Improve Your Turkey Hunting Odds By Spring Coyote Hunting
When two gobbling toms rumbled the early morning spring woods, my late friend and I decided we would have the best chance if we split the difference between the roosted birds. After quietly making our way down a wooded fence row, we made it within one hundred yards of each tom, then proceeded to get into position to begin calling.
As the sun lit up the spring woods, I knew it wouldn’t be long until we heard the beat of wings as the two toms flew off the roost. I amped up my calling by cutting and imitating a fly-down cackle on an H.S. Strut diaphragm call to entice them into coming closer. After a short time, we heard the anticipated sound of a turkey flying down and landing in the leaves. A few seconds later, I spotted one of the toms strutting his way down the hill toward the sound of my calls. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the approaching longbeard, my friend stayed motionless as the other tom was still roosting a mere sixty yards in his direction. Trying to stay still, I was baffled when the gobbler heading in my direction suddenly went out of strut, then quickly went the opposite way, eventually out of sight. While trying to figure out what had gone wrong so quickly, I suddenly caught movement a few yards to my front. My instincts took over when I saw a coyote approaching where my tom once stood. After folding the coyote in his tracks, my twelve-gauge shotgun echoed through the bottom ridge. Unfortunately, the echoing of my gun resulted in the tom in front of my friend going silent until it eventually flew off the roost in the opposite direction.
If one has vast turkey hunting experience, it is easy to relate to the heartbreak and the aggravation my friend and I felt after a coyote ruined our morning of tagging a gobbler. Many turkey hunters have had coyotes attack their decoys or, as with our hunt, charge between the hunter who has been calling and the gobbling tom who is not too far ahead. Even though coyotes can be highly frustrating when turkey hunting, it is mother nature’s way for them to find an easy meal during the spring of the year.
A coyote’s breeding season typically occurs from late January through mid-March. Once a female has been successfully bred, she has a gestation period of around sixty days before having her pups. With the peak of the breeding season occurring in mid-February, that would make their young scheduled to arrive mid-April to early May. Days before a female gives birth, and through the first several days of the young coyote pups being born, the mother’s requirement for more food increases drastically. During this period, it is typical for the male coyote to be a bit more aggressive as he is hunting for food for the mother and her pups. This is the reason for the increased coyote activity while hunters try to harvest a spring turkey. To help boost the odds for a spring gobbler and prevent coyotes from ruining a turkey hunt, it is vital to spend the month before the season hunting and calling coyotes. When coyotes are in search of extra food to prepare the female coyote for birth and later feed the young themselves, response rates to calls can be highly effective.
When hunting coyotes in March, it is imperative to focus on the territorial sounds they make, which symbolize the protectiveness of the area around their den sites, and the sounds of an easy meal. Using coyote vocals such as challenge and territorial howls signal to other coyotes that the area is theirs. If resident coyotes have settled themselves, they often will respond to see who has invaded their area. As for food source sounds, many animals also have their young in early spring. For that reason, using sounds such as baby cottontail, baby birds, and fawn distress all work excellently because they are the natural sounds heard in the wild at that particular time.
Due to the increased aggravation that male coyotes often have before their mate has pups, finding areas near a den can be ideal for hunting. As a good scouting tool, I have often placed one or two Muddy Outdoors Manifest 2.0 Cellular Cameras near areas where I plan to turkey hunt or where I suspect a den is located. When coyotes begin showing up on my cameras, I move in as quickly as possible and try to make a harvest. While finishing up the last portion of the coyote hunting season, focus on den areas and coyotes near a turkey hunting spot. By doing so, I have found that I have less pressure from predators when spring turkey season arrives in mid-April; less pressure from nearby coyotes means calling a gobbler into close range becomes less complicated.