John's Journal...

How to Take Coyotes and Other Predators

What I’ve Learned Hunting in February with Al Morris

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Al Morris of Springville, Utah, one of the nation’s leading competitive predator hunters, has hunted coyotes for most of his life and has placed high in the World Predator Calling Competition every year. We asked Morris to tell us how to take coyotes in February.

Question: What have you learned from hunting in February?
Morris: In cold weather, Hunter’s Specialties’ Preymaster offers some real advantages. I love to use mouth calls, but during cold weather, sucking in a lot of cold air and blowing it out isn’t nearly as much fun as turning a switch on and off. Like Gerald Stewart, another Hunter’s Specialties’ pro, I like to mix sounds. This year, I’ve found that using the high-pitched cottontail as my prey sound and the pup-in-distress for my dog sound is quite effective. I’ve discovered that the coyote-pup-in-distress call sounds are very like the sounds a female coyote makes when two male coyotes are harassing her and trying to breed her. I’ve learned that using the coyote pup in distress and howling with the Mac DaClick to enlargeddy Howler and the CYC1 really seems to turn-on the coyotes. If the coyotes aren’t coming to the dog sounds, they’ll come to that cottontail-in-distress sound.

Question: Tell me about your last hunt.
Morris: We were in Colorado, and I’d taken a coyote at 10:00 am using the high-pitched cottontail-in-distress sound. I decided to go back to this same stand right before dark. Once again, I threw in that immature cottontail sound, and I had two immature coyotes come running off the top of a hill. The coyotes came in from my hard left so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to move to get my gun on them. My cameraman did a good job of photographing the coyotes coming in, but I didn’t do a good job of getting my gun on the coyotes before they came in, saw us, spooked and took off running. I changed the Preymaster from the rabbit-in-distress to the coyote-pup-in-distress call. There was a big dominant male on the ridge behind us howling, but he couldn’t see us. When he heard that pup in distress, he came running off the hill. Within 13 seconds, that big male coyote was 30 yards in front of us, and I tipped him over. Remember, if a coyote comes in, sees you and spooks, don’t automatically assume that your hunt is over, because many times, there are more than one coyote coming to your call. You can be patient and often change calls to get a second chance. Click to enlarge

Question: Al, what gun are you shooting?
Morris: This year, I started using the Thompson/Center Pro Hunter .204 Ruger Caliber. This has been a phenomenal caliber for me. I use the new Winchester Xtended Range B-size Coyote Load pellets, and I shoot them with a Benelli Super Black Eagle II with the Johnny Stewart Undertaker Coyote Killer Choke Tube on it. Out to 40 yards, that shotgun with these shells will melt a coyote. Most of the time, when I’m hunting, I’ll take a rifle and a shotgun with me. Often, when I’m competitive hunting, I’ll take a good number of coyotes in thick cover where most coyote hunters won’t hunt, and that’s where the shotgun really can be effective. Traditional coyote hunters like to hunt wide-open spaces where they can see coyotes coming from a long distance. But these areas are usually the ones that have been called to the most. The thick-cover regions where you may only be able to see 40- or 50-yards out get called to the least. So, I usually can find more coyotes that have had less pressure in these sites than any other places I hunt. If I’m not taking coyotes in the wide-open spaces with my rifle, I adjust by moving to the thick areas and using my shotgun. In competitive coyote hunting, I’ve learned that you can take more dogs if you hunt the spots that everyone else isn’t hunting. Remember, when you’re scouting and you find a great-looking spot where you can call to a lot of area and see the dogs coming from a long way off, more than likely, every other coyote hunter that has passed by that same place has thought the same things you have. You can bet that place has been called to several times. But when you drive by an area with a lot of thick cover where most coyote hunters won’t call, you can bet that the dogs in that area haven’t been pressured. Click to enlarge

We all know that the fewer calls a coyote hears, the more likely it is to come to the call. Therefore, if you’re hunting the areas that most hunters won’t hunt, you have an excellent chance for taking coyotes that most other predator callers haven’t called. The less hunting pressure the coyotes feel, the more likely they are to come to your calls. So, don’t be afraid to hunt those trashy places where you don’t have good visibility. Start using your shotgun more in these areas and you’ll increase the number of coyotes you take in a day. Also, try to learn what calls most hunters are using. If most hunters are giving the rabbit-in-distress call, then use bird calls, fawn-in-distress, pup-in-distress or any other sound that most hunters aren’t using. Remember that in most cases, the calls the coyotes have heard the least are the ones to which they’re most likely to respond. This is one reason why I believe that using dog sounds like howls and barks are the most-effective this month. During February, most hunters know the food supply is short, and the dog’s stomach is empty, so prey sounds will be the most effective. However, don’t forget that the coyotes are breeding. They’re protecting their territory, and even though they may have empty bellies, the need to breed and the need to protect their domain will often supersede their need for food. Since most hunters are using prey sounds, barks and howls will generally be the most effective.

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Tomorrow: The Expert’s Squeak with David Hale

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Take Coyotes and Other Predators"

Day 1: Taking Coyotes in February with Al Morris
Day 2: How to Take More Predators with Gerald Stewart
Day 3: Mix Sounds for More Coyotes with Gerald Stewart
Day 4: What I’ve Learned Hunting in February with Al Morris
Day 5: The Expert’s Squeak with David Hale



Entry 391, Day 4