By Pete Rogers
Looking across the prairie, the distance seems endless. The rolling hills of North Dakota are some of the finest for coyote hunting in North America.
If you have never been to North Dakota, it is likely your vision is endless flat prairie. Well, that is half correct. It is prairie, but most of the prairie is not flat. It is rolling and beautiful.
Frank (not his real name) of North Dakota loves to hunt song dogs of the prairie and spends a lot of time doing it. Several years ago, Frank began experimenting with using his mountain cur to hunt coyotes and found a lot of success with it.
The use of live decoy dogs is growing in popularity and is something that, as Frank describes, is “very effective during the spring denning season.” (Check your local game laws and make sure of your hunting seasons.)
Frank explains the tactic like this. “I like to go out early in the morning and use a call to find coyotes.”
Once he gets a response, he says, “I like to set up where I can see at a minimum of 200 yards. Then I start with howls while I just let the dog roam around in front of me.” Having the dog is a big distraction and provides an advantage for the hunter. It keeps the coyote’s attention on the dog and not the hunter. It seems the coyotes don’t even care if they see me, as long as the dog is visible.”
Frank howls and waits until he gets a response, sometimes waiting as long as five minutes before he howls again. Once the coyote is spotted, the dog goes to the coyote. “When the coyote sees the dog, he will immediately begin chasing it, and the dog will lead the coyote back to me,” Frank says.
While it sounds simple, it doesn’t always work that way. Using decoy dogs is not a magic carpet. It is still hunting, Frank says, it just adds something else to your arsenal.
One thing Frank cautions everyone about when using decoy dogs for the first time or when hunting with decoy dogs, “More than anything else, make sure you do not shoot your dog!”
To prevent this, during the whole process, you have to keep an eye on your dog and do your best to know where your dog is and where the coyote is. When the chase is on, I will call my dog to come back to me, and this gives enough space between the coyote and my dog to place a safe shot on the coyote.
One thing Frank would add: With today’s trespass laws, it is a good idea to go ahead and purchase a GPS collar for your dog. These collars not only tell you where your dog is, but also whose land it is on. These collars also double as correction collars with vibrate, tone and shock capabilities.
And lastly, one word of caution when considering a coyote dog, Frank is quick to point out that these are not pets, but they are working dogs. They can be aggressive toward other dogs. You should be careful when introducing your coyote dog to other dogs. Kennels with separate pens are best for coyote dogs.
Using live decoy dogs is a great tool for effective coyote hunting, but know what you are getting into before you go out and purchase a dog for this purpose. When looking for one, get a dog with good stamina, intelligence, obedience, and you will have a great companion when hunting predators.