Wild Turkey Hunting Gear: What to Bring for Spring Hunting?
Hunting | February 20, 2024
October 18, 2023
In 2023, coyote hunting is still a relatively rare type of small game hunting in Quebec and Ontario, but its popularity is growing.
One thing’s for sure: stalking the clever coyote is a challenge, and it requires a great deal of patience and method. Fine hearing, excellent eyesight, and a keen sense of smell are all advantages for this omnivorous – and extremely discreet – predator.
This winter, grab your small game hunting license, muster your patience and skill and head out to experience this unusual hunt. Join us in learning all about coyote hunting techniques and equipment, and get ready for a season filled with surprises.
In this article, you will discover the techniques and equipment needed for coyote hunting:
This small game is hunted in autumn and (mostly) in winter. The exact opening dates of the season, as always, vary from zone to zone, but here is some general information:
The prime time for coyote hunting is during the mating season, which runs from mid-January to mid-February. Using the right calling techniques during this window will likely help you attract a few males. Both males and females tend to be more active and slightly less discreet during this time of year. Since mating is their priority, they are less likely to respond to prey distress calls.
Knowing all this, what’s the best time of day for coyote hunting?
Different hunters will have different experiences here. There’s no absolute “best” time, but mornings and late afternoons are usually favourable. Some hunters have also reported successful hunts around midday, proving that there’s no such thing as a “bad” time. In fact, if a coyote is searching for food, it can respond to distress calls or become interested in a baiting site at any time.
One essential factor to take into account (and a true enemy of coyote hunters) is the wind; when it’s strong, things get complicated. We’ll come back to this further down.
Coyote hunting often involves braving winter weather conditions. It also requires, among other things, careful assessment of your surroundings, thorough exploration of your territory, close attention to the wind, and proper authorization if you plan to hunt on private land (which is generally quite easy to obtain, given the coyote’s reputation).
First of all, when you get to your hunting zone, you’ll need to do a good amount of exploring. The goal is to understand how animals roam the territory so you can be fully prepared for the big day. Coyotes are animals of routine, and knowing their habits will give you a good head start. Stalking coyotes involves getting as close as possible to where their prey is likely to be found. In the morning, for example, you can explore the areas of transition between fields and woodland.
Coyote hunting is usually an “interactive” hunt. The idea is for your calls to trigger a reaction from nearby coyotes, generally dominant males.
It is also a moving type of hunt. If you don’t see anything after half an hour, move on to another spot. Keep an eye out for coyote tracks and droppings, and always face into the wind. Otherwise, coyotes will detect your presence before you arrive, thanks to their excellent sense of smell (a coyote can smell you from over 100 metres away). It’s also worth noting that some hunters bring in beating dogs for coyote hunting.
Coyotes can be hunted virtually anywhere in Quebec and Ontario. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to hunt in various places:
In a field, trying to stay close to the edges, and preferably in a position that’s higher than ground level,
In the woods, which requires greater experience and strong legs, as well as a good understanding of the wind direction,
In a hide/on the ground, making sure you’re well camouflaged in the background…
If you’re call-hunting, be prepared to cover a lot of terrain. Move through the woods, close to where fields meet wooded areas… and be mindful of the wind. Find a potentially promising spot and stay still for at least half an hour each time (that’s why it’s so important to wear proper clothing). Keep your movements quiet, making sure your clothing and equipment make as little noise as possible.
Another less “random” alternative is to use a baiting site where coyotes can be lured (with a carcass, for example). This hunting method has an interesting success rate, provided the site is well prepared and the hunter is well camouflaged in the environment. You can monitor the area in advance using hunting cameras, which can allow you to study the animals’ movements, to understand the direction they are coming from and the direction they are going, etc. Once you get there, stay silent and at a good shooting distance.
When you’re waiting, always make sure your firearm is well supported. If you’re sitting, raise it to your shoulder so you’re ready to shoot safely and accurately when the time comes. And don’t forget your bipod or tripod!
Game calls give you a whole range of options for attracting coyotes in your direction. You can, for instance, mimic the call of a hare in distress or the sounds of a male coyote… And you can even use various calls during the same outing.
If you’re call-hunting coyotes, remember that they are cunning and wary animals. Success is never guaranteed, even if calling is a proven technique.
