Where Coyotes Sleep

Unlike those of us who hunt them, coyotes are primarily nocturnal, which means if we want to hunt them successfully during the day, we need to identify their bedrooms.

Looking around a North American house, it's easy to recognize which is the bedroom; that task isn't as simple with coyotes, but it can be done.

When I'm hunting and want to identify where coyotes might be laid up for the day, I usually back up one step and find a food source first. It can be briar patch full of rabbits, a herd of cattle or a pig farm. Once that's located, it's time to riddle out where the coyotes are napping. And with factors such as temperature, sunshine, visibility, cover and human activity to consider, it can be a puzzle fit for Sherlock Holmes to unravel.

However, one often overlooked variable is wind direction. If coyotes have a favored food source, they'll often curl up for the day downwind from it. I learned this the hard way, many years ago when I came across a dead cow in a pasture. The cow was in the middle of a pasture that was really an old lake bed, so it was flat as a pool table and stretched a mile in all directions. There were some patches of higher grass in places, but it was impossible for a standing coyote not to be seen. I had a good view of the deceased bovine from a distance and watched it long time hoping a coyote would show up. But it was midday, and I wasn't terribly surprised when nothing appeared. I figured they didn't like being that exposed during the day, making this a nighttime-only dining destination, so I hiked over to the cow to take a closer look.

When I'd finished inspecting the coyote sign around the cow, I happened to glance toward the west. An easterly wind was carrying my scent that way, and I looked up just in time to see two coyotes jump up from their beds in the taller grass, about 300 yards away, and race to the distant treeline. Busted. Those coyotes were using the wind to monitor their dead cow. I'm sure if I'd been another coyote, their noses would have told them and they'd have run at me and not away from me to protect their food source. Lesson learned.

I used that knowledge again recently when I hunted a similar pasture. All the cows were alive in this one, but the terrain was much like that first pasture. With not much cover around, I figured it was a good bet coyotes were sleeping in the taller grass downwind from the herd. It took a long walk to get into position, but once I started calling, there was a coyote in my lap within a minute. I'd guessed right: The steady breeze and the coyote’s incredible nose was allowing it to monitor exactly what was happening in and around its primary food source, the most important thing in a coyote's world. The photo below shows the coyote where it fell, the tall grass where it was bedded and the herd farther in the distance.

When you need to figure out where coyotes are bedded, be aware they like to use their noses to keep an "eye" on what's happening with their food. Slip into position downwind of their bedroom, call like you mean it and then get ready.

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