View Full Version : Strange Pattern - Distress a no-no

01-05-2009, 08:29 AM
Well, if it happens 2 or 3 years in a row, I have to call it a pattern.

I call coyotes from September to March on average. I mix up my calling patterns but like everyone have my favorites for certain times of the year. I attempt to journal my hunts and for sure all my kills to see if patterns emerge. Some of my best calling years ago happened during the Christmas holidays with nothing more than one hand call. However, the last 3 years this time period has been especially tough. I kept convincing myself, the weather had been too nice and it was probably conditions plus a carry-over from deer hunting that was causing it.

This fall and winter, I shot coyotes through deer season. As usual it slowed a bit but still produced coyotes consistently. Now, the test was coming for Christmas as we have had the most snow ever on record in ND for December and conditions were brutal. Lows anywhere from -35F to-20F and highs -10 to -5. Coyotes have to eat right and must be starving in these conditions as food is covered up so prey distress sounds should be great. Other years when snow was really deep I moved to cattle yards or deer areas and this usually worked. Well, my guess was right in that I found coyotes but not the response I was looking for. The coyotes either ignored me or turned and ran as fast as possible the other direction.

Well, after a few days of hard calling, and burning out my truck transmission, it finally hit me that distress was my problem not the solution. Any coyote I saw came to vocalizations and not to prey distress. Unfortunately, I realized this too late during my hunting with no truck and no time left to hunt. I put in 20+ stands with 0 coyotes responding positively. After, I switched to howling/volcalization only, I called in coyotes on 3 of my last 4 stands.

I spoke to a few other die-hard varmint hunters who were out as well, and they said the same thing. Any bird, rabbit, rodent distress they used simply scared the coyotes away. This was using both hand-held and electronic. When I checked my journal from last year, I noticed some similar notes but did not look before leaving for the hunting trip and had forgotten over the last year. This may be a local trend but thought I would pass this along.

Keep after them. The problem I am also having is with this much snow, the snowmobilers are after them hard. It is illegal but it doesn't stop them. The coyotes don't have much of a chance with all this deep fluffy snow as the coyotes are breaking through and the sleds are flying 90+mph after them in totally open country. Not much of a fair chase.

The Baron of Bufflehead
01-05-2009, 01:59 PM
VERY interesting. I was at the coyotes pretty hard from Christmas 'till last Saturday and didn't call out one using prey sounds.:CF: I probably put in about the same as you - 20+ stands. Saw 2 on one stand that came out to hurt pup cries, but we had just seen a coyote there when driving up and got busted, so my strategy was to make them think their pal was hurt. It worked, but no shots fired as the coyotes were on the next property and we didn't have permission to shoot in there. Their buddy came back over the hill to join them and we played with all 3 for about 10 minutes, but they never came closer than 200 yards. As easy shot, but we were hoping they'd come through the fence and we wouldn't have to trespass. I saw another coyote but that was when I bumped it between stands.

Thanks for the tip Korey.:TT: I will try dropping the prey sounds and see what happens on my next outing.

01-05-2009, 07:43 PM
Not to give away to many of my secrets :nn: but right now it seems like what is working the best is some type of greeting or interogation howl, followed by some type of territorial howl or challenge howl, followed by a coyote fight, and then adult distress (Ki-Yi's). Not sure if the others are even needed but the coyotes seem to be showing up on the KiYis. So, Baron, it doesn't surprise me at all that it was the pup distress that made those coyotes take a look because this is similar to the Ki Yis, just younger.

It doesn't make any sense to me at this point as it must be hard for them to even survive so why would they want to come to a fight. My only thoughts are that either:

They are super competive right now because of the scarcity of food and they have moved to mostly using dead animal piles. The fighting sounds might either indicating a new food source or someone messing with one of their existing food sources.
They are starting to change their social pack structure as we approach the mating season and something in the vocalization calling sequence is triggering a response to this social change.

Doesn't explain why prey distress is spooking them. I have covered all the bases on wind, set up, approach, sounds, volume, call location, etc but maybe someday I will figure it out why they won't come to a rabbit or bird call right now. If it was education, they wouldn't come in Feb/March which they did last year, so it was a temporary thing.

01-06-2009, 02:32 PM
Thanks for the heads up Korey. Our problem here is we have lost alot of the snow cover and with the full moon coming up this weekend, it's not looking good. Last year what worked good for me was starting off with a young pup howl and then go to a jack rabbit distress in intervals, all had calling. Had to be a territorial thing because we shot mostly males.
This year I broke down and bought a Foxpro and can't wait to get after em.
My only question is do I let the e-caller run consitently on the distress calls or break it up? By the way, I don't meen to hy-jack your thread but some help would be greatly appreciated:TT:

01-07-2009, 08:35 AM

My quick answer is for prey-distress I tend to let my call go for at least 3-5 minutes without any breaks and for howling I keep it very brief depending on what I am trying to trigger. Usually 1 or 2 howls every 3-5 minutes and that is it unless I have one really talking to me.
For those that wish a longer explaination, read on.

