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I have a number of differend coyote howlers. They all work. Some sound better than others. The Dan Thompson Red Desert howler is my go to howler when I am out in the field. The ELK Power Howler sounds the best to me, but it is not very loud. Here is what I think about howling sounds:

HOW YOUR HOWL SOUNDS TO THE COYOTE.... One thing to remember is that the howl that you are making is going to be heard way out there, maybe 400 yards or more. It does not sound to the coyote like it does to you as you make the howl. It might sound raspy or not perfect to you, but at that distance the coyote hears a "howl". All of the detail that you can hear as you are blowing the howl is lost as the sound travels 400 yards or more. If the coyote was sitting right next to you he would know that the howl is fake, but at a distance he can't tell the difference. Coyote howling works. Get a howler and give it a try. It is easy to talk the coyote language.
What are your views on sound quality?

Good Hunting... from Varmint Al
 

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I don't worry much about the quality of the howls I make, but I do think the pace, and different sounds are important, assuming you're trying to call them in and not just locate them. As you mentioned, there is a "language", and if you know it, you can do some good things with a howler. I was fortunate, many years ago, and got to spend some time with Bill Austin, who I consider the "father" of howling. He knew that lingo. He could stand behind me and howl, and it sounded like I had a coyote in my back pocket....LOL. he was REALLY good!! My own personal favorite, for calling them, is the Crit R Call standard, with the coyote reed, or the SongDog, which is the same thing with an extension tube. The best sounding howler IMHO, is the Sceery, but it's a bit too throaty, and "tough" sounding....might scare off the younger coyotes.
They'll respond to about any howl, or siren, for locating them, but they won't come running to just any howl. Bad howling will run them off faster than good howling will bring them in, especially in areas where they are are hunted frequently.
 

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Nothing new here.

I guess I like trying to imitate what they are doing mostly, only as a smaller coyote if I can. I am still trying to get better at that. I have used recorded sounds and the Song Dog and am currently trying the Primos Hot Dog. I think it is ok for a locator, but perhaps it sounds a little too intimidating. I am looking to try the Little Dog so as to better mimic a lonely female or younger coyote in an attempt to reduce the intimidation factor.

So far, though, my best experience has been to abandon the howler when I know they are interested and either be quiet or go for the food bin calls like the rabbits or squeakers. That may be because I am just not good enough at the howling sounds or am too loud with the big horn howlers when the coyotes are getting closer.

Like you said, at 400 yds or more, everything sounds interesting. But talking the language becomes important as they close in on your position.
 

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I would like to get someone from out West where you guy are calling them in regulary back here in Ohio. I have got them to answer me with a Howler, but have never been able to call in a coyote here in Ohio. I have a Fox Pro that did a good job when I used it in Idaho, but have called in nothing but hawks, owls and crows with it here, oh and a couple of dogs. I don`t know if the calling presure is that great around here or they are just that much smarter. I have talked to several other people that call them in this area but no one that is haveing any luck.
 

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Let me preface all my remarks by saying that while I've done a lot of howling at coyotes in the field, I don't consider myself very knowledgable about using the technique. On the other hand, I've read every piece of research on the subject I've ever been able to get my hands on and do feel fairly knowledgable about authentic coyote vocalization. My opinions on how coyotes actually use vocalization to communicate have been formed mostly from reading research studies (Lehner, Knowlton etc.). My opinions on howling as a hunting tactic have been formed largely on the advice of more experienced coyote hunters. Frankly, I lack the field experience to back most of my opinions up. I'd advise that nobody take my thoughts on the subject too seriously. So, with that out of the way...

I believe we have two separate subjects here, that tend to get blurred in discussions like this, but which I feel are better kept distinctly separate. The two subjects are "real" coyote vocalizations and the role they play in the life cycle of coyotes, and "howling" as a hunting technique. I think real coyote vocalization ia a tremendously complex subject that is far from fully understood, despite a large volume of research. Conversely, however, I think using coyote vocalizations as a hunting tactic is relatively simple and best treated that way.

