Hunting coyotes during breeding season
When hunting any species, the breeding season can offer the most exciting action. In the Carolinas, going after grunting bucks during the rut and stalking gobbling turkeys during the spring breeding season are highly productive tactics. Thoughts of such hunts typically stick out as our top hunting memories. But many folks don’t realize coyotes begin breeding in January and can continue through the end of February and on into March during some years.
One reason that breeding season is such a good time to hunt any animal is that mating instincts lead to even the biggest and most mature animals of any species to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of passing along their genes. This recklessness often leads to higher game sightings and harvest numbers for hunters. As mentioned earlier, we see it most prominently in deer and turkeys. But seasoned coyote hunters see it while hunting these canines this time of year too.
Find the right approach
The approach to hunting during the coyote mating season is much like springtime turkey hunting in my opinion. Female sounds lure in the males, and also attract competitive females courting those same males. These males travel long distances looking for females ready to mate. And it is not uncommon to see male after male traveling through active breeding areas looking for females.
Luring these males into shooting range is quite easy this time of year. Whines, whimpers, estrus chirps, and breeding sounds produced at low volume will grab the attention of male coyotes. Slightly louder calls that reproduce courting rituals are also effective. And coyote fights will beckon the attention of dominant animals wondering what is taking place in their territory.
Think of calling to coyotes as telling a story. It’s more than a few random noises. Tell a story with your call sequence and you’ll have those curious coyotes coming in for a closer look.
Stay on stand longer this time of year
Throughout most of the year, coyote hunting is most productive when hunters hit as many areas as possible to find the most active one. Staying on the move is essential. But during mating season, I stay on active stands much longer. Males travel much more during breeding season. So waiting an hour may bring you another group of searching males.
I often see males from all directions traveling through good areas. Areas allowing you to see long distances are great stands to spend extra time watching for those traveling males. They venture much farther this time of year. So lengthen those stands by double, and watch your numbers of sightings and harvests go up.
When a coyote responds to your sounds with barking or a combination of howling and barking, he/she is challenging your location. Have a list of challenges prepared for the battle. Match their tone so as not to intimidate your opponent. But keep up the challenge as long as he/she responds.
Answer barks with barks, and sometimes throw in a breeding sound to break that coyote from its location. Sometimes, these vocal challenges can last for quite some time before that coyote commits to your location. But it can lead to some of the greatest coyote encounters you’ll ever experience. It’s worth the time, so be up to the challenge.
Patience is essential during breeding season
Unlike the rest of the year, patience is a coyote hunter’s best virtue during the breeding season. Often, I see coyotes a long ways off. During other times of the year, I would make a move toward them. But during mating season, I let those traveling males know where I am. And I let them work toward me.
Keep your eyes peeled, even in directions you aren’t hearing calls come from. Subordinate males will try to sneak in unnoticed so as not to draw the attention of dominant coyotes they have caught wind of during territory disputes. They often analyze the situation before blindly running into a call. Pack some extra patience in your arsenal and your stacks will increase.
Another breeding season bonus is doubling up. Often this time of year, if you drop a coyote, you are more likely to take multiples, even if not on the same day. Follow-up hunts will produce on the partner of a fallen coyote as they often search the area days after. Go back to those areas where you took a single out of a pair, and you’ll put up better numbers by doubling up.
Right now is one of the best times of the year to hunt coyotes. The next best time will be in September when pups are exiting from their dens. So get out there now and experience the coyote rut.