As to why you shot mostly males with your calling sequenc, research has shown male coyotes will chase off male and female coyotes, but female coyotes don't run off male coyotes from a territorial standpoint. So, either the pup sound you were making sounded like a young male intruder, or simply by odds of elimination the male coyote typically responds to chase away more intruders than females. There are exceptions to every rule like if you are really close to a den site, etc.

On the question of contiuous calling, everyone has their opinions. My opinion is people who hand call typically call for 30-60 seconds and pause for the same and repeat. People have used all kinds of justification including the logic, "No rabbit can call for a long time due to their small lung capacity". Nice idea but although a coyote is smart, I don't believe they sit out there with a stop watch and think wow that rabbit has been screaming for too long.

The 3 main reasons why hand callers should pause is #1 they would die if they puffed on that call non-stop for 15-30 minutes depending on the length of stand and #2 is due to the coyotes eye-sight. If a coyote is approaching and looking directly at you and you are calling, you are busted. On a similar note, the more you call, the more the coyote knows exactly where you are and will try to wind you many times.

So, your question was what do you do with electronics. If you read the popular predator magazines, they will usually say to call softly and pause every 30-60 seconds. The most respected callers I know in the industry tend to let their calls run and pause very little and crank their calls up (depending on terrain, proximity of likely coyotes, etc)

An electronic call lets you use the coyotes abilities against him. You can let the sound run as long as you want because you won't run out of air, and even with an electronic you want the coyote glued to the call and not you. This will allow you a lot more freedom of movement. Also, if a coyote wants to validate the sound, you want the coyote to try to wind the call and if he knows where it is at and you have positioned yourself properly, he will get downwind of the call before he ever gets downwind of you. If it isn't sure where the call is at it may wind you by accident as it is wandering around.

So, long story short, I don't let it run for 30 minutes straight. For howling, I have always been a firm believer less is more. A few howls but not too much unless I have a real aggressive male coming and he is challenging me hard. I don't want him to lose interest. For distress, I do let it run for at least 3-5 minutes straight and pause briefly and either repeat the same sound or move to my next sound in my sequence depending on what I am trying to do.

Here goes one of my long posts but it is on a similar topic. Most hand callers, call into the wind. Why, because it is about the only chance they have of stopping a coyote from winding them. Problem is most adult coyotes will circle them anyway and because they are walking into and calling into the wind, either the coyote smells them or typically sees their truck as they are cicling and they are gone. With electronics, my favorite is calling into the cross-wind. Point the call in a way that will go into the crosswind and potentially push out and also downwind. Then position yourself in a manner that you have a good shot from the crosswind all the way to the downside, cheating a bit towards the downwind side as this is where they will usually be. This way you have a shot virtually in all positions. If you call directly into the wind with an electronic call and position yourself directly downwind, you have lost 2 very important elements of an e-caller. You have lost a lot of volume and you have lost the main advantange which is the coyote will work around and wind you. Use that instinct of theirs to your advantage.

You didn't ask this question, but just throwing it out there.

Good hunting.

01-07-2009, 02:13 PM
Korey, many Thanks for the reply. I like your view on calling into a crosswind and it makes sense to me. Also on hiding the truck, very very important.
The only problem I'm going to have is I bought a NX3 which has no remote. I know I went the cheap route and now wish I'd went with at least the FX3.
I think my setups will be limited to spots where I can try and keep them from busting me. I usually have a buddy with me and we try and set up safely where the guy downwind will have the best opportunity.

My son has a late muzzy deer tag to fill and then after that it's game on for the howlers.

Thanks for taking the time on the advise, it's greatly appreciated!!!!

We need some fresh kill pics on here, so lets get after em guys.:st:

01-08-2009, 10:02 AM

A remote is great, but I will say a bad remote is worse than no remote at all. It has to have big buttons and have a great range or they are worthless. I have learned if the remotes say 700 hundred yards, it might be 100 yards. My brother-in-law recently bought a cheap remote e-caller and he couldn't move 10 feet from it and it said 100 yards, what a joke. Your idea is right, just make sure you have someone positioned that if a coyote tries to wind you, they can be positioned to intercept the coyote before they get there. The only real catch to this is it depends on how far out the coyote circles you. If at 300-400 yards the shooter may be in position, at 400-600 yards probably no luck. You use what you have, so good luck.

One other tip, if you are keeping the call by you and calling very open country rotate the speaker. You have to weigh the pros and cons of hand movement as you rotate the speaker but this seems to help a lot. It is the only drawback I can find with using a remote e-caller. I have thought about building some rotating platform for mine but I carry to much junk into the field already.

