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Coyote Hunting Using Cover Scents

by William C. Porter

A lot of folks I've been around and read about just sort of turn their nose up (sic) at the topic of using cover scents while hunting coyotes. Some of these same folks though, will use elk or doe urine while they're out in the fall of the year, hunting either elk or deer. Well, I'm a firm believer in using cover scents for coyotes.

As mentioned earlier, there are other things you can do, depending on where you are, to let mother nature provide the cover scent for you. Instead of the store bought varieties. Like crushing a handful of juniper berries, or grinding up with your hand the end of a sagebrush. I have been out in the field, only to find that I've forgotten my bottle of cover scent, and resorted to the ever present juniper berry many times.

Skunk essence is, by far, my most favorite cover scent. In past times when skunk essence was more prevalent in supply, I'd cover the open bottle top with a cotton ball, tip the bottle, and then hang the scented cotton ball onto one of the legs of my Harris bipod. In this way, I was covered to and from the stand. Now that skunk is getting harder to find, I don't waste as much and take a little more chance getting in/out of my calling stands.   Masking scents appropriate to the type of cover, or natural scents, such as skunk to overcome the human smell helps to take more coyotes.
    I know that in talking with veterinarians, very few anymore will de-scent skunks. Either because they feel that they're jeopardizing the skunk by taking away its only means of defense. While others feel that the stink is just too great to tolerate around their place of business. If you're lucky enough to find a local vet who still does remove the scent glands from young skunks in the spring, treat him kindly. Else you may spend many hours gleaning through magazine ads looking for a source.

Milligan Brand hunting and trapping lures, from here in northern New Mexico, used to be the finest supplier of skunk essence in my opinion.    

But the last several bottles I've bought mail order from Milligan, have been so severely tinctured that the scent was very weak and usually loses all of its smell in less than one season. Call me cheap, but at $8.00 per ounce, I want it to smell like a skunk for awhile!

I was told by Milligan's order desk, the last time that I tried to buy a bottle, that they quit carrying it. But recently in a sporting goods store, I noticed a couple of fresh bottles. You may want to give them a try at: Milligan Brand, Rt. 1 Box 87, Chama, New Mexico  87520; phone (505) 756-2630.

About a year ago, I was running low on a backup scent that I use. So I tracked down the manufacturer since there was no supplier of the brand here in the Albuquerque area. The scent was juniper. You could blindfold someone, hold up a juniper branch or crushed berry, and then wave a cotton ball with this juniper cover scent on it under their nose, and they couldn't tell the difference. The scent was made by Wildlife Research Center. When I called them, they told me that they normally didn't do retail mail order, but since there wasn't any local dealer -by their records either- they'd send a catalog and order form.

When the packet arrived, I was greatly pleased to learn that Wildlife Research Center also offered skunk essence. I'm not sure, but by their literature, it may be synthetically made. No matter, it is some excellent essence!

Just by carrying the one ounce bottle in my shirt pocket, warmed by body heat, the glass bottle will not contain the odor. My wife literally hates it, my cat won't leave me alone when I'm carrying it close to home, and it is good and strong stuff now a year later.

Wildlife Research Center now has a web site (see our links page).  Or, you can write to them at: Wildlife Research Center, Inc., 1050 McKinley Street, Anoka, Minnesota  55303; phone (612) 427-3350. Their customer service reps are very helpful and friendly.

Other scents you can use

At times I've used other natural smells. Some intentionally, and some discovered by accident. One such accidental discovery was a citrus scent that comes in a spray bottle as an air freshener for the home. I had bought a bottle for my truck and my wife's' car. Getting a drip of it on me while I doused the upholstery, later, my cat decided that the smell was delicious and wouldn't keep away from me. Well, any cat that likes skunk scent can't be all wrong. So the spray bottle went into my coyote hunting kit. I use it now on my gloves and face mask which I store between hunts, in a zip-loc baggie. A squirt before sealing the baggie, and they don't smell human-ey the next time out. Occasionally after a sweaty, warm winter day of hunting here in the desert, my ball cap gets it too. Inside and out.

Anise, which is good for deer, bear, and fishing lures to mask human scent, and even entice some wild animals is another one I use occasionally. It's found in any grocery store, and a bottle goes along way for relatively little cost.

Trapping lures, work well too. Since many of them that I've had experience with smell similar to skunk. In this arena, Milligan Brand has some good ones. Ray Milligan introduced a synthetic lure a couple of years ago. It's strong, and all you must do is open the bottle and set it beside you. I've had good luck with that.

Contrary to what I've read and heard over the years, the only scent that I'm not too sure of anymore is red fox urine. I used to spray fox urine all around my stand, roughly in a sporadic circle of where I was going to take a stand. But about a year ago, after having done so on a specific bush as a reminder to me of shotgun range. A coyote came running in at high speed, reached that bush and, did a u-turn and ran like he'd been scalded. I don't think I've used red fox urine since.

And if I had any, I think I'd try Danny Santini's idea of using tinctured rabbit urine. After all, the coyote thinks he's coming in to find a rabbit for a meal, he'd probably like to smell it beforehand. Having had pet rabbits before, I think that the smell would be strong enough to cover my scent. And that's the main reason I'd use it too.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).