Hunting Winter Coyotes

By Justin Merrill

In the event you do venture out to howl in a coyote this January or February be prepared to sit at least an hour or longer. Dress for the occasion. Pick your spot carefully.

Contrary to what some people believe, coyotes are extremely social animals. Anyone that spends over 460 hours a year in the woods most likely have heard the coyotes extensive vocabulary. I’ve heard two coyote within fifty yards of me talking back and forth. I heard an unexplained screeching or squeaking sound. It wasn’t anything I’ve ever heard. To hear these faint sounds made by a coyote you need to be extremely close. I heard these strange vocalizations in the month of October. It was still three months away from the coyote mating season. They are social at anytime of the year.
Typically here in Maine during the months of December and January coyote seek hard for a companion. They will mate by February. It’s quite possible that the two coyotes walking by my deer blind in October were a mating pair that hooked up early. I first heard a few contact calls coming from the nearby wetland moments before hearing a couple greeting howls. A short while later the two coyotes were walking behind me making those strange squeaking sounds. Those sounds were sort of like puppy whimpers that were slightly on the squeaky side. Maybe it was a dominant coyote traveling with an adolescent. That might have been the case since it was early for mate seeking.
January through to the beginning of March the coyotes will be either still seeking for a mate to reproduce or they have already succeeded. If all goes well the monogamous pair will be parents either in late April or sometime in May. Some mating pairs are greeting new puppies in early June. It all depends on how early the coyotes pair up to mate in the winter months. The female coyote’s gestation typically lasts about two months. What does all this information mean to a predator hunter in January? Quite simple, really! It’s time to howl in those coyotes! January is prime time for breaking out coyote social vocalizations.
Get out there really early in the day to either use a mouth call or an electronic caller to sound the contact/greeting howl. Be at ready position for a coyote could pop-up from anywhere at a moments notice. It’s that time of year that coyotes are seeking for that companionship. A coyote could rush in thinking it’s their mate that went off to hunt. They might come in to your howls for the fact they could be lonely. Quite possibly one of the mating pair died and the survivor comes in seeking out a new companion. There’s a number of reasons a coyote will show up after you howl.
In the event you do venture out to howl in a coyote this January or February be prepared to sit at least an hour or longer. Dress for the occasion. Pick your spot carefully. Do not sit facing the wind or with the wind at your back. A location with a high vantage point with a crosswind is ideal. You need to be ready to shoot downwind immediately after a calling sequence. The high vantage point will allow you to spot an approaching coyote circling to the downwind side with the possibility of being able to shoot before it sniffs you out.
In my deer hunting area the coyote population has gotten ridiculous. It hasn’t been this bad for several years. I’m guessing all of Maine could use a coyote population reduction. Let’s all do our part this winter to try our best at hanging a few pesky coyote on the skinning pole. Find out when the fur buyers meet in your neck of the woods and make plans to go. You could get anywhere from $40 to $60 dollars for each coyote pelt. Dino International Furs is located in South Portland, Maine. There are others like Northeast Hide & Fur Corporation and Black Sheep Trading Company. Find your local fur dealers and make a little extra money this winter doing what you love – HUNTING!

Justin is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association (NEOWA) and has authored two books. He is the owner of the digital TV show, “Spikes and Gills”. Learn more by visiting www.WildMaineOutdoors.com.

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