Outdoors column: Coyotes during the night

We are now entering the best time of the winter months to pursue coyotes and foxes as these predators are now very active and easy to harvest especially during the full moon periods of March and April.

Knowing the lay of the land is critical during the daylight hours allowing you to be more knowledgeable and smart when you return for the midnight predator hunt. Submitted photo

Knowing the lay of the land is critical during the daylight hours allowing you to be more knowledgeable and smart when you return for the midnight predator hunt. Submitted photo

There are some tricks and tactics necessary to increase your odds and many novices tend to make basic mistakes during these middle of the night hunts.

Here are some tips that have helped me in the past and have taken years to learn.

Learn the lay of the land

Never enter a property during the middle of the night and in darkness expecting to ambush any predator.

These smart animals have keen awareness and if you alert them to your presence, they will vanish. Always make it a point to tour the landscape during daylight hours and check out the best calling spots and find the best entrance to the property that will conceal your presence. Make a mental note of these facts and use them when you return during the full moon period.

Alert the landowners

I always make it a point to let the landowners know when I will be hunting, especially during the middle of the night calling hunts. Many times the local law enforcement people will check me out as somebody made a call during the night. Let them know the hours during the night you will be hunting and where you will be parking. This will avoid a lot of hassles especially when you are trying to be quiet and stealthy.

Weather critical

If you happen to hit the weather conditions perfectly you can have an outstanding night calling and harvesting coyotes and fox. I look for the time when the moon rises and falls and make a note of the conditions such as cloudy or clear. What you are looking for is clear and a rising moon.

The proper conditions allows you to see through your rifle scope just like it was noon. Hunting at night with cloudy or overcast skies is frustrating. Pick and choose the best times either side of the peak of the full moon for best succcess.

Pick an open shooting lane

Once you spend a night or two calling and hunting coyotes you will learn the best spots to be calling from that allow you a full field of area that is open giving you the most time to make the shot. Predators have no problem crossing an open field during the night. You want to be positioned on a steep rise or hill with a clear field of vision. Stay clear of any vegetation behind you as they often can sneak in behind you and many times you never knew they were there.

Watch those truck headlights

The biggest mistake on these types of hunts is advertising your presence.

Always stop well short of your property and walk the remaining distance.

Nothing spooks critters more than truck headlights pointed into their cover as they will know instantly something isn’t right. The idea is to enter the property as quiet and stealthy as possible giving you the best chance to ambush them before they know the score.

If you make the entrance correctly you will often get those critters in for a shot almost on the first series of calls then you know you are a successful predator hunter.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

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