The coyote "language"... Yes, they have one. No question. I personally don't think anyone really understands it all that well though, not even the people who spend their lives studying it. But the other side of the coin is "speaking" the language, via our howlers. That is the part that I think is often over stated. My opinion is that nobody works a howler well enough to really speak coyote worth a damn. I think what we really have, are just a few basic, generic types of hows that we try and recreate. And I think that the most useful descriptions of howls we use are simply "agressive", and "non agressive". Perhaps adding the further categories of "lone howl", "yip howl" and "group howl". I think attributing anything more than that to our howls, calling them "female invitation" or "male challenge" for instance, is mostly a function created by marketing, but lacks substance in reality. I'll agree there are many shades of gray though. I use what I call "puppy" howls a lot, for instance. To my mind, those howls I'm making sound like a coyote pup, not an adult. But, realistically, I have no idea what the coyotes that hear my "puppy" howls are thinking they hear. Certainly, they are non-aggressive lone howls, and that's probably as far as I should go in describing them. Calling a particular howl we make "male" or "female" starts to get towards the area where I just think "marketing". Taking it further and calling our howls "interrogation" or "invitation" or "challenge" or "warning" etc. is not at all realistic in my opinion. We don't know WHAT the coyotes hearing our howls hear them as. I can tell you, that with all my years of hearing coyotes howl in the field, and killing many of them, that I can't reliably predict the sex of a coyote by hearing it's howl. I've killed plenty of females that sounded like dominant old boss dog alpha males. And plenty of boss dog large adult males that sounded pretty wimpy. Of coures I've been right many times too, but the times I've been wrong are not all that rare. So if I can't tell the difference between a real male and female coyote howl that I'm hearing, I don't presume that I can make a howl and know whether it will sound male or female to a real coyote. To presume I can "speak" coyote well enough to actually communicate specific information, is just folly, in my opinion.

Getting back to the vocalizations of real live coyotes for a moment. Dealing just with the "lone howl" and nothing more, biologists (Barret, Jaeger, and Mitchell) who study coyote vocalization and conduct discriminate analysis of spectagraphs of coyote howls tell us that information is transmitted through both high and low frequencies and the location of those frequencies within the harmonic. Amplitude, frequency and delivery (emotion) can change the meaning too. This is dealing with just ONE type of howl - the "lone howl"! Scientists aren't even sure if some of the vocalizations other than lone howl that have been "identified" aren't really nothing more than the difference in how the same old lone howl is produced by individual coyotes. That is to say, that even the people who study this for a living, can't tell what most lone howls by unfamiliar coyotes mean. In other words, the "language" of the coyote is truly complex! We really have no idea how much information is exchanged between coyotes by a simple lone howl. We do know that the information exchange is relatively complex though. Far too complex for us humans with our limited hearing to understand by simply listening. So, my opinion is that if the language is too complex for us to understand by listening, I feel it's too complex for us to truly speak as well. I mean, you don't hear about people claiming they can "speak" whale, and to me "speaking" coyote is just as far fetched.

So, anyway... Remember that this is coming from someone who really does not claim to know much about howling, and take it with a large grain of salt. But what this all boils down to for me, is that I have basically two types of howls to use - aggressive and non-aggressive. I use yip howls and group yip howls to locate and non-aggressive lone howls to attract. I never use aggressive howls unless the coyote uses them first. Pretty simple approach!

Oh, one last thing... A distance of 400 yards has been mentioned. Realizing that there are lots of variables that I'm ignoring for the sake of keeping this short - I believe that under typical field condtions, coyotes can hear a typical howl from at least a mile away. In good conditions, with a loud howl, probably 2 miles away. I think 800 yards would be minimum, even under fairly adverse conditions. After all, in typical conditions, a coyote can hear you suck air between your lips from over 400 yards! And while I'm sure Al is correct about some of the detail being lost with distance, researchers believe that authentic howls carry enough detail to communicate specific meaning over much greater distances.

