When it’s cold, coyotes get hungry. Long about January, blow on a squealing rabbit call, and a coyote won’t waste much time checking out the scene before another predator slides in for the free meal. Or, put a leg-hold trap in the ground and make a dirt-hole set above it. Drop a spoonful of smelly bait and a dab of gland lure down that hole, and that old songdog just can’t resist it.
But it’s May.
The menu for coyotes just went from a sack lunch to a buffet. When fawns start running around, trying to get a coyote to place its foot on top of a trap, presents a much greater challenge than it does during the winter months. Hunting coyotes during the hotter, greener months presents its own challenges, too.
We gathered some information from the archives of GON and learned some brand-new insights on how to kill summertime coyotes when the fawns hit the ground.
Hunting coyotes is one way to remove a few from your hunting property. Although some hunters use night-vision equipment or lights after dark, the below tactics come from hunters who mostly prefer to hunt the first few hours of daylight and the last hour before sunset.
The Decoy Setup: Once fawns hit the ground, they become a top food source for the Georgia coyote. Therefore, using a fawn decoy in conjunction with either mouth or electronic fawn distress calls can be an effective way to hunt coyotes this time of year.
Place your decoy in an area where it can be seen from a distance, like in a field, powerline or on top of a knoll. To add to the decoy set, some hunters will use a motorized weasel pet toy alongside their decoy. Other hunters will thumbtack a piece of toilet paper on the back side of the decoy. The paper will blow in the wind, causing an additional distraction for the coyote. Some hunters will even place a hen decoy in the area simply as another object to draw a coyote’s attention away from the hunter’s setup.
Set up your decoy before daylight, and spray cover scent all around. Remember the closer the coyote gets to your decoy spread, the more of a chance he has to smell a rat. Shoot at your first good opportunity.
Wearing full camo, find a tree with overhanging branches and good cover 60 to 100 yards away from your decoy spread. Spray fox urine on the limbs around you, and give 10 minutes for that smell to disperse downwind, the direction you can expect the coyote to come from nearly every time. When he circles downwind and smells fox pee, there is a great chance he is coming.
You can start with a howl call. If a yote comes in, he may come in causally. After about 10 minutes, start softly with a fawn distress call, increasing your volume over the course of the next 20 to 30 minutes, giving breaks in between. Once you start using distress calls, mostly likely the dog will be approaching on high alert.
African Coyote Hunt: It takes a lot of work, but if you find a dead deer carcass on the road this summer, you can strap it up a tree about 4 feet high. This is the same tactic you see on African big cat hunts, but it works on coyotes, too.
You want to hang the carcass low enough for coyotes to reach it. Try to hunt it just at daylight. Once coyotes know the carcass is in the area, they’re probably going to hang around until they’re done with it. Coyote howls or distress calls will work on this setup.
Hayfields: This is time of year when farmers are cutting their hayfields, hundreds of rats, mice, rabbits and birds find themselves under a bushhog. Since a coyote is an opportunistic critter, it knows that when the smell of freshly cut hay hits the air, a smorgasbord of food is on the ground.
In addition, a coyote likes a clean field. They don’t like to approach an area in tall grass just because they can’t see. A decoy in a freshly cut hayfield can be deadly on a coyote. Utilize a haybale for your blind if you can.
Chicken Houses: Dead chicken pits are coyote magnets. GON ran the story of Glenn Earnest, who killed 700 coyotes in a 6-year span around his Murray County chicken houses.
Glenn uses FOXPRO electronic calls from time to time, but his favorite call is the Les Johnson Ruffidawg Jr. mouth call. Glenn said the best time to use these calls is during the late afternoon and evening.
If you know someone with chicken houses, they may welcome your assistance.
Additional Summer Hunting Tips
• Hunting Multiple Places: If you want to get serious about eliminating some local coyotes, have a milk run of four or five spots you can hit in the morning. These areas need to be at least 1 mile apart. Many coyote hunters won’t hunt a spot longer than 45 minutes to an hour. In the evenings, you’ll have time to hunt about two spots.
• Hunt With A Buddy: This works well to catch any coyote trying to approach from behind your location. One should hunt with a rifle and the other a shotgun. Having one hunter in a ladder or box stand who can see a good ways is a good option.
• Additional Hunting Locales: Coyotes hang around where the does do this time of year. Food plots and deer feeders can be part of a coyote’s daily or nightly routine. These are good areas to set up and call.
Ben Poole, of Social Circle, taught me to trap in April 2014. I went from never putting my hands on a trap to having six traps in the ground in a matter of a month. If you’re brand-new to trapping and want to get into the sport, act now. There’s some supplies you’ll need and some work on the traps that will need to be done before you put them in the ground. Stop here, and go read the following articles: www.gon.com/hunting/save-a-fawn-trap-a-yote and www.gon.com/hunting/coyote-trapping-201.
The reality is that May, June and July are not good months to trap. There’s plenty of food out there for a coyote to eat, and it’s not their breeding season. However, you can trap some, even though you won’t see the success you see in the winter months.
I wanted to learn a few tricks that could help put a coyote or two in your traps during these tougher months, so I asked Ben for his advice. Although he didn’t have any traps in the ground right now, he has successfully trapped during the hot months. As a trapper, Ben had some tips I thought were definitely worth trying.
