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As one of North America’s most pervasive carnivores, coyotes are known for being cautious, dauntless, and evasive. They can devour almost anything, including fish, rabbits, frogs, deer, and more.
In the US, coyote populations are hitting an all-time high. This increase leads to a lower deer population and also dangerous diseases. Hunting coyotes may be a great way to protect livestock, control the population, and help farmers, ranchers, and the environment.
But the question is, is it legal to hunt them? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about hunting coyotes and the best areas to hunt them.
Coyote hunting is legal in most states for all 12 months of the year. These states include Nevada, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. Typically, the hunting season for coyotes runs from October to March.
In most states, hunting on Sundays is prohibited. In addition, most of these states have the same rules regarding coyote hunting, such as the hunting hours, required licenses and permits, bag limits, hunting methods, and more.
Typically, hunting hours for coyotes begin half an hour before sunrise and end at midnight, except during pheasant, quail, or shotgun deer season. Residents must obtain a hunting or sporting license to hunt coyotes in the respective states. Meanwhile, non-residents must own small game or game licenses.
Most states don’t have bag limits for coyotes and require that you only hunt coyotes with shotguns, rifles, handguns, archery equipment, and muzzleloaders. Legal hunting methods include electronic calls, manual calls, and dogs, all of which are prohibited during shotgun deer season. In that case, hunters may use decoys and bait.
The coyotes in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Central America mostly live in the countryside but adapt to city life since humans are now interfering in their habitats.
They usually live in areas where they can hunt animals like birds and mice. Bushy areas near streams or marshy swamps may be some of the best places to find coyotes. Below are some of the states in the US where you can easily hunt coyotes.
There aren’t many regulations in terms of hunting coyotes in Nevada. There isn’t a limited number of coyotes you can hunt in a day, nor any strict rules related to weapons use. But in case you do skin your coyote kill and plan to earn some profit from it, having a trapping license is necessary. The trapping license also permits you to lay coyote traps.
It’s important to note that if you capture any other animal in your coyote trap, including a lion, you must release it. This is because only coyotes can be killed if trapped.
If you don’t have a license, there are several other ways to hunt coyotes. For example, you can bait or use dogs and decoys at night, but only in some states.
In Kansas, the coyote mating season commonly begins around February and March, which makes it a perfect time to head out for coyote hunts. In addition, coyotes aren’t legally labeled as furbearers within Kansas, so you can simply hunt them all year long.
One of the best things about coyote hunting in Kansas is that their population has expanded over the entire state, making the game available for everyone in every season. Both hand or electronic, you can find predator calls in nearly any outdoor store, and experts observed both of these calls to be effective in the field. The best time for hunting coyotes is early morning or past evening hours.
Nebraska encompasses some of the best coyote habitats in the country. However, if you’re looking forward to hunting coyotes here, you must be careful about these laws and guidelines.
In Colorado, coyotes are categorized as furbearers and small game. This makes it easier to hunt coyotes in Colorado under many circumstances legally. In Colorado, hunters can use handguns, rifles, shotguns, or crossbows.
Luckily, there are no restrictions on the number of coyotes you may hunt in Colorado. This makes Colorado the best state to practice your hunting skills and gun capabilities with this overpopulated species.
Coyotes are categorized as predators in Wyoming. According to Wyoming laws, you can hunt the coyotes all year, and no license is required. But the hunters must abide by all legal guidelines relating to hunting wildlife, including the prohibition of hunting from roads, fulfilling hunter protection requirements, etc.
Night hunting isn’t allowed if you’re on public land. This is because Wyoming regulations prohibit taking the life of wildlife using artificial lights or lighting fixtures devices. But if you’re on your private land, you can use the lights for hunting animals categorized as predators, even at night, with written permission from the landowner.
Fall is typically considered the best time to hunt coyotes as the weather is ideal and coyotes are anxious to be called. In addition, young coyote pups tend to come out on their own this season, which is why you may have more luck. During this season, it’s best to use prey distress calls to lure out coyotes.