- DAA
 

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I hate to disagree, Dave, considering the enormity of my respect for your coyote huntiung abilities, but I think you're wrong. IMHO, there definitely is a "challenge" type of howl, and there definitely is an "interrogation" type of howl. I would also say that those two howls are the callers most inportant howling tools. I would also say that the vast majority of the coyotes I "howl" in are bigger males. In the opinion of Bill Austin, 90% of coyote howling is males. I have no reason to dispute that. None of my info is from studies, biologists, or other sources. Just Bill Austin, and my own use of his techniques. I have seen females howling, but only in the presence of their mates...a duet so to speak. I'm not claiming I'm right, but this all works for me. I can also say I've never heard a tape, or commercial learning tool, that used the various "words" of the coyote language similar to the way Bill did. I don't use howling indiscriminately. I use it for "targeted" animals that won't come in to distress calls alone. I have found no more rewarding calling than working a "shy" coyote for 45 minutes and finally having it come in. In most cases they are large, dominant males.
 

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Coyote howl variations.

DAA

Along the lines of what you are saying... I like to listen to the howls of coyotes and all I know is when they get excited, they howl. On 2 kills this year of a deer and elk, once the animals were gutted, the howling began big time smelling the fresh kill. I like hearing that. Both were near dark and if I wasn't so busy trying to get the carcasses out, it would have been a great time to call and see what would happen.

The attached website has a lot of howls that are interesting to hear as well.

http://www.wolfpark.org/ICRC/sounds.html

I think it supports your reply above. The sounds from these 54 sound clips alone includes more sounds than I have ever heard tried by any coyote caller that I know. Some do sound like repeats, but I can't say for sure.

As for those that claim this or that to be a lone female howl... I can't say for sure, but I know that at least a few of these guys are making money off of not only the marketing but the success shown on their videos. And that is what I am trying to learn to emulate, because it appears to work.

I do know what does work for me now though and so far it hasn't been "Speaking the Language", but I am hopeful. What has worked for me is not howling when they are acting interested and sounding the dinner bell instead of howling works better for me right now.

Like the Rhino calls little video clip says "Rabbits are food"

Anyway, I enjoyed your discourse on the subject. Thanks.
 

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IMHO, there definitely is a "challenge" type of howl, and there definitely is an "interrogation" type of howl.
No problem with anyone disagreeing with my thoughts here Jim. Especially you!

I do want to clarify something though. I'm not saying that there are not specific howls such as a "challenge" or "interrogation". According to the biologists, the "interrogation" is simply a lone howl - which they claim can have many different meanings, including the one I think most people associate with the term "interrogation howl". Again according to the biologists, the "challenge" is what they call a "threat bark/howl".

So, just to be clear, I absolutely agree that these various howls are real. They exist.

But, here is where I think we may just have to agree to disagree... What I believe, is that we humans can't recreate those specific howls authentically. As a specific example - the scientists have identified the "threat/bark/howl" mentioned earlier. But they have also identified a "warning/bark/howl". Now, I know that you know the difference. And I believe it was exactly this kind of subtle distinction you had in mind when you said that bad howling will run them off quicker than good howling will bring them in (which I agree with completely!). But I don't think we can realistically expect to communicate such subtle distinctions with the howls we make. The lone howl is probably a better example to use. We hear all the time about "interrogation howls" and "female invitation" howls and "assembly howls" and "feeding howls" and so on and so on. These are all variations of the lone howl. Having talked to the people studying these things, and hearing how rich and complex the communication of the lone howl is, I just don't believe anyone can understand what these howls mean by listening to them. And if we can't understand them, then how on earth can we "speak" them? Like I said, to me, it's just as wild as claiming to be able to speak whale, or elephant. I just don't believe we can do it. We make howls. They are either aggressive or non aggressive. If we think we are being intentionally more specific than that, I think we are only fooling ourselves. We really have no idea what the coyotes think we are saying with our howls.

