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Coyote 101


Dignitary Member
Supporting Member
Columbiana County
Some of this info is pretty basic, most of us know from deer hunting how this works, but for the novice or maybe as just a refresher on how a coyotes nose works here’s a good read.

Hunting is a science...if you study as you hunt, you will soon be the better hunter and it is more fun. Imagine knowing in advance (percentage wise) what a coyote will do before he does it...because you have learned from your studies. This is a review for the novice hunter ...written by Dr. Charles Shawley Phd. You can learn from his excellent studies on coyotes: Look for all his articles that are published and free...you will learn great coyote hunting tips.

Weather and Terrain
A coyote’s ability to pick up scent depends on weather conditions and scent age. Rain dilutes scent. Wind disperses it. Sunlight decays it. To make matters worse for the coyote, hot days limit a coyote’s ability to detect scent. As the mercury
rises, coyotes become dehydrated. The mucous inside the nose dries up and cannot effectively hold scent molecules which reduces scenting acuity. As the coyote becomes hot, it pants to regulate body heat. This further diminishes its
scenting acuity. The nose dries and scent molecules are no longer attracted to it. Vegetation has the ability to hide your scent. It’s tough to hide odor when the ground is covered by snow as there’s nothing available to block or absorb it. I have
been busted at distances approaching 500 yards by coyotes during the winter.
When the snow is gone, vegetation adds scent to the air and can also filter a portion of your human odor. Set up near a large tree or heavy brush to take advantage of nature’s scent-locking material.

Using Scent Eliminators and Cover Scents

The idea behind scent elimination spray is to trap scent molecules in a hunter’s clothing. These sprays do not actually eliminate odor, but they do adsorb it. Adsorption
is different than absorption. Absorption is the mixing or merging of one material into another. Water in a paper towel is a good example. Adsorption is the melding of one material to the surface of another. Scent elimination sprays and
scent locking clothes work to adsorb scent molecules. Scent locking clothes uses carbon (usually carbon obtained from coconut shells) to adsorb human odor molecules.
In theory, the adsorption bond between the carbon and odor molecules is strong enough that air can pass through the clothing without dislodging the odor molecules from the carbon. This gives scent locking clothes the ability to breathe
while maintaining effectiveness. While any reduction in human odor is welcomed, scent elimination sprays and
scent locking clothes do little to fool a coyote. Neither product can get the levels of human odor below the 1-2 part per trillion detection threshold. Humans are just too dirty, and not much can be done about it. Want more proof?
Human odor is not just some sort of gas that is emitted from the human body (although it can be). Human skin cells die and fall off all the time carrying along mold (yes, we mold), bacteria, oils, salts, yeast, urea, etc. These cells fall off the
face, hands, neck, and other parts of the body that are not likely covered by scent locking clothes. Even the areas that are covered still lose cells that can eventually work their way down to the ground through the openings at the bottom of the leggings. Eventually, scent locking clothes become saturated with human odor and stop working. The carbon does not refresh itself unless the bonds it makes with the
odor molecules are broken and the scent is released. This happens enough even in the best scent locking suits to reduce their performance rather quickly.

Still not convinced? Keep reading.

Dogs can smell cancer cells in your body – not just on your body but in your body. In fact, studies have shown that dogs are more accurate than mammograms.
They are able to do it through sniffing your breath.Dogs can detect early-stage cancer by sniffing urine, breath, and skin. Even cigarette odor on your breath No matter what you use as a cover scent, a coyote can distinguish human odor among the odorous bouquet. cannot fool them. Dogs can still detect early-stage cancer. Dogs can smell when a diabetic person’s blood sugar is too low.

Still need more?

Drug-sniffing dogs can detect drugs that have been cleverly hidden. Drug dogs are capable of detecting marijuana seeds sealed in two Ziploc bags placed in a partially filled shampoo bottle. They can smell drugs on money that has been handled
by a drug addict or dealer. Bomb-sniffing dogs can detect plastic explosives in suitcases. Dogs are even used to find illegal copies of DVD’s sent through the mail. So, can a carbon suit fool a coyote? Not likely.
Perhaps the worst product ever marketed to the coyote hunter is cover scent. This is not because the product fails to smell like what it advertises but because hunters rely on them excessively. A coyote isn’t fooled when you spray essence of
skunk around your call stand. You may only be able to smell skunk, but a coyote can smell you and skunk. Its amazing nose gives it the ability to separate the odors
into the proper components giving your position away. Scents are manufactured and marketed with the consumer in mind. The average consumer believes that if it smells strong it must work well. This is simply not true. Regardless of the power
of the scent, a coyote can still untangle the bouquet of fragrance and get the jump on you. Stay away from simply plopping down a cover scent near your call stand
and expecting it to fool a coyote. If you give the coyote something to smell, then it will switch its nose on and go to work. You will surely be busted.

Staying Clean

You cannot defeat a coyote’s nose unless the wind is in your favor. Set up so incoming coyotes are forced to approach facing the wind. This isn’t absolutely
necessary though. A crosswind will work as well, but be ready to cut off a circling coyote before it can taste your wind. Scent disperses roughly as the square of the distance. What this means is that as the distance between you and the coyote increases, your scent will naturally disperse (under ideal conditions) by a factor equivalent to the square of the distance. For example, a coyote that is 400 yards
away will at most experience only one-fourth of your scent that a coyote at 200 yards distance experiences.
Use scent elimination sprays and scent locking clothes but understand their limitations. They are not a cure-all for human odor. Stay clean and fragrance-free by washing often using unscented soap. Don’t use scented soaps. If you need
proof, go to a supermarket when they aren’t too busy. Close your eyes and walk perpendicular to the aisles. I am willing to bet that you can pick out the aisle that contains the soaps. If you can smell it, coyotes can smell it. Camper’s soap works
well and is usually made from unscented coconut oil. Specialized soaps from scent elimination companies also work but can be expensive. Camper’s soap costs less.
Unscented deodorant is available at most hunting stores. Some are expensive, but I have found deals at Wal-Mart for a dollar per stick. Most are a chalky mess and need to be reapplied often, but they are worth the mess and inconvenience. Avoid eating foods that contain ingredients known for their smell such as garlic and onions. Don’t pump gasoline right before your hunt. Keep your hunting
clothes away from the kitchen. I keep mine in vacuum-sealed bags. Anything you can do will help, but nothing will eliminate your human odor.

Nose Limitations

A coyote’s nose is a power tool that provides it with a method for detecting prey and danger. However, it is not a perfect system. Despite its power, a coyote’s nose cannot pinpoint the exact location of a scent at any considerable distance. It
can give the coyote a general location, but the coyote must either use its vision or hearing or get closer to get an exact fix. Unfortunately, a general location is usually
good enough for a coyote if it smells danger. If a coyote senses danger coming from the north, it will head south in a hurry. Be mindful of the wind and ever mindful of the coyote’s nose.


Senior Member
Allen County
Good reading and good information!

I've learned a lot by watching The Dog Soldier with Steve Criner, Everything Outdoors with Les Johnson and Coyote Craze Videos with Lucky Duck Predator Pros...on YouTube. There are an amazing amount of mistakes on video that they don't edit out, so the viewer learns. Very educational!!!