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Coyotes Hunting

Downwind Dogs: Tactics for Defeating A Coyote’s Nose

by Gary Lewis   |  February 7th, 2012 0

An evening hunt with a commitment to camouflage and scent control paid off with a look at this coyote in the scope. Photo by Gary Lewis.

The coyotes got Rex’s goat. Literally.

My friend Rex keeps a small herd of goats and sheep and a dozen chickens on his 10-acre slice of the American Dream. He called one winter afternoon.

We set up at the top of a rim, with a view into the junipers. I placed my AR-15 on its bipod. Rex and eight-year-old Ethan took up position on my left.

I had the FoxPro caller next to me. I didn’t want to risk my scent in the area by setting the call in the open. We had an hour before dark and time to think. Something Gary Madison said came to mind.

Madison, of Burns, Ore., has hunted coyotes for 60 years and won a number of calling contests. “People tend to focus on calling and they underestimate the craftiness of the coyote. The actual calling is only 10 percent of making a successful hunt,” Madison said.

A good olfactory sense is a coyote’s best defense. When a coyote inhales, it draws in airborne molecules that help it sort a complex array of odors that include food signals and threats.

Our challenge is to beat a coyote’s defenses. We succeed when we go beyond the 10 percent that is the calling and work to dispel human scents in every setup we make.

By managing our scent, we were able to call a coyote out of the canyon. After 52 minutes, the coyote showed on my left. He moved at a trot through the sagebrush, visible in the gloom.

He stopped. The tip of the Trijicon’s fiber-optic triangle found the dog’s head. I felt the trigger move through its first stage then tighten into the second stage. Orange bloomed in the scope.

There are still coyotes in the canyon, but there is one less whose howls will wake the barnyard in the night.

Scent can be covered to some degree, confusing a coyote’s ability to sort through odors and detect human threat, but a better start is to control scent prior to the application of covers. By eliminating degrees of odor, we diminish the scent spread on swirling breezes.

Human scent is carried on clothing and gear. It emanates from gun oils and fabrics; it manifests on hats and the soles of our feet. Every step we take to eliminate scent is a small victory.

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