One of the best times of year to call coyotes in Illinois starts one week after the last deer gun season and lasts until the end of February. This is a good time to call coyotes for several reasons; it is coyote mating season, it is cold, which requires the coyote to seek more food. They require two and a half pounds of food per day just to exist. Finally, the gut piles from deer season have already been consumed which forces the coyotes to look harder for food, the easy meals are gone. All of which makes a coyote more susceptible to calling.
Understanding these seasonal needs can increase a caller’s success rate. With this in mind, my calling partner Ray and I took a few days off work in late January to try our luck in Lee and Bureau Counties in Illinois. We made sixteen stands (calling location) and we were able to call in thirteen coyotes. Of that, we harvested eleven and four of the coyotes weighed over forty pounds.
One day we started just outside of a State Park and very close to a small town. After our first series of calls (howls), we had two coyotes respond. They kept coming until they were in a deep ditch about 150 yards away. That is when a local resident decided to start his truck for his drive to work. We never saw the coyotes after that commotion.
We then headed to a second location where we had seen a large coyote the day before. We set up next to some large hale bales and within a few minutes of our first series of calls, the wind shifted to the Northeast, which was bad for this location. Coyotes will always try to get downwind of your calling sounds to confirm with their nose what they hear with their ears. At this location it would allow the coyote to get downwind of us without us being able to see him.
Ray and I discussed our options and decided to move so that we could cover the downwind side. As we stood up, I noticed a coyote coming to the call from about 900 yards out. I crossed the fence, sat down and waited for the coyote to show himself. When he was about 600 yards out, I howled at him with a hand held call, and he immediately started in my direction. When he was about 200 yards out, he stopped because of a school bus on a township road behind us. The bus started to leave and I made a fawn in distress sound on the hand call. He responded immediately and closed the distance to about 100 yards. I took a shot and hit a small limb that I could not see in the scope. The coyote ran into a ditch and emerged at about 400 yards. I was going to bark him to a stop when all of a sudden; he stopped to see what had just happened. I dropped him with one shot from my Remington 700 in 20Tac (wildcat cartridge). He weighed 45-1/2 pounds which is my largest to date.
Coyote numbers are increasing rapidly in Illinois and can inflict a great deal of damage on local wildlife. Do your landowner and your local deer herd a favor and give coyote calling a try. When you get that first one to respond you will be hooked for life.
My partner and I are licensed to remove problem coyotes and hunt them year round. I have been calling them for 23 years and have found no greater challenge.