By: Troy Hoepker
My partner’s Foxpro was on its second series of mournful rabbit distress calls, playing loudly to reach the ears of a coyote we hoped was home in this section full of CRP grasses and a wooded creek bed. We sat in a snow-covered terrace waiting patiently for an arrival, when a lone howl interrupted our distress sounds from a ¼ mile away to the South! We had a coyotes’ attention, but it was going to need some coaxing. I grabbed my howler and put out a semi-deep, semi-long howl. Quickly after I ended the long note, I included a few sharp barks! I put the call down and moved my gun and it’s bipod to point directly to the area that was just shy of my downwind, and waited.
Within a few minutes, a coyote loped quickly over the rise to peer in for a look directly downrange of the muzzle of my gun and almost downwind. As I peered through the scope at her, I couldn’t help but notice how pronounced her guard hairs stood at full attention on her back. She had come, not for a meal, but to defend her territory. She received more of a fight than she wanted though, with a 50grain pill from my .223 instead. Perfection! They most certainly don’t always come in so smoothly, but we had pulled this coyote in on a string!
Later, my partner and I both teasingly poked at each other about who’s calling had indeed brought that coyote to us. His distress sounds or my howl? Both served a purpose in this successful hunt. Without the distress, we may have never heard her interrogation howl. When she announced that she was in the area and it was her area, I knew that if she heard another defiant coyote, it could certainly bring her to us in a hurry! It was 3:30 in the afternoon and she may have been reluctant to leave the safety of cover the wooded creek bed provided, to come across open ground and investigate our distress sounds. However, she did want to know who was shopping at the grocery store in her territory. Hence, the interrogation howl she sang out. She may have very well came to the distress if she had not heard a response too, we’ll never know, but what she was listening for specifically was for the response of another coyote. Upon hearing something like that, she would come directly and probably show up to the downwind side.
Using a mouth call can benefit a caller in so many ways. With this story, I was able to quickly grab a howler and give the specific response tailor made for the situation. When selecting a mouth call for coyote vocalizations, look for a call with an open reed. The versatility of an open reed call gives a caller the ability to change pitch like a coyote does with its sound. Many open reed howlers have a wide tone board and maybe a longer bell. With some howlers on the market, the mouthpiece will separate from the bell. I use a Dan Thompson “Red Desert Howler” quite a bit, and with practice, have found it to be a very good howler capable of making many of the sounds coyotes use routinely. With just the mouthpiece, one can switch from coyote sounds to distress easily.