By: Heath Wood
In the world of predator hunting, very few hunters put as much time and effort into successfully calling in coyotes as Jon Collins of FoxPro Hunting T.V. Collins travels the country calling, hunting and filming coyotes. Even during the hot summer, Collins continues taking advantage of coyote denning season by calling coyotes into shooting range. Collins can also be found during the summer spending time with his good friend and veteran hunter Jeff Writer while decoy doggin’.
To enlighten hunters who do not know what decoy doggin’ means and to catch up on Collins's success this summer, I recently sat down with him to ask if he could share some of his success stories and give hunters who want to begin decoy doggin’ a few pointers.
Question: What is decoy doggin’?
Collins: Most often, decoy doggin’ takes place during the spring and the summer months when coyotes are participating in what we call the denning season. The denning season is when coyotes still have their pups. The most effective time for this is May through August.
When decoy doggin’, the hunter still must call them in with an electronic call. Once the coyotes respond to the call, the hunter then releases their dog or dogs, and they engage with the coyotes. The territorial response of the coyote has them see the dog and hear the puppy sounds; they then engage in a back-and-forth game of trying to run the dogs from their territory. This back and forth is followed by a tone the hunter makes to persuade the dog to return to their location. When the dog responds to the tone, the coyote will follow the dog back because of their instinct to keep it away from their territory.
Question: Why do hunters enjoy decoy doggin’?
Collins: Decoy doggin’ is something that is so much fun. I look forward to doing it every year with my good friend Jeff Writer who has a couple of dogs and is one of the grandfathers of decoy doggin’. Whether hunters know it or not, if they decoy dog, it is because of Jeff Writer.
When decoy doggin’, you often have much up-close action with coyotes because they get so keyed in on what the dogs are doing. You can practically stand up and do jumping jacks, and the coyote wouldn’t see you because of how keyed in on the dogs they become.
When you get coyotes up close, they get to barking and howling in your face, which gets your juices flowing and adrenaline up. The hunter must be careful not to miss the shot when coyotes are at close range and ensure the dogs are safe when shooting; you don’t want to injure one of your dogs or worse.
Question: What type of calls do you use when decoy doggin’?
Collins: The sound sequence when calling while decoy doggin’ is much different than when typically calling while hunting. We do not use any prey in distress sounds. Instead, we use all coyote vocals such as howls, puppy sounds, whines, and growls. We start with some howls, then will go into puppy sounds. The puppy sounds we are using are small sounds such as small pup distress and whines. If nothing responds, we will finish the stand with more aggressive sounds such as coyote fights, pup fights, etc.
Question: How does Swagger Bipods give you an edge when decoy doggin’?
Collins: When decoy doggin’, we typically use the Hunter Series 42’s or the QD42’s of Swagger Bipods. In the last couple of years, I have almost one hundred percent used the QD42s because they suit my hunting style. When decoy doggin’, we often have stands that last up to twenty to thirty minutes. By having our rifles resting on the QD42s, our guns are ready, and we do not experience any fatigue compared to holding our rifles up without any rest.
As for the hunter running the remote to the electronic caller or the remote to signal the dogs to return, the Swagger Bipods are essential to allow their hands to be free to use the remotes yet still have their firearm in a ready position.
Question: Can you share a recent hunt while decoy doggin’ this summer?
Collins: Since the spring, I have hunted in three states, Wyoming, Kentucky, and Kansas. The coyotes have responded well to our calls. However, a recent hunt that stands out while hunting in Kansas recently. We were decoy doggin’; we arrived early in the afternoon. We got settled in and had time to make a couple of calling stands. This stand took a little longer. Finally, an old warrior of a coyote responded to the call. He came running into close range, the dogs engaged him, and we shot the old coyote at twenty steps. For many hunters, twenty steps may not seem that close, but it is a rush when you get a coyote at twenty steps, barking, howling, and screaming in your face. To add to the excitement, the old coyote was aggressive, lunging and running at the dogs. When coyotes are aggressive while engaging with the decoy dog, you must be ready to make the shot when it presents itself. The Swagger Bipods help us to be ready when that split second of an opportunity arrives to make the shot.