March 23, 2022
Geoff Nemnich’s first coyote calls were ones he found in the parking lot of a public-access hunting area. He’d shot a few coyotes while deer hunting but never called in a coyote, so thought he’d try. He lay at the top of a hill and started blaring on a call. A few minutes later, he looked to his left and a coyote was standing 75 yards away. He killed it, thinking coyotes were dumb and hunting them was easy. It took two more years of trying before he killed his second.
Nemnich, of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has come a long way since. He won back-to-back titles (2014, 2015) at the World Championship Calling Contest, produced the popular Coyote Craze coyote-calling DVD series, co-hosts a YouTube series The Last Stand and hosts the Eastman’s Predator Pros podcast. Since 2011, he’s booked coyote hunters from novices to veterans at this Coyote Craze College, which combines a day of classroom college knowledge and two days of putting the knowledge into practice hunting in the Nebraska panhandle.
I attended the college in January 2022 with John Fleming of Johnston City, Ill., and Mark Lawrence of Maryville, Mo., and am still processing most of what I learned, which covers basics to advanced strategies that work for Nemnich. At that time, he had killed 235 coyotes since October.
Here’s a glance of a few things I learned.
1. Access is the Key to Season-Long Success
You’re going to be shocked at the amount of ground you’re going to need to hunt coyotes two or three times a week for the five months (October through February) that are best for coyote hunting. For instance, say you’re an avid hunter who plans to hunt 10 days a month (or 20 morning-only hunts) and you average 10 stands a day (or five a morning), you’ll need 100 stands that month, so in five months you’ll need 500 stands to make it through the seasons. So, assuming you aren’t going to hit the same stands more than three times during the season, you divide 500 by three and get 166 stands. “That tells you you have a lot of work to do, a lot of doors to knock on as far as getting access,” said Nemnich. To keep track of the properties on which he has permission, Nemnich relies on the onX Maps app on his phone, marking property boundaries, roads, and even exact stand locations.
2. There Are Plenty of Coyotes
You are going to have a hard time reducing the coyote population of an area. “It’s the 70-percent rule,” Nemnich said. Government studies found you would have to kill at least 70 percent of the coyotes in an area in a year in order to see reduction in overall coyote numbers the following year. “That’s crazy to me,” he said. “If you killed 70 percent of the deer population, there wouldn’t be deer there for years but if you don’t kill 7 of 10 coyotes out of an area, there’s going to be at least 10 coyotes in that area next year.” Coyotes self-regulate litter size based on a number of factors, like food and habitat resources which determine an area’s carrying capacity. In times of plenty, litter sizes increase; vice versa during lean times.
3. Play the Wind
You’re not going to beat a coyote’s sense of smell. “They’re olfactory senses are second to none,” he said. Early in his hunting career, Nemnich and his hunting partner figured out coyotes were getting downwind, smelling them and running off, so they sprayed each other with fox urine as a cover scent. That lasted for one hunt. "We jumped back in the pickup and closed the doors and the stench was so bad and we couldn’t get that washed out of our clothes for a long time.” Then they tried scent-killing products until they realized “all it was doing was making us complacent of the wind. We realized we were never going to beat the nose of a coyote.” They started paying more attention to their stands and set up where they could kill the coyotes before they got downwind where their nose would catch their scent. In coyote-hunting seminars, Nemnich illustrates the point saying a K-9 drug-sniffing dog can smell plastic-wrapped cocaine sunk in a 50-gallon barrel of diesel fuel and “a coyote’s nose is probably even better than a drug dog’s because they are using it on a survival basis every day.” The bottom line is he doesn’t worry about human scent or if you spilled gas on your boot while fueling your truck that morning or if you smoke a cigarette while sitting on the stand. All that scent is “going to the same spot and if a coyote gets there whether he smells human odor, gas or whatever, it’s game over.”
4. Watch the Clock
Mathematics can make you a smarter coyote hunter. It’s the classic classroom math question: If a coyote can travel at 10 mph when coming to a call, how long will it take him to cover one mile? Six minutes. I can do the equation for how long it would take him to cover a half-mile: 6 divided by 2 equals 3 minutes. Most coyotes you call in come from 800 yards (roughly a half-mile), Nemnich said. “I base all my stand times on that.” If he plays a sound on his Lucky Duck electronic call that causes the coyote to come in, the coyote should be there in three minutes or, even if it is a mile away, in six minutes. Therefore, Nemnich said the longest he’ll stay on a stand is about 18 minutes; and the least amount of time he’ll stay is six minutes. “Most of the coyotes I’ve killed came in at the two- to eight-minute mark,” he said. He knows of hunters who stay longer, as much as 45 minutes on a stand, and kill coyotes in that timeframe. “You’re playing the odds, he said. “That’s not to say I might hit the jackpot at 45 minutes and kill one. But if I sit there for 10 minutes, I cover the best chance to kill a coyote in the first two to eight minutes. If I got up and headed to the next stand, I’ve made two stands at two locations as opposed to sitting in the same location and covering the same prime time. For the other 35 minutes, I sat there hoping something would show up.”
5. Variety Kills More Coyotes
You’re probably throwing the same sound at coyotes for too long during your stands. “I will never let the same sound play on my e-caller longer than six minutes - ever,” he said. “And most of the time it’s five minutes.” If he thinks coyotes might be close, say, in thick cover 500 yards or so away, he’s likely to play one sound for three minutes then switch right into another sound for another three minutes. That six-minute stand should provide enough time for any coyotes in that 500-yard zone to come in or at least show themselves. If calling in more wide-open territory, with coyotes needing more travel time, his stand might go like this: Sound 1 for five minutes; Sound 2 for five minutes; Sound 3 for five minutes and maybe a Sound 4 for three minutes, and he’s been there for 18 minutes.