Stalking Wiley

My favorite style of hunting is spot-and-stalk. I have hunted deer, elk, bears, and turkeys with this method. I enjoy the added challenge of trying to sneak in close to an animal undetected. It is the closest thing to being a true predator, and for me the experience is exhilarating even when a stalk doesn’t work out.

Recently, I have added coyotes to my spot-and-stalk quarry. These canines are smart, wary, and ever alert to threats, which makes this method extremely difficult. But when it works out it is very rewarding.

Last weekend I headed for the rocky badlands of Eastern Washington, partly in search of shed antlers, but also hoping to find a coyote or two. My husband and I had been to this particular area a few times before and had heard coyotes howling, but had yet to see one of them. With us that day we had two of our dogs. The idea was that if a coyote were in the vicinity, it would be more focused on the dogs than on us and would offer a shot opportunity.

After an unproductive calling session, I was working my way through some sagebrush in search of antlers when I caught sight of a light patch in a distant hillside field. Through my binoculars, I could see that it was a coyote and he was looking in my direction. He was over 1000 yards away, so I knew there was no way I could take a shot from there. Except for some variations in the terrain, there was no cover at all between Wily and me. My only chance at a shot was to close the distance or hope that he would come in closer, which I thought was unlikely since I figured he had already seen me. I decided to attempt a stalk to see if I could get within shooting range.

Using the tiny hills, sagebrush, and rocks for cover, I hunkered down and slunk closer, trying to keep my eye on the coyote as I moved. To my surprise, he started moving down the field toward me. My Scottish terrier Dolly followed me, working her way through the brush looking for gophers and mice, completely unaware of anything else.

As I continued to work my way toward the coyote, I lost sight of him. For a couple of minutes, I had no idea where he had gone. Had he caught my wind and run off? The wind was blowing in his general direction…. Then, suddenly, he popped into view again and it appeared that he was looking directly at me. I was still about 350 yards away. It would be a long shot, but with a solid shooting rest it was within a range that I felt comfortable using my .22-250. As he sat watching in my direction, I flattened myself out on a small mound and worked my way on my belly to the edge while Dolly continued to run obliviously around near me. I couldn’t tell if the coyote was watching me or her, but I suspect he had seen her and was trying to figure out exactly what she was and if she would make a tasty meal.

When I reached the top of the mound I steadied my rifle for a shot. The coyote was facing towards me, still just sitting and looking in my direction. I held my crosshairs on him, waiting for him to turn and give me a broadside shot. For what seemed like an eternity, he just sat there. My finger was on the trigger, just waiting for him to turn. Then I realized he was sitting near a hill and if he moved at all, he could potentially disappear from sight. If I wanted to get a shot, I had to take it now.

Knowing my rest was solid, I started squeezing the trigger. The rifle barked and I instantly heard the rewarding “Whop!” as the bullet hit its mark. The coyote jumped about six feet and disappeared. It looked to me like he had dropped, but the contours of the terrain made it difficult to tell for sure.

Dolly and I worked our way toward where I had last seen Wily while my husband and our other dog, Remington, came to join in the search. The rolling terrain made it difficult to pinpoint exactly where the coyote had last been seen but it wasn’t long before Remmie’s keen nose led us to his final resting place. He was the third coyote I’d taken by the spot-and-stalk method this winter.

Coyote hunting can be extremely exciting; outsmarting these cagey creatures is tough. Spot-and-stalk hunting adds a new level of challenge and a change of pace to the usual method of calling. It will test and sharpen your skills as a predator; skills that will make you a much better hunter when you go out after bigger game.

If you get an opportunity to try your hand at this method of coyote pursuit, I highly recommend it. You may find is as addictive as I have!



Apr 05, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 2


2 comments on “Stalking Wiley

  1. Tom Payton

    Very cool. Just started Coyote hunting this year. Haven’t harvested on yet but , I will ! Cool article.

  2. Thia

    Thanks, Tom and good luck with your coyote hunting!! I hope to see some pictures of your successes!!!


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