Who said coyotes never sneak in from the back side.

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Predator calling is one sport that can turn a gloomy winter day into a lifetime memory. A face-to-face encounter with a predator may be a thrill of a life-time that will no doubt increase the heart-rate of any person with an approaching coyote!

For centuries man has imitated sounds to attract game. The coyote is one game animal that will challenge the persistence and patience of any hunter. Wild animal calling, allows us to discover more about our partners on this earth.

One day a feather fell from the sky

An eagle saw it fall

A deer heard it fall

And a bear later smelled it

But only the coyote saw, heard and smelled that feather all at the same time. Coyotes can locate the direction of a sound to within one degree at any distance from which the coyote can hear it. For example, at one mile, the coyote knows where the sound is coming from to within 90 feet. At 100 yards, a coyote can pinpoint the sound to within five feet. Animals react to and fear movement. Remain as motionless as possible while attempting to call coyotes.

Few other critters are blessed with better senses than 'Ol Wily coyote.

What kind of equipment will be needed to hunt these predators? Remember the KISS principle Keep It Simple Sam, you will only need a predator call, firearm, and binoculars. Many people swear by camouflage clothing, but the most important factor in predator calling is blending in with your background.

Most predator calls are mouth operated, small, easy to carry, and are designed to simulate an animal in distress. The open reed calls are the most versatile, allowing changes in pitch and sounds. Experiment with these different calls and find the one that works best for you.

The first step to predator calling is to choose the right spot. You must know the behavior, habits, and distribution of the animal you wish to call. Most coyotes will range over areas of 10-25 square miles. Coyotes breed in February and have one litter of 5-7 young in April or May. It is the young coyotes which will make up most of the hunters bag in the fall and winter.

Predators are most active at night and their daytime activity confined to the hours near sunrise or sunset. Winds over 10-15 miles per hour greatly reduce your calling success, most callers prefer to call with the wind blowing in their face - upwind. Others prefer to call downwind - with the wind to their backs. How far the call can be heard depends on the terrain, wind, and weather conditions. Fortunately, predators can be called in any type of weather and any time of the day. There is no use calling in an area unless the animals are using it, fresh tracks are the best sign. The best places to look for sign are along livestock or vehicle trails and field edges, also near water or stock dams. Wherever you have rodent or prey populations you will find predator sign.

During the winter season, snow cover greatly enhances tracking of the predators. Locate your animals first and make sure you have an audience. Always obtain permission before entering private land. Ask the farmer or rancher about predator sightings and check out these areas. Typical calling sites would be below a ridge line, under or in front of a small trees or brush, haystacks or bale piles can also be used. In your view will be brush, trees, water, and food. These are places predators will feed, hide, play, and rest. Slip into your calling area quietly, don't slam car doors, make certain the spot allows a place to hide your vehicle, and approach without being seen.

Stay off the skyline as much as possible. Animals are more afraid of an erect or standing body form, than a hunched over or crawling body form.

Background brush, vegetation, or trees break up your outline and help cover you and your movements. It is best to call with the sun to your back. Sit in front of an object rather than behind it. Sitting behind it only obstructs your movements and your view.

Use shadows for your advantage

Not for the predators advantage

Look over your calling area before you begin the actual call, in most cases, the predators will approach on the easiest and straightest path. The calling sound is not that critical to predators, there are an infinite number of noises that arouse their curiosity and hunger.

Calling should begin softly, you may be closer to the predator than you think. The pattern should be a series of 12-15 long or short distress cries, lasting for 30 seconds, followed by a one minute pause, after the first two series, if no predators are spotted, increase the volume on the remaining series for maximum range. Repeat this alternate calling and waiting process for about 15 minutes. Constantly scan the calling area for the approaching predator. Listen for noises and watch for suspicious movement of other animals (birds flushing or livestock running).

Be alert at all times, this is one sport where the hunter becomes the hunted.

