The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 21, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Yo yo yo, calling all yotes

For the Star Beacon

— Coyotes are just like any other animal in the wild, they have their won language and they communicate with each other. The better you understand their language and what the different vicalizations they make may mean the better your success rate will be in harvesting them.Coyotes are just like any other animal in the wild, they have their won language and they communicate with each other. The better you understand their language and what the different vicalizations they make may mean the better your success rate will be in harvesting them.

The calls a coyote makes are high-pitched and variously described as howls, yips, yelps, and barks. These calls may be a long rising and falling note (a howl) or a series of short notes (yips). These calls are most often heard at dusk or night, but may sometimes be heard in the day, even in the middle of the day.

Although these calls are made throughout the year, they are most common during the spring mating season and in the fall when the pups leave their families to establish new territories. When a coyote calls its pack together, it howls at one high note. When the pack is together, it howls higher and higher, and then it will yip and yelp and also do a yi-yi sound, very shrill, with the howl.


To understand the basics of coyote vocalization, first we have to break down the different barks and howls and how to make these sounds on a coyote call. Then we can put the different types of barks and howls back together to make the sounds we need to bring Mr. Coyote into gun range.

Most predator calls on the market that are designed to imitate the sound of the coyote are open reed designs. Closed reed designs on the other hand are good for producing those aggressive female sounds, and also makes prey-in-distress sounds. So let’s just dig right into making sounds using these coyote calls and get started with the simple bark.

Bark like a yote

The simple coyote bark is a non-threatening sound that is both friendly and inviting. To produce this sound place your mouth about halfway up the reed on a call such as the Knight & Hale Mega Howler for an average sounding bark. Then, apply some pressure and give a quick puff of air by quickly tightening your abdomen muscle while saying “what.”

By barking farther up the reed you will get a deeper bark and by going closer to the tip of the call you will get a higher pitch. With a little practice you will quickly learn where the sweet spot on your predator call is for your style of coyote calling to make the best sounding barks.

The aggressive bark is a sound that lets other coyotes know that there is something that is upsetting them that they don’t like. It says: “You’d better leave or I’m coming over there to get you out of my territory.”

A bark coyote call also can be a warning sound to other coyotes that there is something of danger in the area. To produce the coyote sound you make the simple bark, but it’s a shorter sound and with an air of authority. There also is less space between the barks and more of them.

Friendly howl

Now on to the friendly howl. Again as with the friendly bark, this is a sound that is non-aggressive and inviting. It’s saying, “let’s get together” or “let’s just do some commutating.” To make a friendly howl place your lips at least half way up the reed then start out with a quick puff of air.

Keep blowing for a few seconds then let the sound taper off all the way to the end. A friendly howl starts out gradually then gets higher in the middle. Then hold that sound for a few seconds let it taper all the way off to the end. Nothing sharp or quick about it just a nice long lonely sound.

Aggressive howl

The aggressive howl is a quicker howl that starts fast and ends abruptly. The quicker it starts and the faster it ends, the more aggressive the sound and the more upset the coyote. This is the sound that we’re all too familiar with. We all have had a female “dawg” stand there for 5 or 10 minutes and tell the world just what she thinks of us. Those barks and quick howls you hear are all very aggressive sounding noises.

Male vs. female

As far as the difference between male and female sounds, the female is higher pitched than the male and she does most of the talking. If a male is paired up with a female you won’t hear much out of him. She’ll do enough talking for the both of them. Usually only when a male is by himself will he do much talking, and you’ll know it by the long heavy sounds of his barks and howls.

The male is the more aggressive of the two as far as coming to a coyote call, and he would much rather come in and get the rabbit or pick a fight than stand out there and talk about it.

Over-here call

By putting some friendly barks and howls together, we can make one of the most useful sounds to the predator caller, the integration call. This predator call is used to get a coyote or a group of coyotes to respond to you, or they may just come slipping in to see who is making those sounds. The latter usually only happens when the Integration Call is combined with a few prey-in-distress calls.

The integration call goes like this: two long friendly howls a friendly bark, a short pause then a short friendly howl and last a long friendly howl. You can put two of these sequences together but usually no more than that. There is nothing wrong with changing the position of the barks and howls to get a coyote sound you are more comfortable with. Wait five minutes and repeat.

If still no answer, you may try to salvage the stand by throwing out a few prey sounds and wait five minutes to see if a dawg shows up. If not, it’s time to leave onto another bunch of coyotes.

I-dare-ya call

The next sequence we need to look at is the challenge call. It’s the sound we hope to hear after our integration call. It’s usually the dominate dawg of the area telling you that you had better get out of her territory or she is coming over to make you leave. No one invited you and you’re not welcome. How long it takes for her to show up depends on how upset she is and just how far away you are. It’s not uncommon for it to take up to a half hour for her to show herself.

The challenge call starts out with two short semi-aggressive barks, a short aggressive howl, pause a second, then repeat two more times. This is a challenge sequence. If the coyotes seem to be in a talkative mood when you’re coyote calling, you can throw out two sequences and see just how fast something shows up.

