How To Hunt Coyotes At Night

A fierce, snarling coyote with mouth open and hackles up.

Why Hunt Coyotes?

Hunting coyotes is a very emotionally charged topic on both sides of the fence: the hunters and animal rights activists. While detractors of it claim that hunting coyotes actually increases the population, the science is much murkier than what you might think. 

The main reason people cite as to why hunting coyotes is beneficial is that it protects livestock. Coyotes killing livestock is a huge problem, especially out west where large unprotected herds are common.

The losses caused by coyote predation are enormous. In states like Utah, tens of thousands of sheep are killed every year by coyotes since sheep are one of their favorite animals to attack. 

In a reportOpens in a new tab. released in 2010 by the USDAOpens in a new tab., 0ver 219,900 cattle and calves were lost to predators in 2009. Out of that number, 116,700 fell victim to coyotes. Coyotes killed more cattle than mountain lions, bobcats, dogs, vultures, wolves, bears, and other predators combined.

In an additional reportOpens in a new tab. released by the USDAOpens in a new tab., it was noted that over 225,300 sheep and lambs were lost to predators in 2009.

Source: USDAOpens in a new tab.

Hunting coyotes can be beneficial to protect these herds. While it is true that coyotes are quite adaptable animals, the claim that the coyote population actually increases from hunting is false.

Coyotes can reproduce in larger numbers, and faster than normal, if their numbers do dwindle, and it would take a concerted effort by killing up to 70% of the local population to actually see them go away for good. But, hunting can reduce their numbers significantly and they will take some time to get back to their old strength. 

Another important reason more relevant to hunters is the fact coyotes love to eat small animals, and often times fawns are one of their favorite prey. The effect coyotes have on deer populations cannot be understated. In most states, fewer than 40% of a doe’s offspring will reach adulthood, and coyotes are known to cut this number in half. 

In short, killing large numbers of coyotes will not make a huge impact in the long term due to their ability to quickly reproduce. But, there are plenty of short term benefits to protect livestock and allow local deer populations to naturally increase their numbers. 

Do Coyotes Hunt At Night?

The short answer to that question is yes, but the long answer is it depends. Most of the time, coyotes hunt at night since they are nocturnal creatures. They can break this routine up if they are in an area with little to no human activity and they feel comfortable hunting during the day. 

They may also hunt during the day if they’ve just had a large litter of pups and need to acquire more food to feed them. Additionally, in colder weather, they may be more active during the day as a form of exercise to keep warm.

So yes, coyotes hunt at night, but depending on where you are or what they are doing, you can get lucky and spot them during the day too. I’ve personally spotted coyotes during the daytime quite a bit.

What Time Of Night Are Coyotes Most Active?

There a couple of good times to hunt coyotes depending on your style of hunting. If you aim to catch coyotes as they are leaving their resting spots during the day or going back to sleep, hunting at dusk and dawn would be best since you can easily catch them moving across wide, open areas to heavily wooded ones to find their prey. 

If you like to use calls, decoys, or bait, hunting in the middle of the night might be best since this is when coyotes are most active. However, during this time, they are also actively engaged in hunting themselves so they are much more cautious. 

Hunting times can also be affected by the lunar calendar. If there is a full moon and or a light of moonlight, coyotes are less inclined to be out during that time since they want to surprise their prey.

What Gear Do I Need To Hunt At Night?

Odor Control

Before you ever even enter the field, you should first wash your clothes with a strong anti-smell detergent. Why this is important is because of two reasons.

First of all, coyotes have an incredibly good sense of smell and they like to approach downwind of any call or sound they hear. That means if you are trying to bring them in, they will definitely smell you if you are not careful. 

There are plenty of options out there to make your clothes scent-free, and it is really up to personal preference. You can also try any one of a multitude of attractant scents or cover scents, but some of these have mixed reviews at best.

