Coyote calling attempts don't always work out as planned, but sometimes we can recover from our blunders. Last Friday, I hit three locations while trying out some new diaphragm calls, and the first of three coyotes ended up as one of those salvage operations.
I'd hiked into the back of a small cattle operation, setting up against a pile of dead timber that gave me a nice downwind view. I started out with a raspy distress call from MFK Game Calls. (Tip: Consider adding diaphragm calls like those made by MFK to your bag of tricks. The sounds are great and the hands-free ability to call and shoot while moving is no small advantage.) After 20 minutes, only magpies had appeared. Declaring this a dry hole, I took a careful look around, even walking to the other side of the timber pile and checking upwind—nothing. Satisfied I was alone, my ritual of packing up took another few minutes.
With more good country upwind and intent on trying my luck there, I walked around the logs again. This time I caught a glimpse of a coyote cresting the ridge behind me, looking for rabbits. Being faster than me, he disappeared before I could shoot. I watched it run down the fenceline and turn west into the distance.
Obviously, I hadn't remained on stand long enough and now I was stuck with a salvage operation. That's not always possible, but this coyote hadn't smelled me or obtained a good look and he ran off upwind. It all meant I had a chance, so I hiked down the fenceline after him.
Half a mile later I spotted him in a field, near where he'd disappeared. He saw me, too, and quickly trotted into a patch of standing timber. I was planning options when another one showed up and followed his partner into the safety of the trees. This was going sour fast, but like before, the wind was in my face and they'd only partially seen me.
A quick scan revealed a calling location, so I decided to try and pull them out of the trees with pup-distress calls. I made the short move to a steep hillside, popped the MFK pup-distress diaphragm into my mouth and cut loose with ki-yi calls.
It worked. Within minutes, both came boiling out of the trees, barking and yipping at me. Trouble was, they didn't appear where expected, and although they were visible, I now had an intervening screen of brush that made shooting impossible. They knew something was wrong and wouldn't come closer, but the injured pup drove them insane. They called me every obscenity in the coyote vocabulary.
In desperation, I dropped to my belly and slid down the hill in the fresh snow, continuing to ki-yi until I reached an area of thinner brush. There, I quickly found a coyote in the scope, and a bullet ended his career when he stepped into an opening.
Failed stands don't always end this well, but such episodes are reminders that you should always consider the possibility of a salvage attempt—even if you've been "busted."