I will post some pictures soon as I will provide an update to this thread topic next.

01-08-2009, 10:41 AM
I wanted to post a report. 3 of us went out last night under a 84% full moon.

Forecast -7 for a low, clear skies and 5mph winds becoming calm.

We decided to leave early and get in two stands by sundown and switch to night mode after. First gravel road we went down, stuck. 2 hours later, sun had gone down and we finally get out of the snow bank. Great start to the evening. Now we are all sweated up and we needed to give the moon a bit of time to get higher as it was cloudy and not clear so we headed to the nearest town to get something to eat.

Clouds set in, winds pick up to 15 mph and snow starts to drift. Nice forecast right. We set up on the first stand and we had two e-callers along so although I said in this post distress wasn't working right now, I went back to thinking it is night, they are hunting. So, I used rabbit distress and after about 5 minutes I had the other e-caller start on howling, fighting, and adult distress.

One of the guys with me was glassing with binocs and said I see a coyote on a frozen lake in front of us. I had the nyte vu (IR) attachment on the scope and sure enough, I flip it on and at about 500yards I see this coyote. It will not budge. I threw everything at him. It actually laid down and curled up. At 8PM in the evening I kept thinking what in the world was this coyote doing. One of my hunting buddies said, I am going stalk him. I was thinking, you go ahead and try to stalk a coyote we just saw sit up at 8PM at night, in 3+ feet of snow. About 15 minutes later, the other guy with me said, the guy who started to stalk had laid down, so I took a look and estimated it at 300 yards. He won't hit a sleeping coyote curled up in a ball with a 15 mph wind at 300 yards in the middle of the night. I was just about ready to hit the caller to see if the coyote would get up to give him a better shot and bang, and that coyote went from a ball to stretched out. He plugged that coyote right in the noggin. He proved me wrong. We got most of it on the scope camera so that was really cool. It was paced off at right what I guessed somewhere between 275 and 300 yards. It was really cool, but coyote #1 didn't want distress but the howling didn't interest him either.

Stand #2 dry but with all the filming we have to do after getting the kill on stand #1, it is now 12:30AM.

We decide to try one more spot as we are still more than 1 hour from our houses and we all are working the next day. I had learned my lesson somewhat and said I am not putting on distress for at least 10 minutes. I ripped a greeting howl loose and faintly I heard a pack of coyotes respond. A few minutes l later I hit a territorial howl, and one older coyote responded and it seemed closer, so I went through my typical challenge, fight, coyote hurt routine. Nothing yet, so I finally gave in and started doing some rabbit distress, and nothing came in. We are 20 minutes into it almost 1AM and I thought, let me go through the fighting progression one last time. This time after about 30 seconds, one of the guys looks back at me and said get the camera ready, there are at least 5 coming. We must have pulled the pack in. I flipped all the equipment on and the lead alpha male came in first and was trying to circle us. He was about 200 yards and he stopped. At that moment, we realized where he was standing, he could probably see one of our trucks, he looked like he was about to bolt, and we called the shot. He went right down and the other 4 scattered. It is a tough call to make but if the alpha male had bolted all the coyotes would have went with him with no shooting opportunity. 1 hour of additional footage to wrap up the hunt and at about 2:15 AM, we headed for home. Long story, but had lots of elements which makes hunts memorable. We left Fargo at 3:00PM, got stuck and didn't put our first stand in until 8PM. We left at 3:00PM and I crawled into bed at 3:30 AM, and in total only called 3 stands. Shot at 2 and killed 2 and went through about 4 camera batteries.

And, of course, by the time we got home, the sky cleared, and the wind let up.

No matter what it was a successful night. I will post picutres as soon as I pull them from the video camera. For whatever reason, in ND it still seems that even for night hunting they won't respond to prey-distress. 3 stands isn't enough for firm evidence but it still appears to be the pattern.

01-08-2009, 01:59 PM
I went out solo for a couple of hours last night and came up empty. First stand I figured it would be a bust with some old truck tracks in it, must have been the hound runners. Second stand was my ace in the hole spot where last year we shot 3 on two differant nights and also came up blank. The wind also picked up here and with very little snow cover it wasn't the best of conditions. Couldn't use the 250 but had the M1 loaded up with buckshot and there was enough moonlight to make a kill.

I did try rotating the caller but with the wind it didn't seem to matter, but not going to give up on that one. I'd be interested on your rotating ideal. Sounds like you had quite the night Korey but at least you got some action.

