Calling Techniques 

Would you like to contribute techniques to the UVA?
We are looking for predator hunters to contribute articles to the UVA website!
Want to contribute? Visit the contact page!

Here is the meat and gravy of predator hunting, the calling. This is another area of hunting predators that you can go over the basics, but you really need time in the field to get good at. Calling techniques change from season to season and area to area. What works one day in one situation might send predators running for cover another day or in another situation or area. We will be covering the basics of a calling sequence and some things NOT to do while calling.

Honestly, I really do not think there is a predator out there that can hear one animal in distress sound and think, 'That is a baby Cottontail.' or 'That is a Jackrabbit.' They know what animals in distress sound like and can key in on the high pitched squeals.

Another thing to remember is every animal of a certain species does not make the same sounds as it dies. They all might have a similar pitch, but the cadence, speed and tone will be different for every individual animal.


Predator calls can be broken down into two groups:

  • Hand or mouth calls - The group covers everything that doesn't require electricity to operate. There are literally hundreds of mouth and hand calls out there. Keep an open mind about selecting calls. Just because it isn't a 'predator' call doesn't mean that it cannot be used for calling them! Try using other types of calls to imitate distress sounds. Don't forget about the calls used in hunting other game such and Javalina or Deer. A fawn bleat of a grunt by a doe might just be the ticket to get that predator to come within range.


  • Electronic calls - Recently there has been an absolute flood of new electronic 'predator' calls on the market. Some are no more then a simple pre-recorded 'chip' type player and a speaker in a fancy package. Others are expensive remote controlled  digital systems that can not only mix different sounds, but play a certain sequence of sounds. Select one in your budget and give it a try. One thing to really remember though. You usually get what you pay for, and while a cheaper caller may look good and sound good and work perfectly well for you in certain situations, it has to fool something that spends the majority of its life dealing with similar sounds and if you cannot upgrade or change the sounds and the animals in the areas you hunt become aware that that particular sound means that bullets are going to start flying, you are not going to get many good responses to your calling efforts.


Calling Sounds and Sequences

A calling sequence is just that, a sequence of sounds that is meant to entice a predator into shooting range. Sounds pretty simple right? It usually is! The sequence that you use to call really depends a lot on the type of caller you are using, the time of the year and the area you are calling to. First we are going to list types of sounds and then we are going to take a look at each season and the possible calling sounds that one might use at that time. Once again, these are not written in stone. Play with them and adapt them to your needs and area. 

The basic categories of calling sounds:

  • Animal Distress - Usually high pitched squeals and screams of something getting beat up, eaten or killed.

  • Barks - Simply that. Coyote or Fox barks. Coyote barks are the most common of these. Some barks are good while others are bad. Later on we will cover which ones you want to use and which ones you never want to use.

  • Howls - Coyote Howls. There are MANY different types of howls and while there is some confusion about what each one really means, there are a few that you want to steer away from at certain times of the year and others that come in very handy at other times.

  • Squeaker/Coaxer - Usually made to either imitate a mouse or rodent or just something to attract the attention of an animal once it is in close enough to hear it.

Seasons and possible calling sounds used in each:

Note: The general dates for each season is a guideline. The 'seasons' have been compiled for Utah and surrounding areas. They may overlap or be different from the seasons in your area.

Winter (October - January) :

Early in the season the family groups have broken up, but usually the pups from this year are not all that far away from Mom and Dad, until the end of the season. This is usually considered the cream of the crop for predator hunting. Prey is still pretty abundant and just about any distress sounds can bring in the young pups in droves. Locator howls also usually work really well at this time of the year. Towards the end of the season the food supply begins to drop and distress sounds can really work well. The later in the season, towards the end of January, Coyotes are entering the breeding season and normally the pups are pushed out into other areas by the dominant pair. At this time locator howls can work ok and distress sounds might draw in a few coyotes or a fox, but for the most part they are concentrating on breeding and are interested in little else.

Spring (Mid-January - June) :

This time of year is usually one of the harder times of the year to hunt predators. They are usually still in the hardcore raising of pups and concentrate on little else. At this time of year a series of challenge barks can work pretty well to get them interested in who is stomping around. One important thing to remember though. The pairs are usually pretty protective of the den site and will not usually venture all that far away from it. Distress sounds can work alright, but for the most part they will pretty much stick to raising pups. Stick with mainly distress sounds and maybe a locator or challenge bark if you can find a den site.

Summer (July - Mid-September) :

This is when things finally start to heat up after breeding and pup rearing. The family group starts getting ready to break up. The pups are venturing out of the den area and starting to hunt with mom and dad and towards the end of the season they might be hunting in small packs with their siblings. During this time both distress and howlers start to pick up again. You might try a short sequence of animal distress sounds followed by a locator howl. 


Fall (Late-September - October) :

The family groups usually start to break up around now and there are a lot of young Coyotes out there with food and survival on their minds. Food is still in good supply, but the younger ones have a hard time turning down a meal. During this time distress sounds work great and the younger pup can sometimes be pretty comical when they come in doubles or more. If you are using barks or howls try to make them sounds like a younger coyote. Barking like the big dog on the block just might make everything in the area lay low until they can figure out who the new big dog is.


Sounds and sequences to stay away from:

The following sounds and sequences can have a bad effect on a calling situation. Steer well away from these.

ANY 'PEOPLE' SOUNDS: This is the biggie. No talking, coughing, sneezing, farting, joking around, slamming car or truck doors, stomping up into your stand area. BE SILENT!!!

Warning Bark: Usually a set of two or three barks in rapid succession.THIS SOUND WARNS ALL COYOTES IN THE AREA THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG.

Big Bad Dog Bark/Howl: At times you don't want to sound like the biggest, meanest dog on the block. Try to tailor your barks/howls to either sound like a younger pup during the fall season or a mature coyote during the breeding season.

Calling/Howling too much: Limit the number of howls and barks you use. Don't make it would like a whole pack of Coyotes are out tearing the prey apart and limit the time that you scream. Too much screaming or howling can make incoming predators very wary.