As soon as a predator is spotted, calling should cease and not resume as long as it continues to approach. If the predator stops or hesitates, tease it with a few short, soft cries with the call or lip squeaks. Animals react to and fear movement, remain as motionless as possible while calling. Most predators tend to circle and approach from downwind of the caller, attempting to smell any strange odors. Some people use skunk essence to cover human odor. Let the predator approach within 100 yards, then attempt to stop them predator, to get a more successful standing shot. After you shoot at a coyote whether it was a connecting shot or a miss, stay at your calling stand and continue calling. I have had many cases, where I have called in other coyotes after shots had already been fired. You can start your calling with the pup distress and later try the rabbit distress again. If nothing is spotted after another 5-8 minutes you can move to another stand. Most callers will move a distance of at least a half mile to a mile to their next calling stand.

Predators can normally be stopped by a simple squeak of your lips, whistle, or bolt slam then fire your shot. If the animal goes down and then makes any attempt to get up, shoot again, the extra hole can be sewed up later, rather than having the predator run off. If you miss, don't attempt the running shot, the predator will run off a distance (200-300 yards). Then look back to see what happened to that tasty rabbit. Be ready to shoot during this pause. At these longer distances you must know how your gun will shoot. When you are shooting at different angles in hilly or river-break country, a good reminder is to always hold low when shooting either uphill or downhill.

Some people can call coyotes and others can shoot coyotes, the man who can do both is a real "pro", he must know his prey, call clearly and shoot accurately to take home the fur.

Most callers see only 50 per cent of the animals they call in, and of these, only 50 per cent are taken home. Many callers prefer to hunt as a team or two callers. We used a pair of 2-way headset radios that were voice activated for talking to each other while calling. This allows the callers to separate from each other and cover or watch the calling area better.

Remember the 3P's of predator calling - Practice, Patience, and Persistence. A person needs to learn and practice making various sounds or vocalizations with your calls. I even use my own voice for howling. Give it a try, you won't believe how much further this sound carries over howls from an open reed type call. Be patient at each calling stand, I normally stay at each calling stand for only 15 minutes. Over the years, with the majority of the coyotes that I have called in - most were shot within the first 8-10 minutes at each stand. In South Dakota, I mainly called the open prairies with river break and rolling hills. It is much easier to spot the on-coming coyotes in these situations. I feel uncomfortable in forested situations or other heavy cover situations with limited visibility. I like to see the predators coming at a distance. I still have the surprise approaches from the unspotted coyotes or cases with multiple coyotes have come into a calling stand and in some cases coming in from different directions. Be persistent and don't give up if you are not successful. Predator calling is much like fishing, sometimes they bite and sometimes they don't.

The use of various howls is important in territoriality with the coyotes. A howl may sound the alarm that another coyote has invaded another coyotes territory and most coyotes will come silently, without howling back to check out their invader. In some cases, I have spotted the aggressive coyotes approaching my calling stand in the first few minutes. I generally voice howl with a lone howl, pause and then a couple of barks with a howl, pause again and I end up with another lone howl. After a two minute listening and watching period, I howl again with my open reed call using limited barks with lone howls. If nothing is spotted in the next few minutes, I start with the rabbit distress with my call for 30 seconds - pause for a minute, repeating this calling and pausing sequence. Most people would be surprised to know how many times they called in a coyote, but just didn't see the critter. Most coyotes will approach the caller from the downwind direction and if they scent or spot the caller, they will depart unnoticed.

Wear camouflage clothing and make sure your gun is camouflaged. Predators have keen eyesight and any reflective surfaces such as your face or gleaming metal from your gun can indicate danger. Situate yourself on a high point or in an area with good visibility. I prefer to call downhill from the top side rather than calling uphill. Predators often approach through low lying areas and from downwind side of the caller to scent-check the area. Wait quietly for a few minutes before starting the call. This allows the area to settle down, along with animals you may have spooked when approaching the calling area. You can also scan the calling area for possible predators with your eyes or a pair of binoculars.

Use predator calls or sounds such as the dying rabbit in distress or rodent squekers. In areas where predator calling is popular, use calls not often imitated such as deer in distress bleats, bird screeches, and canine distress calls.

