Whenever I set up to do some calling, I always try to predict where the predators are lurking and thus where they'll appear. Nailing that aspect of a stand correctly gives me one of the biggest kicks I get from hunting. Too often I get it wrong, however, and end up learning another lesson about part-time hunter vs. full-time predator. Recently, a couple of coyotes taught that lesson so well I almost swallowed my call.
Cold, sunny days will frequently send predators looking for a place to lay up in the sunshine. At -4 degrees with a stiff northwest breeze, our hunting day certainly qualified as cold. And around noon on that sunny day, my hunting buddy said he had a place scouted out for just this kind of weather. It was nearby, so we made it our next stop.
A long walk ensued as we hiked across an open pasture to get into the downwind side of a patch of trees. My guide explained that inside those trees were bulldozed piles of downed timber—a perfect spot for coyotes to soak up the warmth of a winter sun.
We walked to the edge of the clearing containing the long rows of timber piles and set up to call. A whispered argument ensued about who should face the clearing vs. who should cover the back door. It was my turn to shoot, so I let myself be talked into watching the piles. The butt end of the first pile was a scant 50 yards from where I sat, with more of the same stretching 300 yards into the distance.
I was feeling optimistic when I blew the first notes of dying rabbit. With that lungful gone, I drew in more air to repeat the message, but stalled in a choke when Mr. Coyote walked around the corner of the pile in front of me. He looked more startled than hungry, and reinforced my assumption when he trotted away. By this time I'd recovered enough to get crosshairs on him. He stopped at 64 yards and I dropped him. At the shot, another coyote popped out in the same spot, but immediately ran off, using the pile for cover.
I got back on the call right away, but nothing else ever showed. Once we'd packed up, back-tracking these two was easy. We found their beds on top of the timber pile ... a lasered 53 yards from where we were set up. I'll never know how they didn't hear or see us, because we certainly weren't as quiet as we should have been. Maybe we were just lucky enough for them to be asleep. The photo below was taken from where I sat. The arrow shows the coyote's bed, and the track in the snow leads to the one we bagged.
We both felt pretty good about predicting the coyotes' general location and activities, yet slightly embarrassed by our lack of discipline and foresight in approaching and setting up. The whole episode served as a reminder to be stealthy when trespassing into a coyote's bedroom. Perhaps it's best to start those kind of stands with something softer than a wailing rabbit—mouse squeaks would probably have been a better beginning.