Coyotes are known as song dogs. After listening to a pack’s group howl, you’ll understand why. The key to coyote calling is understanding the different vocalizations they make, so you can use them to draw the dogs into your range.
Whether you’re using an electronic device with a decoy, or are calling the old-fashioned way with mouth calls, these are the sounds coyote hunters need to learn and put to use.
1. Prey Distress
The prey distress call is arguably your best coyote call sound. Coyotes are omnivores and well-known for their opportunistic feeding, meaning they’ll prey on almost any animal within earshot. They’ll also scavenge inanimate objects if the need arises.
Rabbit distress, whitetail deer, mouse squeaks, and fawn distress calls are some of the most alluring calls you can have in your arsenal. However, most animals will do. The only caveat is the age and recent experience of the coyote (or coyotes) you call.
For example, young, undispersed pups are bold and will readily answer to any distress sounds they hear. Adversely, the older, more experienced coyotes are much more wary of predators. They’ll wait while other pack members scout the area, unseen. That’s why you must wait for at least 30 to 45 minutes after sending out a prey call.
When to Use It:
Prey distress sounds can be used during any season, although it’s best when used during the fall and winter seasons. These seasons give you the advantage of the availability of younger and more brave coyotes. It’s my favorite call to use when predator hunting.
The prey distress call works in the springtime as well. However, spring is the breeding season for coyotes, which is when howling becomes the critical call.
2. Whines and Yelps
Whines and yelps are the natural calls of coyote pups. They’re also your most effective call sounds next to distress calls. Whines and yelps also mimic social interactions and territorial behavior, and they can trigger parental instincts. This is especially true during the denning season when familial bonds are at their strongest.
The coyote whine can communicate pain, hunger, or distress. The yelp most often communicates a submissive or startled response in the event of an attack or unpleasant surprise. Or, in the case of a young pup, distress.
When to Use It:
The best times to use whines and yelps for your coyote calling are the fall and winter when the coyote pups are still undispersed, and their parents are on high alert. Whining and yelping work just as well during the spring and summer seasons, as long as you combine it with other calls.
You’ll also want to diversify the volume and intensity of these calls to mimic both pups and adults to attract a broader range of coyotes.
3. Challenge Howl
The “challenge howl,” also known as the “threat-bark howl,” is meant to fend off intruders. Coyotes don’t challenge other coyotes to fight; they use intimidation to force predators and other packs into submission and then run them out of town.
What makes the challenge howl useful is that it can draw out an entire pack of coyotes when used correctly. All you have to do is locate a pack’s core area. You can do this by paying close attention to their group howls and yips each night, which should allow you to zero in on their location.
Of course, when done hastily and incorrectly, you may end up on overlapping territory. That means a challenge howl can send multiple packs running away from you rather than towards you.
When to Use It:
The challenge howl is useful throughout all seasons. The trick is to learn how to do it correctly. Otherwise, you run the risk of intimidating the pack into hiding.
4. Group and Solo Howls
Coyotes howl for a variety of reasons. Each howl consists of specific information about the singing coyote. Their age, sex, size, and emotional state can all be interpreted by their quivering cries and yips.
The solo howl is how they communicate with their packmates and other coyotes in the area to establish their territory. During springtime, the solo howl is also used to call out for potential mates.
The group howls are performed by the alpha males, with short howls from the betas and intercepting yips of the females. This calling sequence is done to bond and create an auditory fence around the pack’s territory, letting other packs in the area know their place.
The key to an effective coyote howl is understanding which is aggressive and which are nonaggressive. A solo, low-frequency, and high-pitched howl will mimic that of a younger beta. This is the nonaggressive howl that will pique their curiosity.
When to Use It:
Solo howls are better for coyote calling, although pair and group howlings can be effective in getting the whole pack out to investigate. They can be used at any time but are most effective in the springtime, which is the mating season.
Your best bet is to mix the solo howl with the prey distress call.
The Best Coyote Calls
It’s important to change up your coyote calling tactics with each season and the type of coyotes you’re hunting. For example, mountain coyotes are used to predators and will be more cautious versus plains coyotes. Matching your call with the appropriate coyote hunting outing is a bit of knowledge, combined with a bit of trial and error.
Your best coyote call will come from scouting the pack, understanding their behavior, and practicing good woodsmanship. Remember, coyotes come out to fend off others, find food, and to mate. Once you learn how to appeal to their needs via calling, you’ll be able to hunt coyote with a much higher success rate.