Good luck to you and everyone else, and keep after em guys!!!!:TT:

01-08-2009, 04:23 PM
We try to be different than everybody else....we don't buy the calls that everybody else has...we buy calls that are from not very popular companies....just think how many people buy one call and try it...the "off-brands" are something they have not heard....also we don't predator hunt when its windy....they can hear your calls from longer distances and there is a less chance of them smelling you...

when we call we call for about 30 sec then wait 3-5 minutes... repeat for 15-30 minutes depending on the stand....

#1 rule....keep hidden and don't move...

01-09-2009, 01:26 PM

Thanks for adding additional information to the thread. I also do not buy the standard of what everyone else has purchased.

If I waited for non-windy days, I woud rarely hunt in ND. A hunter just needs to be adaptable. For me, a bit of wind helps me predict how a coyote will react, and it helps lessen truck, and other noises that spook coyotes.

Every day is a good day to shoot coyotes.

01-09-2009, 05:40 PM

i know where you are coming from...(my girlfriend lives an hour from fargo) i have been there a few times and know how the wind works.....

its a total different story in colorado...were i hunt is in the mountains...different terrain...wind...and different coyotes all together....

02-02-2009, 02:50 PM
Here are pictures of the night hunt I promised earlier. Some are from the video camera, some from night goggles and others from the night scope. Keep in mind the first set of night images are from more than 500 yards so hard to make the coyote out. The 2nd set of pictures, the coyote is a bit over 200 yards. Enjoy.

Story (http://www.druryoutdoors.com/148/journal/korey-kirschenmann-jan-7.php)

03-03-2009, 06:54 AM
Korey, some valuable information you are posting up here. I have not had much luck with the distress calls at all this year. We have had more snow, and colder temp's than the past 5 years. Coyotes have not been out searching as much, I am assuming it is due to the snow conditions they want to stay as stationary as possible to save energy. There are a few turkey farms close by, which is a huge help for the coyotes and all the activity is near their dumping stations (carcasses).
Will your coyote kill from the Drury site be on the next predator madness video???


03-03-2009, 09:36 AM
HitmenWaterFowlin I agree the more snow the more stationary as a good general rule and they frequent more dead animal piles.

I will have to admit though last winter, ND had very little snow and the pattern was similar. Coyotes wanted nothing to do with prey distress from mid December to around early - midFeb. It makes no logical sense when this should be the best time as they should be hungry, right? Many people believe it is deer hunting pressure but I shot coyotes with prey-distress as part of my calling sequence through the end of deer season with little to no change in coyote behavior or attitude. Our seaons closes the last week of Nov, so I don't believe 3 weeks later, it would magically start to have an effect.

I believe it has something to do with their territorial/social attitude at this time of year. I will hopefully figure it out one of these days. About mid-Feb a switch got thrown and distress is working about as well as it typically does again for me. I will also say the more snow, the more multiples I call in. I have probably called in 15 or more packs of anywhere from 3 to 7 coyotes. 3 seems to be the most common size but lots of packs and I do believe this is due to the increased snow as I have seen coyotes chase deer herds through snow banks and pounce on them when a deer breaks through.

If you are refering to the night hunt described, I surely hope it will be on Predator Madness V. There are lots of journal entries (http://www.druryoutdoors.com/journal.php)for this year by me on the site. If it is a coyote journal entry, I believe I either shot it or filmed it on the journal currently. This years video is good (Predator Madness IV)and next years should be excellent. There are a few small Internet video samples of a few of the hunts at this link: http://www.jkoutdoorproducts.com/index.php?page=mods/Video/index. I created these small videos for the company that makes the night vision and scope camera I have been using. It can be a teaser for Predator Madness 5. Hunt #2 is the night hunt.

I have 4 more kills to post out on the Drury Journal. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a camera in the field as often as I would have liked but I am somewhere around 19 or 20 kills on camera so far this year with limited hunting and filming time. It is up to Drury's what they put on each video. To date, I have only had 1 or 2 kills not produced from Predator Madness III, and IV. Each video I end up with a few more kills. For III and IV, I literally shot my footage for both videos in about 1 month as my wife started a business and I didn't get to go out much and Drury's changed their production schedule so this is the first year I will have a longer time to get my footage captured and sent in for them. I am still new at the videography end of things but slowly getting better. To be honest, I almost get more of a rush behind the camera. I usually end up calling and filming which isn't easy and others get to take the shot.

Thanks for checking

03-08-2009, 11:26 AM
Korey, I had the chance to take a look at your videos on the site. Thanks for posting the link so we could all take peek. Videos were very entertaining to say the least.


03-09-2009, 09:56 AM
I think entertaining is good as long as you weren't laughing at how bad the hunter sounded, looked or shot :OUCH:

I am sure Drury Outdoors will do a better job than I did in editing as they do this for their business but J&K was happy with the ending videos and Drury's seem very excited to put some of these and many other of my coyote hunts on the next DVD. Thanks.