Montana was in the midst of one of the coldest stretches on record and Saturday was quickly approaching. With the big game season over it was time to start thinking about trying our hand at some predator management. Our good friend Matt Piippo had invited us to come coyote hunt and with the temps dipping well into the negatives, we knew the conditions would be ideal to find some hungry coyotes. As we drove to our first stand the temperature read -18F.
The coyotes would definitely be on the prowl today. As we walked into our first stand the wind just wasn’t right. After a short set up calls we noticed a coyote sitting down in the bottom of the draw at about 420 yards. Neither Matt or myself were prone and with the cold temps it was a poor shot to take. The coyotes slowly drifted off knowing that human scent didn’t mean pleasant things. As they did another two coyotes came flying into view, chasing the other two off. A small territory battle was ensuing and we knew the day was only going to get better. Our next stand happened about 5 miles to the west. We parked the truck and hiked up to the top of a small plateau. Matt began coaxing the call and soon two coyotes were coming in on a string. As they closed the distance they dropped down through the small coulee and Matt quickly switched to the shotgun. The lead dog came up the hill and stood broadside at 10 yards, still unaware of our presence. Click. The shotgun misfired and Matt quickly switched to his rifle. Click.
Some choice words probably went through Matt’s head as the coyote surprisingly still stood there looking for the dying rabbit. Matt quickly dropped a fresh round in his gun and put the 1st coyote to rest. As the other coyote spun and began hightailing it a second shot put a quick end to an exciting stand.
We rounded up the two males and replayed the series of events. None of us had experienced multiple gun failures only to finish strong with a double. Apparently -18 does a number on the lubricants in a rifle as the firing pin had only just barely made it to the primer. We scooped up our gear and headed back to the truck.
As soon as we reached the truck we discovered that Matt didn’t have his usual rack to load the coyotes onto. I quickly chimed in that the front grille guard would work equally as well and really add a nice touch to the Predator Quest rig. Our motto for the day was now to “fill the bumper.”
It was only 9:20 and we had a lot more country to cover. After talking to some locals and a few landowners we finally made it back out to an area Matt has called in many coyotes over the years. Right off the bat a coyote came flying out of the trees only to stop and sit at 300 yards. A few series of calls failed to bring him closer and Matt knew it was time to let one rip. Boom! Snow flew behind the coyote as his round missed just high and the coyote went Mach 10 back into the timber. A simple miscalculation of his bullet drop in the cold temperature left this coyote very alive for another day. We laughed it off and headed off to some new country. Over the next 45 minutes we saw 4 coyotes off the road. Unfortunately, they also saw us and plans to call these areas quickly vanished. As we were moving locations Matt pulled over to glass a common coyote hangout. Sure enough he spotted a nice coyote mousing a mile and half up in a cut field. Matt turned to me and said “We’re going to kill that coyote.” We parked the truck and made our way up to the center of a nearby pivot and got ready. A few minutes into calling and a coyote trotted over the ridge and closed to 240 yards before stopping to try to locate the sound. I was ready and one shot left us with a 3rd dead coyote for the day. I was all smiles as it’s been some time since I’ve had to chance to get a crack at a wily coyote.
We quickly made our way through the field to collect #3. A long drag and we were back in the rig and ready for a new stand.
Light was fading quickly and we decided to call a big basin with no cover. We split up and made ourselves comfortable on the open hillside. At first I didn’t think a coyote was going to commit. The country was very open and it had been a good 8-10 minutes and nothing had appeared. As quickly as I thought that, I heard Travis lip squeak to my right. A coyote had just come running over the far hill and was closing the distance quickly. I shifted my aim and watched as this pretty coyote continued to get closer and closer. At 325 the yote stopped. Apparently she didn’t see anything resembling a rabbit. As she stood there I felt she wasn’t coming any closer and with my gun resting on my pack I slowly squeezed the trigger. Thwack! The shot dropped her in her tracks and number four for the day was in the bag.
Light was fading quickly and with it the temperature was also plummeting. With coyotes blocking our headlights we decided to call it a day and loaded up the last coyote into the grill of the Excursion.
It had been an epic day. We had seen 16 coyotes and went 4 for 5 on called in dogs. We were able to get a little bit of footage and will be making a short video to share with you guys in the next few months. Soon we will be off to Idaho to late season mule deer hunt and then it will be Christmas. Good luck to anyone still getting out into the field and we can’t wait to get back out ourselves.