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Howling for Coyotes

By Todd Sullivan
Dogbreath Coyote Calls

To howl or not to howl that is always the question debated between coyote hunters. Some hunters swear by it and others shudder at the thought of howling. Some coyote hunters use a howl on every stand while others are convinced howling scares more coyotes away.

Coyote hunting is a unique hunting sport in that coyote callers try to provoke a response by mimicking a sound of a food source like a dying rabbit. This is akin to a deer hunter making the sound of acorns falling to the ground. All other sports that use sounds to call game mimic sounds used by the intended prey. It only makes sense that coyote vocalizations will bring in coyotes.

Howls can provoke both a territorial response and a social response. Howls can agitate and incite a dominant coyote to advance in an effort to protect or defend its territory. Howls can be used to attract members of the opposite sex. Coyotes are extremely territorial especially during mating season and do not allow other coyotes to violate their hunting or breeding grounds. Howls can be used to pull a breeding male or female coyote into shooting range. Howls are often used to initiate a response when scouting for future hunts or to help a hunter determine the best set up position by identifying the location of one or more coyotes.

Coyotes will not always respond to your howls by howling back. Sometimes coyotes will boldly and aggressively respond to a howl or silently approach in an almost submissive posture. This lack of response doesn’t mean that they are not in the area and you won’t be able to call them in. Younger coyotes afraid of a whipping may be silent as they approach slowly and with caution. Non-established coyotes, young coyotes or less dominant coyotes may silently move closer without any indication vocally that they are there. On the other hand, an Alpha male all bristled up and looking for a fight may aggressively come in howling, yipping and barking.

There are several kinds of howls used by coyotes for communication. Some of the more common howls used by hunters are the lone howl or invitational howl, the bark howl and the territorial howl.

The Lone Howl or Invitational Howl

This is more of a long drawn out higher pitched howl which sounds non-aggressive and non-threatening. It often starts with a hello bark or two before the howl begins. This can get a response from other lesser coyotes looking for companionship or from a dominate coyote who aggressively threatens to run the lesser coyote out of their territory. This howl can be used year around and a good sequence for this howl would be to start out with a couple of friendly invitational howls followed with some distress sounds like a rabbit distress.

The Bark Howl

Both dominant male and females will use this howl. This type of howl is a raspy deep- throated sound at a much lower pitch than an invitational howl. This is an aggressive howl often used in conjunction with aggressive barking. This is both a challenging and a threatening howl. The reply of a bark howl can often be in response to a hunter using an invitational howl especially during mating season. This howl can be used to challenge a mating pair or a dominate coyote provoking them to come closer.

The Territorial Howl

This is a deeper and more aggressive howl that starts out as a deeper and throatier howl that tends to cut off rather than tail away like a friendlier invitational howl. Although not as aggressive as a bark howl it is usually heard in response to a possible territorial dispute. It can be described as a deep throated howl similar to the bark howl without the bark. This is a good locator howl because other coyotes often respond to let their position be known. If aggressiveness escalates this howl frequently turns into a bark howl. This escalation to a bark howl is a good sign that this coyote is willing to move forward looking for a confrontation. This is a good time to get ready.

Howling for coyotes can bring a new level of success and excitement to your coyote hunting. It’s hard to beat the excitement and adrenaline pump caused by hearing and then seeing a big bristled up alpha male coyote as he comes in all riled up and looking for a fight in response to your howling.