I live far enough north that when mid-winter rolls around the amount of daylight available to hunt coyotes can be less than eight hours. That means I need to be spending my daylight hours hunting, not scouting for someplace to hunt. This makes it important to have hunting spots and permissions lined up well before the furs prime up at the start of November.
Any coyote hunter worth his skinning knife will tell you that to be successful you have to hunt where the coyotes are. The more coyotes, the greater your success will be. The key then is to have a scouting method that finds concentrated amounts of coyotes—fast. I have such a system and it’s never failed me.
I scout for coyotes by driving down rural roads, at or near the speed limit, usually 50 mph, and looking for cattle. Cattle are, of course, much easier to find than coyotes. Just go for a drive in the country and you’ll see them everywhere. Once you’ve found cattle, you’ve found coyotes—Guaranteed!
Come winter, cattle need to be fed, so farmers and ranchers gather the herds into one or more centralized locations to nurse them through the cold months. Feeding techniques vary from spreading feed directly on the ground in large open fields to controlled feedlots. But the key is that this entire cattle husbandry system creates what is in effect a giant grocery store for coyotes.
Although I’ve found coyotes as far as four miles away; usually, during the daytime, you’ll find them within a mile or so of the cows. Look for patches of bush or a ravine where they can hide and lay up until dark, when they’ll start to forage. If you need to confirm their travel routes, take a walk around the herd looking for tracks. You might want to try some locator howling or even a siren. Go through that exercise a few times and it won’t be long before you’ll be able to look over a winter cattle feeding operation and with some certainty, declare exactly where the coyotes are hanging.
Once you’ve found cattle, it’s time to make your move. Check the wind, make your approach and call like you mean it. That’s what I did with the coyotes in the accompanying photo. All came trotting in from the immediate vicinity of cattle-feeding operations. Over the course of any winter, I’d guess three-quarters of the coyotes I lay crosshairs on arrive there from the same basic source. I found them, not because I was looking for coyotes, but because I was looking for cattle. And this is the time of year to go for those scouting drives. Just remember this, once you’ve found cattle, you’ve found coyotes.
Bonus Video: Speed Skinning Yotes