Coyote Hunting like a Coyote Whisperer
Coyote Hunting in Utah usually ends up becoming a practice in patience. Not just for attempting to bring them in but also dealing with other predator hunters out there doing the same thing. The Utah bounty and Open Season has spurred a growth of Predator Hunters like never before. I recall setting up a stand at six in the morning with a friend on his property. We started our calling line up and off course “Jack Rabbit Distress” was a given call to use. About 10 minutes into it, we were either getting Jack Rabbits dying on their own and giving a distress call from our calling, or a nearby hunter was using their number one hitter as well…JRD (Jack Rabbit Distress). It was the latter. At that point it was safe to call it quits. We stuck it out a little bit longer responding with some Coyote vocalizations. Good clean fun with some type of pay back I guess.
A lot of areas in Utah are so heavily hunted that the Coyotes know JRD means PHD (Predator Hunter in Distress). Staying at a single stand at times ends up being 40 minutes of holding the best coyote gun in hand without a hint of a Coyote in sight. This has led me, and I’m sure others, to desperate measures or experimentation. Switch the E-Caller setting to some type of Coyote vocalization and see what happens. Throughout the numerous stands and experiments I’ll get some to respond but not always. I’ve come to realize that if you want to be successful, you need to try and think like a Coyote and understand their complex vocalizations.
Your standard E-Caller can be loaded with up to hundreds of different calls. A majority of them are Coyote vocalizations. Enough calls to make you think the Coyote Marian Webster Dictionary is right in front of you. One thing it doesn’t have are different accents and familiar other local Coyote tones and pitches. If you are from the West and travel to the South, you can definitely pickup on the accents. Wouldn’t you be able to pick out a family members voice if your eyes were closed?
Suddenly showing up at the stand and testing your skills is “Coyonese” may be doing more harm than good. Referencing Jaymi Heimbuch’s “Translating the Song Dog: What Coyotes are saying when they howl”, Jayme lists the vocalizations and what they mean. A few of them are: Growl, Bark-Howl, Yelp, Lone-Howl, Group-Howl, Group Yip-Howl… To sum up the research done by Jaymi:
Bark-Howl – is used as a long-distance high-intensity threat or alarm. It starts with a bark and blends into a howl.
Bark – The bark is a long-distance threat or alert of low to medium intensity.
Lone Howl – The lone howl is just what you probably already know it to be: a howl by a single coyote, which is often started with a series of barks that reseracher R. M.
Mengel called “herald barks.” As mentioned above, coyotes can distinguish individuals based on their unique howl, and the purpose of the howl is to announce one’s location to others in their social group. Often, the lone howl gets an answer, and the coyotes can find each other to meet up.
Group Howl – A group howl is sent up when two or more coyotes come together after being apart, or it could be given as a response to the howls of distant coyotes. It is, according to Lehner, essentially two or more coyotes giving their own lone howls either successively or simultaneously, as a way of giving out location information to any listeners.
Group Yip-Howl – This is what coyotes are really known for. The group yip-howl is sent up when coyotes reunite, or just before they separate to go off hunting individually. As more coyotes join in, the more intense the vocalizations become, increasing in frequency and amplitude.
The group yip-howl probably strengthens social bonds, may help to synchronize mood, and may also reaffirm social status within the pack. He also notes that the group yip-howl “may be most important in announcing territorial occupancy and preventing visual contact between groups of coyotes.”
The chorus tells any nearby coyote packs about whose turf this is, and thus keeps other coyotes away. It also reveals (or hides) how many coyotes are in the area and may help regulate coyote density through reproductive rate. Research has shown that female coyotes will produce larger litters when there is little competition, and smaller litters when there is a high density of coyotes in the habitat. This is one of the secrets to the coyote’s success at spreading across the continent in the last century.
[Note: This is also why indiscriminate killing of coyotes to decrease their density doesn’t work as a management strategy. Coyotes repopulate an area quickly and easily when competition is eliminated, with the population rebounding or even expanding in a very short time. Perhaps a more effective, cost-cutting and non-lethal strategy for reducing the number of coyotes in an area would be playing recorded group yip-howls to make resident coyotes think there is more competition for resources. This is something several researchers have expressed interest in exploring, specifically in order to reduce conflicts with ranchers. If we can discover more about what specific messages are embedded in certain howls or barks, ranchers could play specific recordings to keep coyotes away from livestock as well as minimize the number of coyotes living in an area.]
The information provided by Jaymi Heimbuch tells me that I assumed a lot about Coyote Vocalizations and that one must be very careful in how they are used. If you have your favorite hunting stands, try to stay away from the group yip-howls. This may cause local Coyotes to move on because of population density threat or they don’t recognize the accent you’re throwing out there. If you feel the need to use some vocalizations, I would try to stick with a Lone Howl after some Prey distress calls are used. This won’t give the sense of population threat but will help you range how close they may be coming into your stand. The Lone Howl is not threatening and could be inviting not like Barks and Yips that could possibly scare off Coyotes not interested in a fight.