I’ve hunted my whole life, but nothing beats the thrill of coyote hunting. Every stand is a new challenge, filled with unpredictable animal behavior and occasional bursts of heart-pounding excitement.
Coyote hunting a trophy.
With every call sent into the wind, there is a question: Will tonight’s coyote be worthy of a taxidermists fee’s.
The idea that I would one day take such a trophy often occurred to me, but like the astronauts who made it to the Moon, a once-in-a-lifetime success can never be repeated.
The black coyote appears.
It all began one day back in early 2019; a stunning black coyote started regularly showing up on my trail cams. Never appearing during the day, but just at night.
Curious, I started collecting and saving the photos. I soon wondered if I could pattern him like deer hunters pattern a trophy buck. So I watched this coyote for over two years, hoping to get a shot at him.
He consistently showed up every 3-4 days and then appeared nightly for the next 2-3 days. Due to the regularity of his visits, I thought it would be easy to harvest this trophy. But, boy, was I wrong!
During this two-year-long pursuit, I used the Predator Tactics Coyote Reaper XXL red/green lights and a pair of 7d NVGs. I used e-calls, gut piles from deer, table scraps, etc., and I still never caught sight of him in my scope’s crosshairs (day or night). But yet, every time I checked my trail cameras, there would be a slew of pictures and videos of him.
A change of coyote hunting tactics and a new goal.
In 2021, I switched to a thermal scope and made it my goal that year to kill this guy. In January, he showed up on camera with a female. I studied their activity together and noticed a new and much more specific pattern. Every single day, the two paired coyotes would come through my property twice a day between 7:20 am and 7:45, and again between 1100 pm and 3:00 am.
Armed with this knowledge, I went out early one morning in February, snuck into my ground blind, set the call about 20 yards from me, and spotted the approach of what turned out to be the female.
Taking the trophy coyote’s mate.
She was a clever girl and no fool when it came to being called. At about 0700, I played rabbit distress for 2-3 minutes, and then I went quiet. She didn’t respond. Next, I played her a constant stream of mouse squeaks. These squeaks caught her attention, and she began to move in closer. Finally, just as I got her in my crosshairs, she decided something was wrong and started to leave.
I quickly muted the call, and she stopped dead in her tracks. Taking advantage of her fatal mistake, I sent a 55-grain VMAX downrange and dropped her where she stood. I played the coyote KiYi on my FoxPro, but her black mate never made an appearance that day.
The next night, the black male came to the exact spot she died at, smelled around for about 10 seconds, and left. I never caught sight of him on my property again.
A new coyote hunting location yields the return of the black trophy.
Eventually, I got permission to hunt an old hog farm next door. I had suspected the black male coyote was inhabiting this area all along, given his previous travel patterns. To confirm my theory, I placed a few trail cameras and waited.
In April, I finally captured a video of him walking around one night. Then, a few nights later, when the weather was right and I could “play” the wind, I went hunting for my old nemesis.
The end game begins.
I began my stand that night with a lone female howl. Within minutes, I caught a glimpse of him about 300 yards away from me. He was working his way through an old abandoned hog pen. I tried a quick challenge howl, got no response, and then lost sight of him. Methodically scanning the area, I finally caught him moving west along a road 300 yards away. I tried another howl, and he still wouldn’t even look my way.
Just as he reached a woodline over 300 yds away, I used an MFK “Howl Yeah Fight” (pup distress with adult coyote) call. In seconds, he was coming in hot.
Now, the wind was absolute nuts, blowing from right to left one minute and then left to right the next. To make matters worse, I could see the coyote begin veering to my left. In a few seconds, the coyote was going to wind me.
I’ll never know why he stopped, but at just under 100 yards, he hit the brakes. Perhaps something spooked him; maybe he had just caught the faintest scent of me, but for some reason, here was my chance. You can see it in the video; he only gave me a tiny shot window. But I had a feeling this boy would never give me a second opportunity.
The end of a two year long coyote hunting experience of a lifetime.
Confident in my home-built Remington .223 and shooting skills, I dropped the hammer, knowing it was an ethical shot for me. Unfortunately for him, the round was a 60 grain Hornady VMAX that night. The bullet hit him just to the right of center mass, traveling at nearly 3,000 feet per second, and he was dead right there.
The end of a two-year-long coyote hunt comes with mixed emotions. There was joy at finally connecting with such an elusive and witty foe and, at the same time, a hint of sadness. I have hunted my whole life, and I took three more coyotes over the next three days, but something is missing now.
A real trophy like this one, I fear, may well be a once-in-a-lifetime coyote hunting event. But there’s always a new stand to make and a new Moon to stare up at between calls. And who knows who is listening and turning his ears to fix upon the sound.