Mark Zepp's Tactics for Hunting Coyotes in Lousy Weather
Do you know how to call predators when the weather sucks?
You don’t always get to pick the days you hunt, so you have to make the most of those days, even if it means bundling up and braving adverse weather conditions that keep other hunters buttoned up at home.
Rain, snow, wind or a combination of any or all of those?
The key, according to Realtree pro-staffer Mark Zepp, is to go hunting anyway.
“Maybe you only have one or two days a week to hunt or maybe one or two days a month to hunt and you know the weather isn’t always going to cooperate,” Zepp said. “So it doesn’t matter to me whether you are deer hunting or coyote hunting or whatever, the only thing you know for certain is they’re not coming to you in your living room on that couch.”
Hunting Rainy Days
Zepp said he’s read and heard it all about how coyotes won’t come to a call in the rain. Internet forums, for example, often feature comments saying you can’t call in coyotes on rainy days, but don’t try to convince him, he has video proof you can call them in on rainy days. (He sells his own predator, raccoon and deer calls, all of this own design, DVDs, cool leather gear and other products on his website.) He said he has videos of coyotes “coming in on rainy days and you can hardly hear what’s going on because the speaker on the camera is getting rained on so hard.”
Those who say it can’t be done, well, they’re “just people who are giving opinions you really don’t need to be listening to,” he said. Maybe they’ve made one or two stands when it’s been raining and they haven’t had any luck, he said, but perhaps there were reasons other than the weather why coyotes didn’t respond. There are always plenty of reasons coyotes don’t respond or, at least, you don’t see them. Perhaps there were no coyotes in the area to begin with, or any of a number of other reasons, so “it wouldn’t have mattered if it was a beautiful day,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s no fun to be out there when it’s pouring rain,” he said. “And that’s not the optimal time, for sure, but they will come.” Who are you going to believe, anonymous Internet-forum chatters or someone who has hunted coyotes for decades?
Calling Coyotes Across Water
Just like reading that coyotes won’t cross rivers or creeks to come to a call. Coyotes crossing water in response to his call on his DVDs prove otherwise. And, he said, Randy Anderson has videos of coyotes “darn near swimming” toward him, responding to his calling. “That’s one of the biggest values of DVDs,” Zepp said. “You can pick up a lot on the body language; you can see coyotes coming in in a lot of different weather and different situations.”
Hunting coyotes in good weather has its own problems to consider. “There are mornings or afternoons that are so calm you have to carefully watch every footstep or fence crossing because critters can hear those things from such a long way off,” Zepp said.
But inclement weather flips to the other side of the coin. “In poorer weather, your sound will not carry as far so find pockets were the wind and weather are not quite as bad, and call those spots,” he said. “I always think high winds are much more of a hindrance than rain or snowfall.”
“You need maximum volume in most of those situations,” he said. “It’s the reason I designed our Rattler series of calls, which have two reeds in them. We were the first to do that and then many others copied that design. And, I tell folks our Kill Pole Howler is a tool for many of those higher-wind situations when predators simply cannot hear you calling.”
Hunting High Winds
But even Zepp has his limits. There is a point when he won’t venture out, sometimes.
“If it is just high, driving wind, I don’t go,” he said. Zepp’s threshold is 25 mph, but he’s hunted in higher wind, up to 40 mph at times.
On such windy days, he said, you should find out-of-the-wind spots, pockets, bowls, canyons, the sort of areas that provide protection from the wind for wildlife, and you. When it’s windy, he said, “you spend a lot of time spinning your wheels and wasting your time but when you’ve only got that day to hunt …”
“The sun can’t always be at your back and the wind in your face,” he said. “Those are great days when things are going right, but there’s plenty of time when the sun’s not right and winds are kind of iffy.”
What do you do on those iffy days? Dress for success and go hunting anyway.
What to Wear
You can dress for the weather and be fairly well protected from wind, rain or snow, so you are at least not completely miserable. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but you can tough it out. And, yes, it’s tough on your equipment too. “I’m like everyone else,” Zepp said. “I don’t like cleaning my guns after being out in the rain. And I don’t like having to worry about expensive video cameras when we’re out there in the rain.” Well, at least not all coyote hunters have to worry about expensive video cameras.
With today’s waterproof fabrics and warm insulation, it is relatively easy to prepare for whatever weather is thrown at you. There is a host of choices of camouflaged rain wear and cold-weather gear, all in your favorite Realtree pattern to match the season. We can add layers to make us more comfortable, whereas coyotes “have the ultimate fabric, that big old fur coat,” he said.
“I’m not talking about going hunting when it’s raining three inches an hour,” Zepp said. “But if it’s misting out there or lightly raining and I have the day off or I’m somewhere on a hunt, I’ve got my cameras wrapped in plastic and we’re going.” Coyote contest or tournament contestants don’t get to pick when the event is scheduled and schedulers can’t predict the weather. If they want to compete, they hunt.
Another reason to hunt crappy weather? “There’s not that many people out doing that, hunting in the rain or hunting in the driving snow or hunting on bad days,” he said. Rather than sitting on the couch, “you have to go and learn,” he said. “I’ve called a bunch of coyotes in rainy weather and snowy weather and even on a lot of super-windy days. It’s certainly no fun in the wind and the cold and it definitely cuts down on your success.”
Foul Weather 'Yotes
So, why do it? It’s hunting. No one promised perfect conditions, and there’s coyotes out there.
Yes, he said, coyotes are still out there, whether you are or not. Like deer, they might be a little spookier in foul weather, because they can’t rely so much on their refined senses of sight, hearing and smelling, but they live out there every day.
“How many times have you been driving along at night in a big storm and you see 30 deer out in an alfalfa field and they’re not bothered by that rain at all?” he asked. “They are still out there eating. The same goes with those coyotes, and the raccoons crossing the road, and possums, skunks and everything else.”
It’s their home out there, he said. They are out there in it, rain or shine. If you want to hunt them, you should be too.