But, I know I'm going against the grain here, and don't expect too many people too agree with me.

As far as the type of coyotes called in with howls... I agree completely that most coyotes that come in to aggressive howls will be adult males. But I almost never use aggressive howls, and have both sexes and all age classes come in to my non-aggressive howls.

- DAA

Oh, P.S., almost forgot - all coyotes howl. Both sexes, all age groups. But the frequency and timing does vary according to territorial status. Transient coyotes howl less than territorial coyotes.
 

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You're absolutely right, Dave. There's no way anybody could mimic all those different sounds...Heck, they may even vary a bit from pack-to-pack, and area to area. That may even explain why howling doesn't always work.....sometimes I think I'm doing a "come hither" and I'm sounding the alarm! Also, an interrogation howl done in a location that's wrong, or a time of day that's wrong, will scare them off, or at least alert them. Howling is more difficult than distress calling, but will work on coyotes that are immune to other calling. I'm no expert, and am still learning, too. I enjoy the challenge of working diffcult coyotes more than I enjoy racking up numbers....don't have to walk as far......LOL......guess I'm gettin' old....
 

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I hunted with Bill Austin for a week.......

glory, that man could sure put away some liquor! Ha! He could not believe that I did not drink...in his case, one of us was enough!

Bill did some really unusual things with a howler, but he kept it to 4 basic calls:

Interrogation
Challenge
Female invitation
Imature invitation

Up in Wyoming, you can see yotes for quite a ways. We would locate them first and then put the stalk on them, keeping a hill between us and them. Then we got 800 or so yards from them, he would blow an interrogation howl and watch. If they did not start coming in, then he and I would blow an
interrogation howl together...that got them coming EVERY time. As soon as they started coming if straglers would want to stay behind, he would hit a call to immitate a coyote getting it's butt whipped...that put the turbos on the yotes coming in.

Over the years, I howled in quite a few yotes, an it is particularly effective in areas that are call wise. Two guys howling are extremely effective when used in conjunction with a mouth call or electronic caller.

When I lived in Az, I started off at 3:00 am to locate the yotes. I had a detailed topo map of the area that I hunted. I would stop the truck, let it set for 3 minutes, and howl. Then, I would mark on the map where the coyotes were howling. I would go down the road for 5 miles and repeat. Come sunrise, I was usually very successful. On a full moon, I did not hunt this way, I hunted 10;00am to 3:00 pm then shut down.

In as far as using howlers, it is kinda like having a tackle box full of different colored rubber worms and top water plugs...one type of tackle will not work for everything and howlers are no different.

I seperate my howlers into three classes, Dominant Male, female, and immature yote. The Dominant Interrogation Howl will be very loud and deep. I don't like to use it because I have had the younger yotes howl back at me and not come in because they do not like to get their Butt kicked...coyotes fight all the time. I like to use an Interogation howler that will imitate the half grown or 2 year old male because they would not be a threat to the other half grown animals, which is the majority of the animals. It is very important to not blow a Dominant Male howler on an interrogation howl...I can't stress this enough...it will scare off a lot of animals. I like to get them all barking, then go to a challenge howl. When the dominant male really is mad as hell, then I will go to the Dominant Male howler...

When you shoot when howling, it is important to hit a wounded pup call, then you may get multiples.

This time of year, the Female Invitation howl is especially effective...sex is a big thing to a coyote. Many times this time of year, a female invitation will work when nothing else does.

I think that Varmint Al brought up a very important topic for varminit hunters, not enough guys use the Howler.
 

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I agree, Keith. In fact I quit using a deep, throaty howler altogether. I use a fairly high-pitched howler for everything, except one particular howl. In howling, you can never sound too weak....LOL. That particular howl is one Bill showed me. It's the "gather" howl, and is used to gather the family after a kill. In that case I like to sound like the dominant male. You're right, too, about Bill's few calls. Better to do a few well, than try and get too tricky and screw everything up. I don't even use the female invitation anymore. I stick to interogation, domain, challenge, and gather.
 

