Since it's the first hunt/lesson in this season's Coyote School this is also a good time to talk about a question I get asked occassionally. It's usually experessed as, "How many stands should I be averaging in order to bag one coyote?"
While this is a little like asking "How far is up?" I think we can take a shot at an answer.
About four decades ago, when I first started calling coyotes, there were few resources to get a guy started in the right direction. I learned most things by trial and error and probably didn't average more than one coyote in the truck for every ten stands I made. Things have improved considerably since then but I still have good days and bad days. Yesterday, was kind of an in-between day...
My first stand of the day, pulled in a coyote right on cue. Only he came in from a direction I didn't anticipate and by the time I saw him he'd already scented me and fled out of the pasture into a bank of trees. Some pup-in-distress calls pulled him back out to the edge and gave me a tough shot through some grass. I tried it...and missed. Rats!
The second stand was a dry hole with nothing but a magpie showing up.
Stand number three had one show up within two minutes. However the wind was being fickle and just as she exposed herself for a shot, I'm sure she scented me because she ran out of sight. Like stand one, ki-yi's pulled her back out just enouigh to offer a thread-the-needle kind of shot through some brush. I managed to pull it off and she dropped at 155 yards. In the photo below, X marks where I was set up.
After twenty minutes of calling, stand number four had produced nothing. I couldn't believe it because it looked like a perfect spot and I was sure there was a coyote out there. After standing up, I manuevered around some brush to look further down a trail towards a beaver pond network where I was sure the coyotes would come running in from. Sure enough, there was a coyote sitting on the trail looking my way. We saw each other at the same time and he disappeared quicker than I could shoot. Almost had him.
And stand five, was a complete bust. Not even a magpie.
Five stands, I called in coyotes on three of them, got shots at two, connected on one. A great example of a morning that produced a little of everything. Does that mean I average one coyote in the truck for every five stands? No, it just means that's what I did yesterday morning. A coyote success ratio is dependant on too many variables to set a predictable average. Things like coyote density, hunting pressure, depth of snow pack, knowledge of your area, weather and shooting skill all come into play.
However, I still tell novices, not to be discouraged with one coyote down for every ten stands. If you hunt in the west that will improve significantly as your skills increase. I've run stretches that have averaged 90% success, but I've never been able to maintain it for long. It's the challenge of trying to that keeps me coming back to coyote school.