Predator hunters tend to hunt coyotes in the winter as their pelts are furred up, and coyotes spend more time in the sun, looking for food. At this time, food is scarce, which makes coyotes more active in the daytime. It’s worth noting that February 15th is considered to be the peak of the breeding season.
By spring, coyotes become territorial and start working on dens, so it’s best to use coyote vocals for calls this season. It’s also important to be patient while coyote hunting in spring. You may even have to sit on the stand for 30 minutes at a time.
Summer is typically an unfit time to hunt coyotes. However, when it comes to the time of day, hunting early in the morning is always successful. Coyotes are most active in the early morning and late evening, and they will respond to a siren or howl. Coyotes also respond better through the break of dawn through 11:00 AM or so.
There are various ways to legally hunt coyotes, such as calling, baiting, and using certain weapons.
Coyotes are smart predators, so calling them can be exhilarating. However, over-calling or calling incorrectly can result in “call-shy” coyotes, so you must be careful with your calls. You may use electronic, diaphragm, prey distress, or coyote calls while coyote hunting.
Electronic calls imitate animal noises perfectly; you can place them on decoys or upwind where a coyote is headed. That’s because coyotes typically hunt their game from downwind. In addition, electronic calls allow beginners to trick coyotes with more realistic, consistent call sounds.
As a predator hunter, you can expand your strategy by combining various electronic, diaphragm, and reed calls. Invest in expensive electronic calls to load more sounds onto them.
Diaphragm calls are ideal for hunters on the go, mimicking prey distress calls or coyote howls, barks, and growls. It’s best to use diaphragm calls instead of other calls to make a more dynamic hunting setup. However, coyotes can sense human error if you don’t utilize these calls expertly.
Make sure to do your homework before moving your hunting to the next step with the help of diaphragm calls. YouTube channels and instructional resources are great ways to learn.
As the name suggests, a prey distress call mimics an animal in distress, expertly luring the coyote. For example, a prey distress call could mimic the sound of a bird caught in a fence or a rabbit caught by another coyote. You must ensure the calls aren’t repetitive, as animals make different sounds while in distress. Various calls will mimic all ranges of distressed animals, like rabbits, rodents, birds, cats, and fawns.
Coyotes are highly vocal during their mating season, so predator hunters like to use coyote calls in the winter. These calls may signal many things, but primarily, they challenge a coyote’s territorial instinct. Therefore, it’s best to use male coyote barking and howling calls.
Of course, coyotes don’t pass up the chance of a free meal, so distress pup calls may also work in April and May when pups are born. Using a pup distress call in January will only make coyotes wary of hunters in the area, so staying realistic is crucial.
Coyote hunting is typically unrestrictive, especially when choosing weapons to hunt them with. From traditional bows to AR15s, it’s legal to use just about any form of weapon to shoot them. These laws may vary by state, but only slightly.
Before heading out to hunt coyotes, you must check local laws on what kind of guns are legal to use and the time of day and year limits. Most states allow you to hunt coyotes all year-round, with no limit on firearms or night vision scopes.
Experienced hunters use a combination of firearm styles, so it’s better to consider the type of shooting before picking your weapon. Since coyotes are typically found on open terrains, you’ll be making far shots. Therefore, a deer rifle is ideal, such as a flat-shooting .223 caliber rifle.
However, we also recommend the Remington 700 ADL Varmint Matte Black Bolt Action Rifle or Ruger Hawkeye Limited Edition Satin Blued Bolt Action Rifle.
Hunting coyotes only gets easier when you get the hang of baiting. The first baiting trick to keep in mind while hunting coyotes is to give them an offer they can’t refuse. Baiting coyotes is legal in most states, don’t hesitate to use frozen deer-meat bait piles to your benefit.
