Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Here’s a family feature on coyote hunting for your holiday reading fix!
By Tim E. Hovey
In the fall of 2022, we were set up at the edge of a drainage with an amazing view of the sage-covered plateau. I had hunted coyotes a few times at this exact location and done well.
I looked over to my wife Cheryl and nodded. She returned the gesture, and we got ready to start calling. This was to be Cheryl’s first-ever coyote stand.
Earlier that spring, Cheryl had decided that she wanted to start hunting with me. She had never shown an interest in heading outdoors with me and my daughters, and had always stated that it was “our thing.” Now, with both kids finished with college and out on their own, Cheryl decided she wanted to give hunting a try. We’ve now gone dove hunting together (California Sportsman, Sept. 2023) and also added a predator hunt to our checklist.
At the edge of the drainage, I started up the caller and we began searching. At about the five-minute mark, I happened to glance at Cheryl and spotted a coyote coming in hard on her side. The animal dropped into the creek and was out of sight for about 20 seconds. I caught Cheryl’s attention and told her we had a customer. I could see the instant excitement in her eyes.
The coyote reappeared at the call, smelled me and then headed out fast. Luckily, out at about 220 yards he stopped to look back. That was the last thing he did. I squeezed off a round from my Howa .22-250 and hit him in the heart.
On the hike back to the truck, Cheryl had mentioned that she was surprised how fast everything had happened on the stand. She was convinced that she would never be able to calm her nerves enough and get a coyote in the scope. I told her we just needed to keep practicing.
Over the next year, every time we headed out to hunt, we’d make a few coyote stands to start off the day. Unfortunately, calling was tough over the next several months, and into the early fall of 2023, we had yet to call much in.
IN EARLY OCTOBER, WE decided to plan a dedicated predator hunting trip to Nevada. The pattern for us over the last year had been to head out early, make a couple of stands and then shift gears and hunt other critters. Overall, Cheryl really hadn’t been on that many stands. I asked her if she wanted to head out for a couple of days and just concentrate on coyotes. She gave me a resounding “Yes!”
In Nevada, we headed out early and started looking for good spots to call. Over the next several hours, we explored the area and made stand after stand with no luck. The constantly swirling wind was killing us and making conditions tough.
As the sun began to dip, I found a good-looking canyon and the wind became cooperative for the time being. We hiked in, set up and started calling. Within minutes, a coyote came in fast on Cheryl’s side, but almost instantly reversed course and left. We had both spotted him, but now he was gone. He reappeared 250 yards out, but Cheryl said the shot was too far for her. I ended up dropping the first coyote of the trip on that stand.
The next day was much of the same. Poor conditions plagued us, and I was getting frustrated. Finally, Cheryl suggested we head back to the canyon where I had shot the coyote the day before. I normally don’t call the same spot very often, but I thought what the heck.
Once again, we hiked in, set up and started calling. Within minutes, ravens started diving toward the call and squawking loudly. “Stay alert!” I whispered to Cheryl.
Again on Cheryl’s side, a coyote came loping in. He stopped, checked things out and then started walking towards the call. When he dipped behind a series of bushes, Cheryl moved her setup and waited for him to show again, just like I’d taught her. When he reappeared, slowly walking, she squeezed the trigger and dropped her first coyote.
To say we celebrated in that remote canyon in Nevada is an understatement. The stand and the shot were picture-perfect, and she handled herself and her nerves perfectly. We walked down and collected her coyote. We took lots of photos and talked about the stand. Honestly, I believe we’ll both remember that day forever.
ON THE DRIVE HOME, I started to dissect the last year of training and what had helped Cheryl take her first coyote. She had mentioned early on that she was having issues seeing through the scope. I recommended that she keep both eyes open, something I’ve done for a very long time. Within a few trips, she mentioned that the tip had helped her a lot.
We also spent time shooting her coyote rifle. On almost every trip out, we’d find a place to eat lunch and then I’d set targets up for her to practice on. I’d set three targets up at slightly different distances and angles. I’d stand behind her and tell her to swing on a different target and take a shot as fast as she could. Honestly, I think that this and keeping both eyes open during the aiming process helped her tremendously in dropping her first coyote.
Towards the end of the second day, we found a nice-looking spot to take some photos. I told her I wanted one of the two of us and her coyote so I could put it next to the two pics I have of our daughters’ first coyotes.
My wife’s recent interest in the outdoors has definitely rekindled my passion for the sport. I enjoy her company and her enthusiasm. It’s been awesome to watch her excitement with just about every aspect of the pursuit. She wants to learn everything about hunting.
After I trained my daughters how to hunt as teenagers and then watched them navigate adulthood, my interest in hunting slowed down. But now with Cheryl showing an enthusiastic interest, it looks like I have another hunting partner. Life is good! CS