Switch It Up: One of Ben’s most common trapping sayings is “switch it up.” What he means by that is don’t make every set the same. Play with different styles of sets, and also mix your lures, baits and urines.
“Switching the arrangements around is critical on these coyotes,” said Ben.
Lures: “You don’t want to fool with any gland lures,” said Ben. “That would be like putting out Tinks 69 right now and expecting a buck to come. It just wouldn’t work. The coyotes are not ‘rutting’ right now. That happens in the winter, and that gland lure is magical stuff then.”
Ben still uses lure (not gland lure) on his trapping sets right now. He recommends one from Dunlap Lures called “Hell Fire.” You can purchase it at www.fntpost.com.
“That has quickly become our best-selling lure,” said Mike Martin with F&T Fur Harvesters Trading Post.
F&T’s website says, it’s “a very loud call lure that contains lots of 100 percent uncut skunk essence. This lure has a thick and sticky smear type base that allows it to stay put and to hold up wherever you smear it… it flat out pulls predators to your sets.”
Urines: “All urines work good,” said Ben. “But, in my opinion, the coyotes are not going to respond that much this time of year to coyote urine. They don’t care, they’re not breeding.”
Ben’s urine of choice for the next few months will be fox urine.
“A fox is their prey,” said Ben. “It entices them a little more than coyote urine. A gray fox is more dominant than a red. A gray will kill a red, so try and get the red fox urine. That’s even more down the pecking order.
“That coyote is going to come through there and smell that urine and say, ‘What’s this fox messing around over here for?’”
Scat: Putting strange coyote scat around your set can drive a coyote nuts.
“They are so territorial, and you can tear their butts up with it,” said Ben. “Don’t use scat on a set that you find right there on that property because it’s probably the coyote that’s going to come through there. He’s not interested in smelling his own scat.
“If you have 200 acres, take it to the farthest part of that property you can or another piece of property.”
Ben jokingly, although somewhat seriously, suggested doing a little scat trading amongst buddies.
“If you bring me some Madison (where GON is located) scat, I’ll trade you a bag of Social Circle scat,” he laughed.
The take-home message is to use foreign scat on your sets.
“You can find coyote scat right now,” said Ben. “We’re finding it all over the roads.”
Post Sets: Think about a male dog. He’ll go up and hike his leg and pee all over the place to mark his area. A coyote does the same thing. You just need to lure him to the exact spot where you want him to stand and pee.
“Put a stick in the ground at a 45-degree angle. The tip of that stick needs to be about 10 to 12 inches off the ground,” said Ben.
The old “3 and 9 Rule” applies here. You want the top of that stick 9 inches above and 3 inches to the right or left of where the middle of your trap’s pan will be sitting. This offset positioning should have the foot of a yote stepping directly in the pan as he goes to pee.
Rattlesnakes: “I don’t know why, but you find yourself a rattlesnake and cut that sucker into 4- to 5-inch chunks and put it in your baithole, you’ll catch a coyote,” said Ben.
Ben tried this trick with a black snake one time that he found dead in the road. He cut it up and put it in several dirt holes. He never caught a coyote.
“I don’t know why, but it has to be a rattlesnake,” said Ben.
Animal Parts: This hunting seasons start saving and freezing animal parts for trapping next May, June and July. However, there’s still two weeks of turkey season left, so call your buddies and put them on alert to save their turkey feathers. You can fan them out or stick them down in a bait hole above your trap bed. And under the heading of “switch it up,” try some of these sets with urines and glands and some without. When making a set with feathers, you want to put some sort of a rock, tree or branch backing on them so that the coyote has to approach from the front.
“If you can’t get turkey feathers, go to Walmart to the craft section and get some feathers,” said Ben.
Don’t pass up road-kill.
“Rabbit pieces are good this time of year,” said Ben. “If you get a dead squirrel in the road, hang that squirrel tail out of the hole.
“If you find you a dead deer on the side of the road, you can cut a leg off. Deer antlers are good, too. You can take a deer antler and push it up against a tree with a good backing where he’ll have to grab it from that front.
“And those turkey feet… if you’re going to throw it away you may as well take it, drive a hole in the ground, turn it upside down and jab it in there. He’s going to run by there and pick it up.
“The longer you get to fooling with this stuff, you’ll come up with some out-of-the-box sets that really do work.”
Baits: Baits in a dirt-hole set can work in the summer, although not near as well as during the winter. Ben gives Reuwsaat’s Deep Creek All Predator Paste Bait the thumbs-up. You can also find it at www.fntpost.com.
Create A Coyote Highway: With everything grown up this time of year, bush-hogging a single, narrow lane—even if it’s just cutting a strip down a hunting club road—will draw coyotes.
“They like to see where they’re walking, plus that bushhog will kill rats and mice. A coyote knows that. You can cut a lane today, and a coyote will walk down it tonight,” said Ben. “Those are great places to put your traps.”
Whether you plan to shoot coyotes or trap them, make sure you have a copy of the May or June issue of GON in your hands. Click here to see how you can win great prizes for helping save a few fawns this month.