In most States and Provinces throughout North America coyotes can be hunted year round. In many of the areas coyotes can be hunted both day and night as well. By learning how to hunt coyotes at night, a hunter can hunt coyotes 24/7, 365 days a year. Night hunting for coyote, where legal, can be a very exciting and an extremely effective way to keep their population at bay. Here we will discuss tips and tactics on how to hunt coyotes at night.
Coyotes, like most predators are mainly nocturnal. They do the majority of their day to day activities at night like hunting, eating, breeding and establishing hierarchy. For this reason, hunting coyotes at night can be very fast paced as you see a lot more than during daylight hours. They also feel more secure at night knowing that humans, their only predator, are less active at night, so they tend to be a little less weary.
If you are hunting at night you will need a way to see the coyotes. The most practical tool for bringing light to the night is a high powered spotlight. These spotlights are extremely bright and will do a good job lighting up coyotes up to 400 yards, if you invest in a good one.
When using a spot light, animals that can see in the dark are very easy to see as their eyes make a very bright reflection, much like a light of their own. For this reason, you do not have to spend much time scanning an area to see if there are any coyotes nearby. All animal eyes have a certain glow to them when hit with an artificial light. It is important to be able to determine what type of animal is in your light before you start shooting as it can be hard to tell. Many times though it is easy enough to tell by just the eye reflection after you gain some experience. You will find that predator eyes are typically brighter than prey eyes. Be aware though, there are always variances in reflection strength and color, so be extremely sure of your target before aiming a weapon at it.
Most spotlighting is done from a vehicle where the spotlights are run off of 12 volt power out of the car cigarette lighter. It is also possible and popular to use a spotlight that runs off a rechargeable power supply. These spotlights are very nice to have, and in many states necessary, as to be legal the light needs to be powered by something else other than the vehicle. Check your local regulations to be sure of all laws pertaining to hunting with artificial lighting.
Calling Coyotes at Night
One of the most effective ways how to hunt coyotes at night is to use predator calls. Coyotes are out and about most at night and are more confident when coming in to calls than they are during the day. If you have experience calling to coyotes and other predators during the day, then you should have success with the same sounds during the night. Common sounds are prey in distress calls, mainly rabbit, bird sounds, and a number of coyote howls, yips, and distress calls.
Both mouth calls and electronic calls work well for hunting coyotes at night, with electronic calls giving you a significant advantage unless you are extremely skilled with a mouth call. Electronic predator calls are extremely loud, clear, and are typically actual voices of real life animals making them very believable to predators. Many coyotes come running in fully expecting to see what they are looking for without fear.
TIP: One thing about how to hunt coyotes at night is that you need to be ready at all times. It may take less than a minute before they are right on top of you. Therefore, make sure you are ready to shoot before you begin your call sequence. Likewise, not all coyotes come in at a full run; some come in casually. If you are in an area that sound can travel long distances, then it may take a while for the coyotes to get to your location. For these reasons, it is important to be patient. Give them plenty of time to come in are you will experience what most experienced coyote callers have and do when as soon as you get up you see a coyote running away. Other predators such as bobcats tend to come in even slower and more alert.
Best Times to Hunt Coyotes at Night
Most states allow coyote hunting at night all year round, but most people partake in coyote hunting during fur bearing seasons, which in most areas is the end of September through march, depending on the year. This does not mean you can’t or should not hunt them throughout the spring and summer, but this is when their hides will fetch the highest price.
The warmer weather can be some of the best times to call coyotes though, especially if your are just learning how to hunt coyotes at night. There is less competition during this time of year so coyotes are typically easier to bring in with predator calls.
During the winter, days getting shorter and night longer is one a major reason why many people hunt coyotes at night as well. When it gets dark at 4:30 in the evening, that does not leave much time for hunting coyotes during the daylight hours. If you want to try a few areas after work during the fall and winter, a spotlight might be your only option; and a good option it is. Learning how to hunt coyotes at night will open up a lot more hunting opportunities for someone who would like to get out more often.
Gear You Will Need
There are a few gear items needed to hunt coyotes at night in addition to the typical necessities of day time coyote hunting.
Rifle: Just about any rifle will do the trick for coyotes. These dogs are smaller than one might think with, with a 30 pounder being a big one. They are also soft skinned, so a big bullet is not necessary and will destroy the hide much worse than a smaller one. My personal opinion is that a 243 caliber rifle is the perfect coyote rifle. It is flat and fast shooting, with enough weight to carry the bullet for longer distance shooting. Also, you can find ammo at any sporting goods store and a.243 makes a good caliber for white tailed deer, hogs, and antelope, without much recoil.
Spot Light: Artificial lights can be a number of brands. Spotlights that have the ability to control the light spread are nice as they let you use a flood light for scanning and then dial it in to a beam to determine what you see. It is best to have both a 12 volt light that operates from a vehicle power source/cigarette lighter and a rechargeable spotlight for when you get out of the vehicle. Also, you may want to purchase a red filter (cover) which turns your light beam red. Predators do not see red so they will be unaware that they are getting blasted by a spotlight. Even without the filter, many times they do not even care and keep on coming in.
Predator Calls: There are a number of predator calls that you may choose to use. Electronic calls work the best. Mouth calls such as reed and diaphragm calls work well but make sure you practice before you go out as these calls take time to perfect. Check the last paragraph for specifics on the best calls to use.
We will discuss specific equipment in more detail below.
Be Ready for Anything
One thing to remember when you hunt coyotes at night is that like coyotes, other predators are most active at night as well. For this reason, you should be ready for whatever you may see. Foxes, bobcats, lynx, and other predators are all good animals to take as an addition to coyote hunting at night. In some areas, it is even legal to take cougars at night and hopefully soon, wolves in some states. For this reason, you need to be ready and legally prepared to hunt these animals as well. Check your local regulations as some of these animals may require special licenses and permits. You do not want to have to pass up a predator because you failed to get a tag for it, or even worse because you were not sure whether or not it is legal.