You’ve invested into this business of hunting coyotes. You’ve invested time, searching for all the best gear with which to make your hours in the stand a success. Then you invested money into purchasing all that great gear.
After which you invested still more time into the hunt, sitting in your stand with your calls and your wind checker, wondering why there was not a single ‘yote in sight.
You wrack your brain for what the problem could be...you have all the right gear, the farmer who owns the land told you there’s so many coyotes on his property that he can’t keep his sheep safe, so what’s the problem?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Your friend who says he’s bagged at least 5 furs every day he’s ever spent in the stand? He’s lying. You’ve been there, I’ve been there; everyone has.
That’s why I’d like to suggest to you that perhaps you simply have bad timing. Now, that’s not as luck-of-the-draw as it may seem. With the right knowledge, you can perfect your timing and learn the best time to hunt coyotes.
Pieces of The Puzzle
When preparing for a hunt, choosing the right timing can be just as important as your gear. The question of timing, though, is surprisingly open-ended. Here are some factors to consider:
Depending on where you live, there may or may not be a legal hunting season. Some states have unrestricted hunting on coyotes; if this is not the case, however, you’ll have to constrain your hunting to the legal season.
If you’re free to choose when you can hunt, most people agree that the best time is fall through spring, roughly October through April.
If you live in an area that is heavily hunted, then it may be better to go hunting early on in this season, when the pups who have grown over the summer do not yet know to be wary of your call.
Check out this video for a glimpse at some curious coyote pups.
Another important factor when it comes to choosing the best time to hunt in the expected wind speed. This is not so much for your benefit, but the coyote’s.
You see, coyotes are infamous for having a sense of smell even better than that of a cadaver dog--that’s why wind-checkers are so important when hunting them.
You can’t use scent products to hide your scent from them; you’re only recourse is to make sure you’re downwind from your prey.
The coyotes, of course, have come to rely heavily upon their ultra-sensitive noses. One of the worst things for their sense of smell is wind. Imagine if you, relying on your eyesight, tried to go hunting in the middle of a white-out.
You probably wouldn’t be too keen on the idea, as you’d have quite a difficult time just getting your bearings. Coyotes react the same way to wind, and will usually bed down and wait it out.
Mind you, a bit of a breeze is alright. However, if it’s going to be blustering all day long, you will have such a hard time getting any ‘yotes to come to call that it just isn’t worth it.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this coyote mousing almost purely by smell.
Adverse weather conditions can cause coyotes to bed down as well; try not to pick a hunting day with dismal weather. This may seem obvious, but the reason why might still surprise you.
It has less to do with poor visibility or the general “ickiness” of bad weather--the reasons humans don’t like the storms. Moreso, it’s an instinctual response.
Right before a storm, the barometric pressure drops significantly. This drop in barometric pressure seems to be more directly related to their tendency to wait it out than any other factor of the storm
Conversely, immediately after a storm is a fantastic to time to catch coyotes. This is especially true after a longer, more protracted storm or other inclement weather event.
This is because, after most of the forest’s creatures have hunkered down and stayed hidden for 6 or 8 hours, tummies start rumbling. As soon as the weather clear and the pressure rises, it’s dinner time.
They’ll venture out, typically in larger numbers than at other times, as they are driven by hunger and the need to make a kill of their own after waiting out the storm.
Lastly, you need to pay attention to the amount of sunlight that will be present whenever you plan on hunting. Most people assume this means hunting at night, but that is an oversimplification.
As Ultimate Coyote Hunting explains, the issue is not so much the time of day per se, but rather how much light is present. Too much light is going to scare away wary ‘yotes.
For this reason, many people with more patience than I possess see lots of success hunting at night. I can do it, and it can be fun on occasion, but it is by no means the only way.
For most of the year, you can hunt around dawn and dusk with a fair amount of success, as the light is typically pretty minimal during these quiet times of day.
Depending upon the season, you can also find good results from hunting all day long on particularly overcast days. The cloud cover makes the coyotes feel safer, and more likely to venture out.
The Big Picture
As you can see, there really isn’t a simple answer to deciding on the best time to hunt coyotes. Of course, the ideal would be a cool, cloudy day in mid-fall, but that’s a narrow window.
More realistically, maximizing your chances of bagging on every hunting trip is about understanding what conditions make coyotes more likely to come to call, and seeking out those opportunities.
What do you think, did this post help answer your question? Leave a comment and let me know!