The Hard Truth About Calling Coyotes

Just the other day, I was having breakfast with one of my summer golfing buddies and he was asking me what I was going to do for fun when bow season closed at the end of the year.

“I’ll hunt squirrels, rabbits and coyotes,” I quickly answered. The rabbits and squirrels did not interest him, but the coyotes did. “Can I go with you when you call coyotes?” he asked. “It would really be cool to shoot a couple.” I just started laughing.

Lack of numbers of coyotes and hunting pressure has made it difficult for Midwest coyote hunters.

“Tim,” I said, “calling coyotes is not a high percentage deal. Most of the time when I go out for a morning or evening of calling, I don’t even see one.”

“Why is that,” Tim wanted to know. So I told him.

Most importantly in much of the Midwest and East, we just do not have the numbers of coyotes you need to have for really good calling success. Try as hard as you might, to call from the best locations, the truth is that in our part of the country you will be doing your best to attract a coyote to the call, when there is not even a coyote close enough to hear your call. That is one of the biggest differences between calling here and calling in the Western states. Out West, you can plop down just about anywhere and know that there will be at least one coyote within hearing range of your call.

Another important factor is hunting pressure. In our well-populated part of the country, coyote hunting has become a popular winter diversion. Some hunters call, some run hounds, others prefer to hunt in groups and drive coyotes. The method means nothing to a coyote, pressure is pressure in his eyes and a pressured coyote is one tough critter to call.

When I do predator calling seminars around the country, I am always amazed at how most of the questions from the audience have to do with what brand of call is best and what is the perfect rifle, scope and caliber for the coyote caller.

The cold hard facts are that the call you use and even how you use it, will not matter a lick if you have run the coyotes off just getting into position to call. Which, of course, makes the ultimate coyote rig nothing but extra weight.

The author says his success rate for coyotes is one in every eight calling sessions.

It’s not enough to simply know that coyotes do indeed live in the area you are calling if coyotes see you, hear you or smell you while you are getting into position.

Bottom line? I have averaged about one coyote called in for every eight sets I make for the past 20 years. And when I ask other serious callers about their success rate, it will vary from one out of six to one for every dozen sets, sometimes higher.

So with success rates that low, why even stick with it, hunters often ask. For me, it is because when I do get a coyote to come sneaking or sometimes even rushing to the call, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It’s a rush and that keeps me coming back for more.

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Gary Clancy writes a column for Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.

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6 Responses to “The Hard Truth About Calling Coyotes”

  1. Avatar


    its true. one night i was calling coyotes for about an hour, and i ended up heading back to the truck, and headed down the road, and seen 4 of em cross right in front of me. thats why i always have different “stands” to go to. it seems like when you do see em, ya aint got a rifle, or its in the city limits.

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    Troy Gillespie

    Coyote calling is a tricky little experience what can work big time or flop in no time and pose danger to hunter. As a outdoorsmen, I prefer to go coyote hunting at night because it holds a decisive factor. However, not dark let fool you because coyotes are still a deadly predator to be careful of. One night, I encountered three coyotes but I was out of comfort zone and got struck in between. Luckily, had my friends for backup and we were able to fright them off.

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    Michael L. Jones

    My brother and I set up a fawn decoy with the caller set on a “fawn in distress”. After several minutes, the biggest most beautiful Bobcat that I have ever saw in my life charged our decoy. It was illegal to shoot him and I just enjoyed watching him tear up the decoy. After he realized that “this thing that he had ahold of” probably didn’t taste so good so he just trotted off. What an experience. Just like coyote hunting. We just happend to be in the right place at the right time. I have found that the best way to “bag” a coyote is patience, patience, patience !!!!!


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    D Grantz

    Gary is so right Yotes are very smart and hard to get one to come to a call, baiting helps if allowed in your state forsure. thank you for the info. Gary.

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    William Chatterson

    It’s not so easy in the west anymore either. I work and hunt in western North Dakota and hardly ever have one come in. You can locate them the night before and it might sound like a pack of 40 but when I hit the stand I see mostly nothing.

  6. Avatar


    I like how this William guy thinks ND, is the “west”. lol