Don’t get discouraged if the dawg comes in and sits out there 200 or 300 yards away trying to draw you out first. If you don’t have a weapon capable of that distance or can’t see your prey, come back in a week or two and set up within weapon range of where you last heard the dawg, make some soft prey-in-distress sounds or throw out a Integration call and you’ll usually come out the winner.

Hey, sweetheart call

One of the most important sounds you’ll need to learn is the female invitational call. It’s used primarily in the months of January and February, during breeding season. It’s a sound that says “I’m a lonely little female coyote and I want to party.”

It starts out with a regular friendly howl, two friendly barks, a space of a second or two then a friendly bark and a short howl. This coyote call also can be a very useful sound at the end of August and the month of September as the new adults come to this sound just because it’s a female non-threatening sound and she might have a free meal to share.

Their answer

There is one more sound that is very useful in understanding what the coyote is telling you. The “I’m-a-comin’ call.” You’ll usually hear it within a minute or two after your first sequence of vocalization or distress sounds. It’s simply three to five quick semi-aggressive barks. When you hear this sound either by itself or from a coyote that is paired up, get your gun ready because he’s coming your way. Don’t make another sound — just get ready to take your prize.

Putting all these sounds together takes some time to learn and understand when, where and how to use them. I must admit I’m a novice at this myself and I still to this day learn something every season. Using the right sequence at the right time of year can make or break a whole month of coyote calling for you.

After reading and studying this article, make some notes and practice your coyote calls. Then, when you feel comfortable go to the field and see if you can get a coyote to respond to your sounds, listen to what the coyote is telling you. You’ll be surprised when you hear an answer and what you’ll learn.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

Hot tips

Ryan DiGiacomo, a young friend of mine and an avid coyote hunter, sent me a few hot tips you may be able to use in your pursuit of the infamous song dogs. Take them for what they’re worth and use them if you can:

n The most essential aspect of any critters survival is their nose. We all know this and coyotes are no different than deer. Normally when you do a deer drive they are going to come in on the down wind side of you. With that in mind put out a decoy such as a rabbit or coyote, set up roughly around 50 yards from the decoy, play the wind and ultimately this will give the animal plenty of space to try and get its wind while you positions yourself for the shot.

The sun is an important issue. A lot of hunters think having the sun to your back is a good thing. For deer, elk, and turkeys it is a fantastic thing but for yotes you won’t the sun facing you. The reason for this is because mature coyotes hate the sun in their face. They will peak out long enough to see what’s making the noise and if its really worth his energy to dispatch it! When it comes to calling in coyotes you want a foggy or hazy day with some overcast and snow always helps.

Set up is important. I had said to make sure the sun is not at your back and to set your decoy out 50-60 yards away. After that you need to break up your outline, that is an absolute must just as well as it is for any kind of hunting.

Hunt times are debatable. Early mornings and late evenings seem to be when the dogs move the best. From sun up until about 10am after that you might as well go grab a late breakfast or an early lunch. Most yote hunters do they’re evening coyote hunting around 3pm until dusk. You might catch a straggler coming through late morning or early afternoon but this is not the norm so stick to the early am late pm schedule and you’ll have better luck.  

Coyote Open

The Maple Country Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Geauga County Coon Hunters are hosting their 4th Annual Coyote Open. Dates this year for the contest are Jan. 24-26, preregistration is required.

Prizes: 75 percent or more of entry fees collected. See official “Rules” for payout details. Dog Category or Open Hunt Category. Contact: Bill Trump 983-7203, Tony Bitner 221-9786, Adam Hollobaugh 313-7406, Matt McDermott 330-221-3063, or you can register on-line at: and check out the “Official Rules” while you’re there.

Alternative dates

Because of the need of snow for successful coyote hunting we will have alternate dates for the coyote hunt in February. In the case of no snow between the 24th and 26th of January we will postpone the contest until February dates of sunrise Feb. 21 to sunset on Feb. 23. Weigh-in time will be 7:30 pm on Feb. 23.

In the case of postponed dates, we will continue to register teams up till Feb. 19 at 7 pm.


Several Wild Game Dinners are scheduled, here’s a list of the ones I know of:

Crossroads Community Church, Jan. 26, 2013. Call 428-1435 or email for more information.

Peoples Church, Feb. 23, 2013. Call 466-2020 for more information.

Jefferson Nazarene, March 14, 2013. Call 576-6556 for more information.

Oh, deer!

As of Dec. 25, 2012 the deer harvest stats for Ashtabula County and some surrounding counties are as follows:

Ashtabula — Bucks taken 1608, does taken 2604, button bucks 700 — Total 4912.

Geauga — Bucks taken 600, does taken 1131, Button Bucks taken 310 — Total 2014.

Lake — Bucks taken 299, does taken 520, button bucks taken 129 — Total 948.

Trumbull — Bucks taken 1108, does taken 1752, button bucks taken 619 — Total 3479.

State Totals — Bucks 79,966, does 109485, button bucks taken 25,470 — Total 214921.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at