There are two main types of game calls:
Mouth calls are very effective, but they sometimes require a bit of practice. A poorly executed call will make coyotes even more wary. And when a coyote senses a threat, it stays out of sight. So make sure you practise! Remember to keep your calls close to you (ideally in your coat pockets), otherwise, they might freeze and become unusable.
Electronic calls have been authorized for a good ten years in Quebec and Ontario. Their main appeal lies in the precision and variety of the sounds they produce. Plus, you can place them at a slight distance and call regularly without tiring yourself. Coyotes will be drawn towards the source of the sound, giving you an advantage. Mind your electronic call’s battery if you hunt in winter, though.
Once you decide on your hunting spot, get into position and start calling. During non-rut periods, for example, you can make prey distress calls for 20 or 30 seconds, then pause for a few minutes. Stay put for half an hour to leave time for any coyotes to arrive, and don’t hesitate to try different calls.
Some hunters choose to use a baiting site to try and harvest coyotes. This site can be equipped with hunting cameras and must be regularly replenished. If meat is used as bait in winter, it’s important to replace it after a while, as frozen meat gives off little or no odour. You can also use artificial bait (along with calls), making sure it’s big enough to be seen from a distance by coyotes in search of food. The advantage of visual bait is that it leads your target to a specific spot, not towards you. You can also use it in combination with hare or coyote urine.
Once on the site, position yourself at a good shooting distance. Keep a distance of at least 100 metres, and take the wind direction into account.
As it’s often the case with hunting, coyote hunting requires a few essential accessories. Still, remember to stay light if you plan on covering a lot of distance.
What you want for coyote hunting is a fast rifle for long-range or even very long-range shooting. If you want to add a little extra challenge, you can also hunt with a crossbow or bow.
When it comes to calibre, the most popular is the .22. The .204 Ruger and .243 Winchester are also great options. Ontario regulations do not allow rifles with a calibre over .275. In Quebec, on the other hand, there is no calibre restriction. It’s still important to ensure your firearm is suitable for this small game hunt. Always check the applicable laws and regulations before you hunt in a specific area.
Regarding ammunition, make sure you have the best possible grouping, fit for shots at 200 or 250 yards.
Practise your shooting skills regularly: coyote hunting requires great precision, as the area around its vital organs is only a few inches in size.
Coyotes are not big targets, especially considering the shooting distance. It’s not uncommon to take a shot from hundreds of yards away when hunting. That’s why a rifle scope is a must, ideally paired with a rangefinder. In terms of magnification, go for -12x or 3-15x minimum.
As we just saw, there are several types of game calls that are effective for coyote hunting. We recommend that you carry at least two with you:
If your budget allows, you can also consider getting an electronic game call.
A gun rest is essential if you go out coyote hunting. It makes for the most accurate shot possible when hunting from a hide. Remember that your target will often be hundreds of yards away.
You can opt for a bipod or a tripod, whichever you prefer. Bipod rests are lighter and more mobile, while tripods (though heavier and bulkier) offer greater stability. If you move around a lot on your hunting trips, you may want to opt for a bipod.
Coyote hunting is often a winter activity – bear in mind that the best period is from mid-January to mid-February. This means that clothing is a crucial issue; you don’t want to risk having to head back home earlier than planned.
Hunting this small game involves a certain amount of walking, as well as long periods of stillness. Waiting in a hide rarely lasts less than thirty minutes, during which time you must remain as still and silent as possible.
Put on a warm hunting jacket, preferably made with quiet materials. Be sure to choose a comfortable, functional model with plenty of pocket space, a hood, and a collar high enough to protect your neck. Add a good pair of gloves and a tuque as well. To protect the rest of your body, follow the well-known principles of the multi-layer technique.
As for camouflage, go all out: try to cover every inch of your skin if you can. It’s best to avoid all-white camouflage, though, because it might not always be effective at blending your silhouette into the background. Make sure your camo patterns match the environment you’re hunting in.
Don’t forget to keep your feet protected as well by wearing a warm and comfortable pair of boots that can handle many kilometres. In particular, look for insulated, waterproof boots with good grip even in snow.
If you like exploring, silence and long-range shooting, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy coyote hunting. Although it’s not the most popular of small game hunts, it still has plenty to appeal to those who want to venture out into the great outdoors during the colder seasons.
Now that you’ve learned the facts about coyote hunting in 2023, it’s up to you to venture out into the woods and fields. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to come and meet our in-store specialists for personalized advice!