach could end in a day of fur gathering the primitive way.
Bowhunting Coyotes | Fool Their Ears
If you don't utilize the remote control aspect of your electronic predator caller you may as well call old school by squeaking through a closed fist. The purpose of the remote is to place the call away from your location so the coyote homes in on the sound, not you. It's the perfect diversion and attractor to place a coyote within arrow range. How and where you set that remote up often dictates success.
Begin by spraying down your footwear and outfit with a trusted scent elimination product. Next, determine prevailing winds and set the remote caller upwind from your location. My Johnny Stewart Grim Speaker GS2 remote connects with the caller from 100 yards away, but while bowhunting I rarely want the caller farther than 50 yards from my hide. Leave enough room for the predator to pass downwind between you and the caller.
A favorite strategy of mine when near timber is to sit in a treestand along a wooded edge and place the remote caller in an adjacent, upwind field within bow range. I use my Nikon rangefinder from ground level to ensure the shot is doable. The treestand provides an elevated vantage point and any coyotes will be focused on the sound in the field, not on the wooded edge where you're waiting.
Bowhunting Coyotes | Fool Their Eyes
Your remote-controlled caller may be all that's needed to lure a coyote into Montec range, but why push your luck? Add a decoy to your setup and any incoming coyote will be as transfixed on it like a 6 year old staring at Santa. Prey decoys come in a variety of species including deer fawns, rabbits, birds and even coyotes like the Montana Decoy Kojo coyote. Models that imitate a wounded rabbit, rodent or bird with electronic, jumping stimuli are especially mesmerizing.
Whether using a prey or a coyote lookalike, it needs to be visible. Again, spray down to eliminate scent. Place the decoy in a clear, elevated setting for any approaching coyote to see. Setting it next to your remote caller makes sense to combine calls with a subject.
As the coyote circles for the downwind advantage it may stop to study the excitement. Draw when its attention is diverted away. If it doesn't stop, use a trick of the coyote trade and bark like a dog to stop it. Remember to be at full draw before you bark as the coyote will likely look your way.
Bowhunting Coyotes | Fool Their Nose
You won't find many regulations when it comes to hunting coyotes. Wildlife managers are increasingly becoming aware of their detrimental effect on wildlife, especially deer. That's why it is legal to bait coyotes in many locales. Check your state laws first and if you get the green light, consider a bait for bowhunting coyotes.
You can centrally locate one bait or set up a series to attract coyotes to different corners of a property. How much free time you have dictates how involved you want to get with the stinky project. Meat processors, restaurants and local ranchers can all supply bait for you in the form of leftovers, scraps, and naturally deceased animals. Road kills may also be an option, but again, check for legality.
Pick one or more good locations that give you a downwind area to hide a ground blind or hang a treestand. Do that a week or more in advance. Now add the goodies. It's best to set up a routine so coyotes know that on a certain day and hour there will be fresh snacks. If you vary the visits coyotes could be cautious, especially if you bump them at the bait. A lesson I learned while baiting bears is to get in your stand right after you bait. Hungry animals show up soon after.
Bowhunting coyotes may be addictive or an activity your try in between other pursuits. Regardless, every time you land an arrow in a wily coyote you've outfoxed one of nature's savviest hunters.