My neighbor shot a coyote early one morning who had obviously spent the night in a large patch of foxtail cane in our front yard. Betsy decided to cut the cane patch back (which is why I’m nursing a couple of broken ribs) to discourage such varmint lodging in the future. She found several trails, nests, and bedding spots, so maybe the one Jim shot hadn’t been the only regular visitor. It does explain why we haven’t been able to keep housecats very long these past few years.

I used to hunt such predators on a regular basis, and got quite proficient with a crippled rabbit call. I skinned a couple of red foxes for bedside rugs, and there’s a bobcat in the freezer awaiting mounting right now. I quit predator hunting with a call one dusk when a great horned owl nearly scalped me, obviously mistaking the moonlit glint of my unlit headlight for the crippled rabbit he had been hearing crying. A sixth sense warned me to duck just in time, and when I clicked the light on and looked up, the owl was coming back for another try.

Few people know that owl is white meat, just like chicken and hawk.

At any rate, I have little personal experience in call hunting for coyotes, though Adam and the Jakes and my neighbor Jim and his boys do it a lot. From what they say, it doesn’t take the coyotes very long to get rabbit-call shy, once they get to associate that sound with the sound of gunshots.

Several nearby catfish farmers say that coyotes have learned to associate the sound of the pond paddlewheel agitators with suppertime. When the oxygen content of the pond gets low, the agitators start going, and often the fish will initially congregate close by the agitator float itself, to get some fresh air, as it were.

Ever quick to adapt, the coyotes have observed and taken advantage. I heard about that, so asked a catfish farming friend, who confirmed it.

“Right at dusk, the coyotes come out of the nearby fields and go right to the paddlewheel, where usually the fish are swimming bunched up, on top of the water. It’s hard to believe, but those dog-gone coyotes will hit the water just like a pure-bred Labrador! They’ll swim out and grab a fish, swim back, lay it on the bank, shake like a dog, then pick up their fish and trot back to the fields. If it wasn’t for the fact that they’re taking MY fish, it would be fascinating to watch! You want to shoot a few this evening?”

A veteran predator hunter told me of a method he adapted for his own hunting. A friend had a herd of goats outside of town, and testified that every evening several coyotes would come to the pen and cruise the outside of the fence, just in case they might find a goat that had strayed outside the pen. George drove down there to watch one evening himself, then went to work on an extra predator call. Soon he had perfected a goat call.

The next evening, he parked under a tree on a ditchbank not far from the goat pen. He set up his chair and spotlight, loaded his rifle, and got out his trusty goat call. It only took a few toots on the goat call before four coyotes trotted right up for supper, almost tame, it seemed, until he plated one. He took care of several more the next few nights, until the coyotes adapted to associate the sound of gunshots with the sound of goats.

Having had the experience we have had with the coyotes eating our cats, I’d be willing to bet that if a fellow worked on his goat call to get it to sound like a meow, he’d be sure death on coyotes, until they figured out they were hearing armed cats.

Adam and the Jakes took some kittens out one night to the woods, and got shots at several coyotes, just by picking up the kittens and encouraging them to mew loudly. The same thing will work with small puppies, when they are taken away from their mamas for a couple of hours in a dark, strange place, and begin to whine and howl. I’ve done that, and it brings coyotes up even in the daylight.

Betsy and I were turkey hunting one day, backed up against a tree shoulder to shoulder, she with the gun. In the dry leaves I heard something coming to my call – a turkey, I of course assumed. It came up behind us, and when it sounded too close, I turned my head just as a female coyote, in the puppy-nursing stage, trotted around the tree. She was so close, I could even tell she had bad breath! She probably didn’t stalk turkey hen calling for a few days after that, either.

One last tip for coyote hunting: when your lady Labrador comes into heat, try taking her out and sitting at the edge of the woods for a couple hours. But be ready to shoot quick! Coyotes in love are faster than hungry coyotes!

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