It also helps to pack venison scraps, top them off with water, and freeze them, but it takes some time and lots of bait to build the coyote’s confidence. The setup also matters. Instead of placing the bait as close to the coyote’s bedding area as possible, position yourself in an elevated tree stand or a ground blind no less than 75 yards downwind from the bait.
This way, you’re a safe distance away in case a coyote circles downwind before taking the bait. Once you condition them to the bait, they may even give up the wind to come into it.
The main question a beginner may ask is, “Why should I hunt coyotes?” Hunting coyotes isn’t just a sport; it helps the environment and other small game in more ways than you think. Here are a few practical reasons to hunt coyotes legally and safely.
Coyotes don’t have much competition, substantially causing their population to grow yearly. They adapt, reproduce, and repeat.
Even if you deplete their food source, coyotes are intelligent predators that migrate to new locations with new food sources. They’re not picky regarding food, even eating trash, cat food, and full-grown deer.
Areas overpopulated with coyotes contain litters of four pups, which are ready to mate at 20 months. An average coyote lives up to 10 years, and a female coyote can potentially birth over 120 coyotes in its lifetime.
As a result, the coyote population can grow exponentially if left unchecked. Hunting can help manage the coyote population to prevent them from expanding their territory and reproducing.
Coyote hunting is legal all year round; Michigan doesn’t even have a kill limit for coyotes. This helps hunters stay occupied all year round and alleviate the postseason blues when ice fishing isn’t cutting it. In addition, hunting coyotes with centerfire rifles can help you go out and stay active even when it isn’t deer or wolf hunting season.
It also lets hunters get familiar with the area and know the open terrains better while hunting small game, such as wild turkeys. This way, you’ll be better prepared when deer and wolf hunting season finally rolls around. Your eyes will be on the lookout, and your ears will be alert to every minor sound.
Coyotes breed from January through March, with a gestation period lasting 60 days. Male coyotes hunt in the spring and bring back game for the female coyote and pups. As a result, whitetail, mule deer fawns, and elk calves are all born in spring, making coyotes responsible for 86% of annual white-tailed deer fawn mortality.
Coyotes prefer to hunt fawns due to their lack of strength, speed, toughness, and weight of 6–8 pounds. On average, adult cottontail rabbits weigh 2.6 pounds, and coyotes eat 2–3 pounds daily. Typically, coyotes eat smaller game but settle for fully grown big game animals like deer, elk, and moose in winter when food sources are scarce.
Hunting coyotes can protect whitetail, mule deer fawns, cottontail rabbits, and elk calves.
Coyote hunting makes you a better hunter in general since it requires you to be aware of every aspect of the hunt. That includes the camo you wear and the movements and sounds you make. By blending into the wildlife environment, you must become a predator to hunt coyotes expertly.
Coyotes are intelligent predators, which means they learn fast, adapt quickly, and have great eyesight and an impeccable sense of smell. So, ruining your hunt can be as simple as the coyote identifying a fake call or picking up your scent.
Since coyote hunting is legal all year round, it helps you hone your hunting skills off-season and show off your expertise when wolf and deer hunting seasons roll around.
Coyotes spread diseases like canine hepatitis and canine distemper. For example, domestic dogs inhale canine distemper, which has a high mortality rate. Moreover, coyotes can even transmit rabies and tularemia to humans and other animals while carrying parasites such as mites, ticks, fleas, worms, and flukes.
Coyotes can also contract tuberculosis by feeding on infected animals such as bears and raccoons. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is also spread through coyote feces and urine. Hunting coyotes can prevent the spread of such diseases.
Coyote hunting only gets easier if you blend into the environment seamlessly and recognize the perfect times to call, bait, and shoot. Here are a few tips to remember while coyote hunting.
Since coyotes are present in 49 states of America, hunters look forward to managing the ever-growing population across the country. Now that you know your state’s coyote hunting methods, tips, and legal status, you’re all set to book the next season.
Featured Image Credit: CLP Media, Shutterstock
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Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.
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