Open-reed calls have it for ultimate volume and range. On a quiet night, line of sight, a coyote howl can be heard for a distance of 2-3 miles by the human ear with normal hearing. The coyotes can hear far better than humans. Calls can also be quieted down to very soft whimpers by muffling with the hands and using low pressure blowing. Such calls will make teaser mouse squeaks, low or high-volume rabbit squalls, and a sound variety from puppy whines, fawn bleats, doe bawls, etc. at an instant with no change in calls or reeds.  With this variety of sounds, you will add scores of predators to your bag.

These animals have been and will be with us for a long time. The more we learn about them, will make us a better hunter and a better person. Any way you look at it, predator calling is challenging, fun, and often profitable.

Instruction sheets for such open reed calls would be extremely difficult to write up, since everyone blows these calls differently. I have had call buyers testing and blowing various calls and it is amazing the difference in sounds and methods other people use in blowing the calls. I feel that everyone blows the calls differently and each person varies how they place and slide the call in the mouth or through their lips. I use a polyester reed material that is almost indestructible. It lasts much longer than any other reed material that I have used. It takes a lot of blowing, testing, sanding, and fine tuning with each call until I am satisfied, but as I mentioned it still seems that each person blows the calls differently than I do. Even the sounds produced by experienced callers vary with their howls and rabbit distress cries.

To hear the unique sounds from a Dakota Coyote Howler open reed call, click your mouse on the following pics. When you click on each pic, you will need to save the file and then you will be prompted to open an audio program on your computer such as QuickTime Player or RealPlayer, etc. to listen to the following sound files:

You can also click on the following links to hear the unique sounds made with the Dakota Jack Bite Reed call:

Rabbit distress cries.

Coyote distress or kiyi's.

Raccoon Chatter.

Most of the open-reed calls on the market today can all be blown in a similar fashion. Hold the call with the reed side up and place the call into your mouth, with the upper teeth and lips resting on the reed up toward the rubber rings. The barrel end of the call is pointed away from the mouth. The call will be easier to blow if you place your upper teeth against the reed as you blow into the call.

Cup your hand(s) over the barrel end of the call, this will allow you to control or mute the sounds you create. Blowing the call with air from your chest, will cause the reed to vibrate and makes the sounds. Start with the hand closed over the barrel end and force the air into call, saying wwaaa, wwaaa, wwaaa, wwaaa, while opening and closing the hand(s) as you blow into the call. Each squall or breath should be distinct while blowing the call. Imagine you're the rabbit that has been struck by an owl or an eagle. Produce various screams of hurt and pain to entice the oncoming coyote.

Pull the call out of your mouth with teeth/lips against reed, while forcing air into the call, you will be able to produce higher pitched sounds or cries. With your teeth/lips against reed up toward the rubber rings, you will be able to produce lower pitched sounds. You can blow the call while sliding your teeth/lips forward or backward over the reed area of the call.

By pulling the call forward or backward with your teeth/lips against reed and forcing air into the call, you will be able to produce various sounds or cries. When positioned up toward the rubber rings, you will be able to produce lower pitched sounds and out toward the reeds end you can produce higher pitched sounds. Blowing harder or softer will change the tempo of the sound you produce. You should also use alternate short periods of blowing and not blowing air through the call. If you wiggle your teeth/lips or the call, you can produce a wavering type of sound. Practice makes perfect and you will soon learn how to make the various sounds for calling many animals.

You should also take a look at the following link for the coyote estrus chips, you can make these sounds with my bite reed and open reed calls. Give the estrus chirps a try with your next coyote stands. These sounds are made using 4-5 quick huffs from your diaphragm. They sound like some short barks.

Remember the sounds that you hear from the various animals when you are in the country such as the coyote howls or rabbit distress cries and learn how to mimic these sounds your self. Take advice from other callers and listen to various calling sound recordings on the WEB such as Varmint Al's Coyote Hunting Page.

Always be respectful of other people's property and ideas. Enjoy, respect, and tell others about the good things found in the outdoors.

If you have any comments or need further information, send me an E-MAIL by clicking on the following link:

mail to:rattler51@pie.midco.net