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On two occasions I have howled several coyotes into a stand. I am interested in what you guys think about what happened & maybe why. These happened in the So. Cal Desert near Indio.

The first occasion my friend, his son & I set up at the base of a hill. While it was still too dark to see I let out a lonesome howl from an old plastic trumpet howler w/ plastic open type reed. We got a howl back from quite a distance. When it was light enough to see my friend started a rabbit distress squeal. We had a coyote come in, but not from the direction of the howl. Dead coyote, followed by another series of squeals. A few minutes later another came from the same direction and he was taken. After two more series, nothing. Before we left I howled again and got a howl back from the original area. I suggested we move to the point, about 100 yards, and set up again. Once set up I used an open reed wooden howler and gave what I know as the challenge howl. Two barks and a high pitched howl, very short and cut off. Within a couple minutes I spotted a coyote coming in at a trot from the area we heard the howling. Soon we noticed he was followed by four of his buddies. The lead coyote looked huge as he was bristled up like he was ready to fight. We took three of the five. The leader was an older male.

The second time, two weeks later, I was hunting alone about three miles from the above instance. I was set up on a big rock overlooking a rocky wash. I gave a couple rabbit squeal series, but nothing. I then gave the high pitched & short howl. From the bottom of the wash came six coyotes on a trot. I put the leader in my scope. He was not bristled up as previously described, but seemed to be looking for something and very alert. Unfortunately just as I started to squeeze the trigger the wind swirled and that was the end of that.

I've tried that same howl on several occasions since then and have only called in singles and once a pair. I wish I could remember what time of year, I think that may have something to do with the results.

With those first two scenarios in mind, what were all those coyotes attracted to? Were they coming to fight with an interloper or just curious? Was the howl I was imitating the "let's fight" howl or what?
 

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The short howl, with barking was definitely a challenge....that's why he was all bristled-up. The others were attracted by the opportunity to socialize, they hadn't yet decided there was a threat or challenge, but were coming to investigate. At least that's how I read it. Often, when coyotes come to only a distress call they aren't responding out of hunger. They're responding out of a sense of territorial defense....they want to know what other predators are working the food supply in "their" area.
 

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Its Hard to read their Minds.

A couple months ago I was messing around with a Primos Hot Dog. I was on a rural road and I thought I would just try it out. (I didn't even have a rifle) It was about 10 PM.
I howled a couple times in my most amateurish way; listened for a half minute and no one answered me. I got back in my car and started driving away...traveled maybe a Qrarter of a mile and met one RUNNING up the road in my direction. Didn't answer me at all.... This is all over my head for sure.
 

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I did exactly the same thing on the trip I hunted with Bill A. We were on the way back to Idaho from Rawlins, and stopped on a bridge over the Big Sandy River. It was middle of the night, and I howled, not really knowing what I was doing. Nothing answered, and it was colder than h---, so we got in the truck and headed down the road. Got about 400 yards and here comes a big coyote....never made a sound...just coming in. You never know with coyotes.
I had violated one of Bill's hard rules....never call from near the outfit. The other was: never call once they're in any sort of gun range. His thinking there was they will overrun you in their anger, and eagerness to take a bite out of the invading coyote's backside....LOL
 

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Coyotes will not answer you back if you howl too close to them...

They will either come in on you in 4 minutes or never come in and stay back and bark at you because they have made you.

I want to repeat one thing, where it is not legal to night hunt, use the howling prior to daylight to locate the yotes or take a head count. This tip will increase your success greatly. You will of course want to check with DFG to see it they consider this technique legal prior to sunrise. This technique may not work in areas where you can see for many miles...I never tried it in Wyoming, SD, or Colorado. Coyotes like to bed down on hillsides where they can see what is approaching them.

