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Predator Master

The coyote, Mr. canis latrans, is the number one target of the predator caller. For what it's worth, I think the coyote is the most intelligent animal on the face of the earth. Depending on just whom you talk to. . . some people hate this animal, while others like myself, think of him as a magnificent creature worthy of the highest respect. Given half a chance, this crafty critter can make a fool out of the most experienced caller on the planet, let alone someone new to the sport of calling.

The coyote can be found throughout most of North and South America. There are some 17 recognized subspecies of coyotes throughout their established range. . . some argue there are even more to be added to the list. Any way you add it up, the coyote is here to stay and brings with him tons of heart pumping excitement. Coyotes vary in size depending on the area where you find them. Coyotes found in the Southwest deserts normally weigh from 20 to 30 lbs., while their cousins in the higher and northern elevations can weigh as much as 50 lbs. or more. Ounce for ounce, the coyote is perhaps the most efficient predator/scavenger to ever walk this land, as he continues to expand his territory. Coyotes mate in the early spring (late February - March) the pups are born some 63 days later. Both the male and female take a very active role in raising the pups and it's not uncommon for other pack members to get involved in raising the pups too.

I myself make it a practice to stop calling when the coyotes enter the mating season and don't begin calling until again until late fall. This concept gives the coyote population a chance to raise their young unmolested from hunting pressure and insures plenty of critters to call in the future. This self-imposed calling season has worked well for me over the years and I always urge all predator callers to please do the same.

Now getting to the subject of calling coyotes. . .

Finding an area to call coyotes is a never-ending quest, depending on were you live, this task can be a piece of cake or an adventure in itself. Coyotes are social animals and they are very vocal about it. A good caller will use these traits to help locate a good area to call coyotes. Coyotes are territorial critters, meaning they like to cut out a certain piece of real estate and call it home, and they don't like strangers roaming around in their backyard.

Next to hunting up their next meal, coyotes spend a great deal of time cruising the boundaries of their home range, looking for signs of intruders, and marking their territory. To mark the boundaries of their territory, coyotes establish scent posts that they visit routinely and will urinate and leave scat to warn other coyotes to stay out of the area.

What all this activity amounts to is basically a NO TRESPASSING - KEEP OUT sign for coyotes. All this may not sound like much to us humans but to coyotes. . .this is a very big deal. A caller looking for coyotes must keep a sharp eye out for these scent posts, or markers, for a coyote will update these locations with new scent frequently. Be sure to check old roads, trails, and ridgelines for coyote droppings with accompanying scratch marks made by the hind legs. You find this and you're in coyote country for sure. Of course finding coyote tracks is a sure indication of coyotes, but in some areas, dogs are common too, so relying on tracks to find coyotes in some situations can be misleading, especially back East.

Coyotes are very vocal animals and just about everyone has heard the howl of this wonderful animal. Believe it or not, coyotes can communicate with other coyotes. What may sound like just a howl or a bark to us humans, is really thought-provoking stuff to a coyote. Researchers have identified at least 11 different vocalizations that coyotes use to communicate with each other. A good coyote caller will use the coyote's own language against him to locate the animal's general location.

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