Choosing the Right Coyote Hunting Light
Coyotes are primarily a nocturnal predator, and while you can successfully call in coyotes using various calls during the day, calling them into effective range during the dark hours of the night is extremely effective. Not only are coyotes most active at night, but they are also at their most vocal in the darkness.
Hunting coyotes with the aid of artificial light isn’t legal in all states, and some states only allow hunting coyotes at night with a shotgun. Still, other states have strict season regulations for nighttime hunting. Make sure you know, understand, and follow the regulations where you intend to hunt before pursuing coyotes after dark.
Using the cover of darkness to pursue coyotes during nighttime hours may sound easy, maybe even like cheating, but don’t underestimate the coyote. Coyotes are built to hunt and thrive in the dark; their eyes, ears, and nose continue to give them the edge anytime daylight or darkness. There are some tactics and tools that will help you successfully connect with a coyote during a calling session after the sun goes down. Put these tools into practice to make your hunts more successful.
Scouting for Night Coyote Calling Setups
Scout During the Day for Nighttime Hunting
Hunting in the dark still requires scouting, but don’t expect to find exceptional hunting spots after dark. Scout during daylight hours for areas where coyotes hunt and live for successful coyote hunts after dark. Look for edges and transition areas where croplands, grasslands, and creeks or timber come together. Try to think like a predator hunting small rodents in the cover of darkness when you’re scouting for nighttime coyote calling and hunting areas.
Don’t Neglect the Wind After Dark
Unlike calling coyotes during the day, avoiding being skylined and breaking up your outline is not necessary after dark. Use the darkness as your camouflage, but avoid bright moonlight from shining on you when you set up. Select a location with the wind in mind first, and an excellent vantage point second. Just because the sun has gone down for the night doesn’t mean that a coyotes nose is any less effective. Plan on hunting a crosswind or headwind to avoid your smell from giving you away. Keep in mind most coyotes will work to try and approach your call from downwind. Consider the effectiveness of your light at night when you are scouting a hunting area during the day. Open areas and even small amounts of elevation offer the best use of your light. Terrain or foliage that blocks your light’s beam can make it difficult to hunt an area effectively, blocking your view of predators coming into your call.
Night Coyote Hunting Tactics
Scan With Your Light to Find Coyotes
There is a lot more to calling coyotes in the dark than turning on a flashlight and making a prey in distress or coyote vocalization. To be successful with predator hunting in the dark, scan your hunting area with a high-performance hunting light. Scan quickly, and then scan again. By scanning back and forth quickly with a powerful light where you expect to see coyotes coming to your call, you are more likely to see an oncoming coyote’s eyeshine. Don’t look for an entire coyote at first, but identify eyes reflecting from your hunting light.
Choosing a Handle or Weapon Mounted Light for Coyote Hunting
Hunters can opt to use a weapon mounted light source, a light with a handle, or both. Depending on your situation, one type of light may work better than another. Using a light with a handle requires your weapon to be supported on a tripod or bipod, but it offers the best versatility and maneuverability when it comes to casting your light. Opting for only a weapon mounted light will limit your ability to quickly scan with your light and may limit where you can safely point your light because it’s attached to your gun.
Hunting with a partner can offer the best of both worlds. Designate a hunter to run the light and take care of the calling, the other partner is the shooter with a weapon mounted light at that calling stand. Take turns on the light and on the trigger from stand to stand. When hunting with a partner, communicate a protocol before the hunt to keep talking to a minimum. Something as simple as shaking the light beam back and forth when it comes onto a target can help you stay on the same page.
Look for Eyeshine
Don’t start out by looking for an animal’s full body. Eyeshine, or the reflection of your light from an animal’s eye, can be seen at greater distances than you can effectively shoot at night. This advantage gives you time to identify your target and change up the calling strategy according to the coyote’s body language.
Once you identify a set of shining eyes in the dark, use the “edge” of your light, or the outer perimeter of your beam cast to follow the animal. Keep the light on the animal and positively identify it, other animals like deer, fox, and raccoons will produce eyeshine just like your targeted coyotes.
Best Coyote Hunting Light Color?
Ask three coyote hunters what color of light they prefer, and plan on getting three different answers. Each light has its pros and cons, ultimately it’s up to you to decide. Some hunters have experienced animals being uncomfortable with one light or another, but it all comes down to personal preference and your own experiences.
- White Light – Using white light for calling and hunting at night offers the greatest amount of detail. The bright light actually becomes the camouflage during the hunt. White light may allow the shooter a better intuition of the range to the target, but it will affect your peripheral vision more than other colored lights.
- Red Light – Red light may provide a better eye shine than either white or green light. Using red lights at night for coyote hunting is probably the most traditional way to go, and it’s less likely to affect your own eyes during the hunt, reducing eye fatigue.
- Green Light – The human eye can pick up the contrast created by a green light very well, this can help you to see dark objects better than red light can. Some people experience greater eye fatigue with a green light.
Judging Distance at Night
Determining accurate distance to a target can be tricky in the dark. Pay special attention to ranges and likely shooting areas when you are scouting during the day. Things can look much different in the dark, and using landmarks to judge distance in the darkness can be deceptive.
Keeping shot distances to shorter ranges is the best practice for nighttime action. Positively identifying a coyote at longer ranges in the dark can be difficult, as well as knowing what is beyond the target.
Where legal, pursuing coyotes under the cover of darkness is an incredible way to harvest fur, impact the predator population, and enjoy the hunt. Getting out to properly scout the areas you plan to call during daylight hours is critical to your hunt’s success. Whether you choose to shine a colored or white light, handheld or mounted on your weapon, calling to nighttime coyotes will have you howling at the moon!