When I lived in Az, I would stay up many nights howling, marking maps for either hunting the next day or for later hunts. When high pressure systems are parked over you, it is a good time to get out and scout new areas, they will always howl when they will not come into a call. It is amazing how many areas look like good calling areas and there not be a coyote withing many miles of the area. I always used amplified ear muffs as an aid heariing better. It is amazing at how far they can hear a howler...miles in open dessert in the direction that the wind is blowing.
 

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Howling tough, dominant males....

In my experience, howling has two basic levels, or intentions. Those are dominant and submissive. From those two, you can branch out further, with gender, age, territory, group, etc. I would categorize "interrogation" in the submissive side of the ledger. I have great appreciation for a well delivered howl. The timing is whats so important. Of course the cadence, volume, and style have to be "believable too. It is indeed an artform very few callers master.

When I go to the howler (I like the CritRCall medium size, or standard) I always start out trying to sound on the small side. Odds are greater you will get a responder to the weaker sounding howl, than a brave male wanting to tackle a Gorilla Yote :)

I am NOT a great howler at all. In fact, maybe not even a good howler, but for whatever reason, I am a very good "barker". And not with only the call, but with my actual voice. We all have weird talents, and that just happens to be one of mine. Almost every winter, around this time, that barking has gotten a few males who just have to charge in.

Last year, I had made a few stands on a very cold, windy afternoon.It was getting dark now, and was about to quit. But the wind was dying down, so I decided to have some coffee and try a stand or two, after nightfall. On my very first stand, I was calling out into a pasture from near a fenceline. This gave me a 180 degrees of possibile direction for a customer. Behind me was water, so no chance of being back-doored.

I gave one loud short shrill squeal on the cottontail call, then immediately barked twice on the howler and stopped. A minute later, I scanned with the red lens over the light, and saw I had one VERY agressive dog charging into me 45 degrees left. He hesitated slightly when the light hit his eyes, and I dropped my call in the pasture grass. Feeling around nervously for it, but not having any luck, I resorted to my own barks with no call at all, just held my right hand up to the side of my mouth to direct it more his way, while I grabbed the light and snugged it alongside the gunstock.

ROW-ROW-ROW-ROW-ROW!!! then a low pitched growl.....and boy I mean when he heard that, he lowered his head, and Floored it! My challenge now was how to get him killed and not get run over. This kind of agression is something I rarely see, on these farms I usually call. He covered 250 yards in just a few seconds, and I could not stop him once his mind was made up.

At 45 paces, I planted one from the 222 into his neck, and he rolled to a stop. No others came. He was on his own, and I do not believe to this day, I have ever seen a tougher built boss male coyote! What a stout son of a gun he was! Big neck, and broad shouldered, and very tiny waist and ass end. A real K-9 specimen.

If it is calm, they can hear that bark a good 500 or more yards out. We may think they cannot hear beyond that edge, but I believe a non-response at a much further distance is not due to their inability to hear it, but rather their perception that someone else that far away does not pose a great threat to them. They are sensible creatures when it comes to burning off calories, and dont do it needlessly.

 

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Wow..! Scared to get out any of my calls...

I been hunting the same area now and now know the lay of the land to match tactics to wind direction.

Today I was out again and heard yipping and carrying on when I got there in first light so I know they were there.

I made 5 sets each one towards the wind working my way back to the mother ship in a couple mile circle. Each one overlooking an area I heard them when I showed up in the morning. I used an MP3 and amplified horn and mouth calls. Didn't even see the brush wiggle.

I have a hard time moving as it is just sparse sage and no cover except the gradual rolling hills. Fog was waffting in and out and that is when I moved. I can't say if I was made by sight or just didn't "sound right".
After this disscusion, I think the latter. I have been there every couple of weeks or so and don't know what their pressure is between my attendance.
Before I read this tonight, I was thinking maybe I should leave them alone and try to find another place to pester.

I guess I throw my hat into the ring of improper calling will not only produce no results, but "educate" them as well. I think these guys know it's a hunter (or most likely just me!) and they have learned the program.

I know that more time out and more of the expirience is key, but reading your disscusions is also part of the learning curve...(it's steep!)
 
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