Deer and turkey hunters know what kind an affect decoys can have on their hunt if used properly, but what about coyote hunters.

I first had begun to use silhouette coyote decoys when I was a hunting guide out west.  Moving back to the Midwest I bought the tactic back with me, with results that were beyond my highest expectations.

There is a time and place to use silhouette coyote decoys.  Late in the fall and early in the winter I do not use decoys much.  I have better luck hunting as many different areas as possible relying on mouth calls.  Early in the season decoys tend to scare more dogs than they bring in.

When January rolls around, and the young coyotes have matured some, and begin to think they can take on other coyotes a decoy is the ticket to success.  A decoy will remain productive throughout the month of April.  A coyote may not always come in charging to a fake, always ready for a fight, but they will let themselves be seen, normally circling downwind of the decoy.

When choosing a location to hunt ,pick an area that allows both you and the coyotes the ability to see long distances without obstructions in the way.  These places could be in a draw, halfway up a ridge, or on a flat.  It is possible to call in coyotes in thick terrain, but decoys are worthless in such places.  This is because the coyotes will not be able to see them until they are already in scattergun range.

Two silhouette decoys work best for me.  I place the decoys at a 90-degree angle to one another, with only two or three yards separating the two.  Most silhouette decoys come with a picture of a coyote on both sides.  Setting my decoys in the position that I do lets them be seen from all directions.

Safety also needs to be practiced when coyote hunting with silhouettes.  Make sure you are far from roads when setting up your decoys.  You do not want a “hunter” pulling off to the side of the road and taking aim on your fake coyotes.

Do not rely solely on your coyote decoy to bring in coyotes.  You will still have to call.  I use an electric call.  The new technology in electric calls is nothing short of amazing.  I set the call between the two decoys on the ground.  I position myself about 30 yards downwind, and offset to the side about 15 yards.  I do not want to be directly downwind.  That way a coyote coming in directly downwind of the fake coyote will not be directly downwind of me too.  When using mouth-blown calls I get about 10 yards closer to the silhouettes, but still offset the same.

Another trick I like to employ is to saturate some cotton balls in coyote urine and place them on the ground at the decoys.  This will not only help hide human odors, but also give off a realistic coyote odor.

I begin my calling regime with lone howls, soft barks or pup howls.  I do not want to be aggressive with my calling unless a responding coyote is aggressive coming in, but stops short of being in shotgun range.  When this happens I switch to a rabbit distress sound.

Full-body coyote decoys can be used, but they can be cumbersome to carry, especially for long distances.  Two silhouette decoys can easily be folded up and carried easier than just one full-body coyote.

This year, set out a couple of fake coyotes, get downwind, turn on the call, and be safe.  It is a surefire way to add some fur to the stretchers and put a little money in your pockets.


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Jason Houser is an avid traditional bowhunter from Central Illinois who killed his first deer when he was nine years old. A full-time freelance writer since 2008, he has written for numerous national hunting magazines. Jason has hunted big game in 12 states with his bow, but his love will always be white-tailed deer and turkeys. He considers himself lucky to have a job he loves and a family who shares his passion for the outdoors. Jason writes full time and is on the pro staff of two archery companies; in his free time, he fishes and traps as much as possible.