Coyote Staring At You? Shoot Now!

It’s the first question you’ll ask yourself when you see your first coyote: Should I shoot now, or wait?

Ordinarily, we could just jump right in and start talking about coyote body language and how to read it, but it might be more helpful if you saw a coyote actually come to a caller, first. Here’s a female Eastern Coyote, suffering from mange (note the hairless, thin tail), charging into a coyote pup distress sequence. Watch it a few times and note how she moves, how many stops she makes, and especially where she looks (the wind is blowing left to right in the video).

If you waited to google “What to do if a coyote stares at me,” until a half hour before leaving to hunt, then we better give you the quick brief.

This was recorded during the day on an:

Wait for a better shot if the coyote:

  1. Is moving directly (or at any angle) toward you or the caller.
  2. Has a tail that is wagging or hanging limply down.
  3. Is holding its head horizontal to its back.
  4. Keeps looking over its shoulder when halting.
  5. Has both ears constantly swiveling around.

That’s a happy coyote, without a care in the world. If it suddenly sits down within range and starts to groom itself, take your best shot. Otherwise, wait for it to fill your scope and then drop the hammer.

Got time for more? Or is the truck warmed up?

Shoot the moment you get a chance if the coyote:

  1. Starts moving its head from side to side.
  2. Drops its nose down to the ground as it nears.
  3. Stops moving its ears and fastens them in your direction.
  4. Stops moving toward you and turns to get downwind.
  5. Raises its hackles and stops moving.

You may have been spotted, scented, or parked too close to your truck. In any event, you are about to be busted. The take the next available shot.

Hey, gas prices have been rising. Why not shut off that truck and finish your coffee while you read the rest of this post?

You fool! You waited to long!

You let the coyote get to within seconds of bolting if you see any of these signs:

  1. The coyote’s tail is rigid straight and pointed directly at the ground.
  2. The coyote’s nose is above its head.
  3. The damn dog starts barking at you!
  4. The coyote stops with its head lowered and stares in your direction.
  5. Oh man, you really blew this, now the mutt is jerking its head around trying to figure out what he just spotted.

Your only chance now? Wait until the coyote starts to turn to leave and take a center mass shot.

Don’t forget to ask the coyote to sit and stay!

Always make a lip squeak, kiss sound, or bark to get the coyote to stop before you shoot at it. Here’s a great video explaining it.

Heck, just about any sound will work. Look at all the suggestions these predator hunters make:

Just what causes a coyote to stop reacting to a call?

About 4 minutes after you start predator hunting, some camouflage wearing nut job is going to walk up to you and start yammering and drooling about, “Educated Coyotes.” What they mean, theoretically anyway, is that a dog that has come to a caller and been shot and missed, or busted a hunter and fled away in a nick of time, is now…?

I can’t logically fill in the end of that statement. Suspicious of prey sounds they hear? How will they ever grab a distressed rabbit again? Aware that humans are pretending to be injured robins? Unwilling to answer the call of a wounded pup—because it might be a trap? I live in a very rural area, so I don’t know much about nothing. Maybe they mean educated coyotes drive around in Teslas and listen to NPR.

Let’s look at some other ACTUAL REASONS you can’t get a coyote to come anywhere near you.

  • You are calling from another coyote’s territory. If you can see that coyote come charging right for you and then suddenly lose all forward momentum and start running parallel to a stream, fence, or logging road; you are in another coyote’s territory. Coyotes never forget a fight with another coyote. And they avoid getting their butt’s kicked for trespassing.
  • You stink. Take a quick glance around, are all your buddies UPWIND of you? Yeah, personal hygiene aside, you might have been winded by the coyote. If it got a good smell of you, it’s game over.
  • Your scope’s lens sparkled and the coyote saw it. I’m sure it didn’t see you playing with your phone or changing position for the hundredth time. Stay still, dammit!
  • It saw your truck. Yep, happens all the time. Lazy predator hunters park their trucks, have one last smoke, and walk 5 yards away before setting their “perfect stand.” Mr. or Mrs. Coyote hears a rabbit distress call (it’s the only one lazy folks ever use) and grab the high ground for a peek. What do they see? A big shiny mini-van, so close by, they can read the 2nd Amendment bumper stickers on it. These are educated coyotes, you see.
  • It heard you lie to your spouse. Coyotes are quite religious and monogamous—they detest any form a marital infidelity, even in humans, and even lying. Maybe you should be more quiet when predator hunting? Oh, and I thought I said to quit fidgeting around? Anyway, be very quite, the coyotes are hunting wabbits.

Okay, you start warming that truck up again. I’m almost done.

You’ll spook less coyotes if you do some scouting

Hey, it’s 2021!

You can scout from home for the best sites near you:

Or you can actually go for a very long walk in the woods and find some fox trails to ambush, here:

Or go for the Gold and try and find a fox den!

Quit complaining, fox are good practice for Coyote hunting.

Scout, be quiet, stay motionless, and go deep. Now, go put more fur in the truck!

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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