Light

Another smart investment would be a good hunting light or spotlight. Using a light is one of the most effective ways of hunting at night since you can scan for their eyes quickly which is the best giveaway that a coyote is there.

Depending on what you like, there are white, red, and green lights available for night hunting. They each have their own pros and cons, and it is up to each hunter as to what he or she prefers. 

You may also consider getting a separate light that is more utilitarian than a larger spotlight. A high lumen handheld flashlight can provide a lot of benefits, especially when you need to quickly scan.

Thermal???

If you really want to spend some money, you can pony up for a thermal scope. Thermal scopes are definitely on the upper end of the spectrum, but they provide an advantage like no other.

Chair

The last thing you might need is a good chair. Often times, coyotes will cross large, open fields or open patches of woods to move expeditiously to their next prey.

Sitting in a high deer stand is not going to be beneficial, especially at night, because you do not want to “skyline” yourself especially if there is any moonlight that night.

Being higher up also makes any accidental noise you make carry further, and sitting or laying on the ground makes a coyote much less likely to see you. 

Outside of the visual benefits, let’s be honest, you may be out there for a while and it is just more comfortable to have a place to sit down. There’s no shame in it.

What Is The Best Sound to Call In a Coyote?

The best calls are going to be similar to the kind of prey coyotes like to hunt. They usually go for small mammals like rabbits, rodents, and even frogs. There are a ton of predator calls on the market but when shopping around you should look for calls that mimic a rabbit or fox.

Be sure to check out our review on the FoxPro FX-7 Game Call.

How Far Can a Coyote Hear a Call?

Coyotes have superhuman hearing and they can pick up on a wide range of noises from insanely long distances. It is often quoted that they can hear any noise within a three to five-mile radius of them.

Some hunters have reported that coyotes can hear something as small as a mouse squeak call from almost a thousand yards away with no issue. That should give you an idea of their astuteness.

So, if you utilize a call and there are coyotes nearby, it is safe to say they will be able to hear it. There are a lot of calls that only claim a range of 500 yards. 

Will a .22 Kill a Coyote?

While a .22 LR is a more than capable caliber for small game, it should definitely not be used for hunting coyotes. The only way it would immediately kill a coyote is if you make a very accurate shot from a shorter distance.

The last thing you want to do is wound it and have it run away. This creates a scenario where the coyote may die later from blood loss or infection, which is something respectable hunters should avoid at all costs.

Will Coyotes Come Back After Being Shot At?

Normally, if you are hunting coyotes and miss your shot that is it. They are not going to come back. However, if you are using a call that is an entirely different story and you may still have a chance.

Many hunters report that even when missing their first shot, with an effective call, within minutes to an hour the coyotes will come back. While not a guarantee, it is something to try. 

Though it happens seldom, if you have the rare occasion to run into a pack while it is hunting they may follow you and are not afraid to do so. I have had a personal experience with a pack following myself and my friends after a night of hunting. They kept with us all the way back to our cabin.

It was a group of at least a dozen and we found their tracks within 30 yards of our cabin door the next morning. 

What Do You Do After You Shoot a Coyote?

If you want to sell the pelt for a bounty to a farmer or even the state, then you can skin it. You can also just sell the carcass to someone who would do it for you and collect the bounty as well (often at a cheaper price).

But, be careful whenever handling a coyote carcass. Like hogs, they are often covered in ticks and fleas looking for a warm host, like yourself. Make sure you check yourself thoroughly for any ticks after handling any dead coyotes. 

Conclusion

Hunting coyotes at night can be a very fun experience, especially in the off-season. You do need to think your hunt through which would mean a lot of prep work like scouting, scent control, getting a proper light, and picking a good spot in the daylight. You should also consider the time of the year and moonlight as this can change when coyotes are likely going to be out.

Most importantly, be safe and always practice good basic gun safety, especially at night. Be careful about any noise you make or smell you bring into the field as this will surely ruin an otherwise good hunt.

Outside of that, get out there and have fun! 

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