Ranchers and shepherds who are handy with a varmint rifle may find that the key to coyote control is just a “mournful” call away.
Rob Lamont, an avid coyote hunter from Brandon, offered a few tips and insights into the fine art of luring predators within shooting range with a call.
First, find a site where there are lots of coyotes. That could be either a valley, bush or sloughs, a wintering area for cattle or sheep, or a compost pile where deadstock are disposed of.
“Coyotes are where the food is,” said Lamont, former owner of Jo-Brook Firearms in Brandon, at a recent predator control workshop.
Then, sneak into the calling position without making a lot of noise and alerting the coyotes that you’re there. An ideal spot affords a good, clear view of the surrounding terrain while laying down with the rifle at the ready.
“Set yourself up with a light wind in your face or from the side,” he said.
Next, strike up a chorus of the dying rabbit blues with an open or closed reed call. Novices tend to obsess about making the right sound, but Lamont believes that any rendition will suffice, so long as it’s appropriately “mournful.”
How long to blow is the other question. Lamont believes that a few horrifying squeals 30 seconds in duration with a few minutes of silence in between is generally enough. Depending on wind speed, a call will be audible to a coyote for up to a mile away, and if nothing appears after 15 minutes, he moves on to a new spot.
If a couple coyotes come, he tries to draw them in as close as possible. Once they are both in easy range, he shoots the far one first, then tries to convince the near one to stop running and look back with a few squeals on a coyote distress call.
“Often that second coyote stops and gives you a second chance. But you better be ready because he doesn’t stop long,” said Lamont.
Some hunters use a “howler” or “challenge” call to mimic an interloper in coyote territory, followed by a rabbit distress call to lure them in. He prefers blow calls because their sound is unique to each user, unlike electronic calls that repeat a pre-recorded sound that dozens of other hunters might be using in the same area.
Early morning or dusk is the best time to hunt. Very calm days at -35 C are good too, because the coyotes are hungry.
“On Boxing Day last year, my son and I got 11 coyotes,” he said.
Over the past dozen years, Lamont has used a bolt-action, scoped .223 rifle with a bipod firing 40-grain hollowpoint bullets to kill about 400 to 500 coyotes.
The combination of a high-velocity calibre and lightweight bullets means that a chest or brisket shot leaves only a tiny entry hole with no messy exit wound to spoil the fur.
“I shoot most of my coyotes at 100 to 140 yards. It blows up inside and they collapse in a heap,” said Lamont.