Coyote Hunter's Library

Not a fake list, all books are from my own shelf and covers were scanned by me.   Thanks to Rich H. for sharing his bibliography and filling in some holes.


Book Reviews For anyone who likes to read and hunt, here are some short reviews on a collection of book titles about coyotes, their behavior, and coyote hunting. There's probably something in this list that will interest you.

The types of coyote books Going beyond the anecdotes, pictorial essays, and mythology, there are even divisions among the hunting "how-to" books. In a lot of the hunting books, the table of contents from one looks almost identical to the next. The big difference seems to be in the content, style, and eventually the index, where all the detail is cataloged (or not). In the end, a good story line that keeps your interest is just as important as skillful organization and quality content. Authors probably deserve categories too, such as conservationist, hunter, professional manager, or salesman. Here you'll find some comments about which parts of a book set it apart from similar titles, notes on how well sourced the book is, and any other details that might make a book unique.

Buying a used book Many of the books listed here are out of print. However, they can still be found for sale at a used book vendor now and again. If you're lucky, they may even be cheaper than they were when they were printed 20-30 years ago. Look for good to excellent condition, possibly a library released hard bound edition with a dust jacket, or a like-new paperback, for a few dollars, plus a few more for shipping, certainly less than the price of a new glossy full-color edition today. Some, in lesser condition, can be had for just the price of the shipping alone, if by chance a book dealer is clearing his shelves of a title you want. Others may cost considerably more than they did at the time they were printed.

The Coyote "How-to" formula So what makes a good coyote hunting book? Reviewing the hunting titles listed here, the table of contents often looks the same from one book to the next. The regular formula for the coyote hunting/predator calling how-to genre looks like this.

  • Introduction. The author marks the territory and gives you some of his history, usually including a few hero shots to go with his bone fides. By the end of the introduction you'll know whether he's intelligent, entertaining, down-to-earth, preachy, snobby, or just plain boring.
  • The Game. The second chapter will tell you a bit about coyotes and the author's experience with them. It will at least give a brief summary of the species, behavior, and biology. If you're lucky, you'll find a discussion of the pack's social order, seasonal changes, the reasons they come to sounds, some historical basis, some discussion of management techniques, and a dose of conservation.
  • Calls, Callers, and Calling. Whether it's a hand call, an electronic, or your own vocal cords, this chapter should explain what they are and introduce their use. While one author may describe the use of a few hand calls, a more thorough discussion can spend a lot of pages devoted to the noises and noisemakers that pull in varmints.
  • Guns and ammo and so on. The author usually gives you some options and then states his preference. A good book will go into much more detail and include sections of various weapons, the variety of ammunition, and maybe include some basic reloading. You might be lucky and find sections that go way beyond high-speed small caliber center-fire rifles. Better would be separate sections on slower rifles, shotguns, bow and arrow, and pistol hunting, each of these requiring different techniques to be successful.
  • Finding coyotes. Here comes the section on scouting and looking for likely territory.
  • Stand selection. Narrowing geography down to the fine points and actually picking a likely spot from which to call and shoot.
  • Closing the deal. Making the shot gets less attention these days. Good sections on marksmanship are largely lacking in most of these books.
  • After the fact. Skinning and hide preparation. Back in the 60's, 70's, and 80's, there was a flourishing market in coyote and bobcat hides. It could be downright profitable. There was a resurgence a few years ago that added some value to the market, but it collapsed with the economy. For some, hide preparation is an art. Others may leave them lay. Hide prep gets some great coverage in some of these titles and almost none in others.
  • The other game. Some authors will include a few pages, others full chapters, dedicated to calling lions and other cats, bears, or the odd critters, like fox, coons, crows, or javelina. You won't see these in the "average" book. They are the things that lift a book above average.

That's what is meant by "formula." An average coyote hunting book will make an attempt at each of those topics above. For an above average book, it's the extras that can set a book apart from the pack, in terms of both form and content.

Form more than formula Many of the newer and nicer titles are now full color and are just more fun to read. Illustrations in B&W are extremely useful, but full color pictures are a welcome added feature. Some books go above and beyond, are downright beautiful, picture books first, content second, worthy of anyone's coffee table. Other welcomed features are a good index and a bibliography. If the book is short, it's relatively easy to find that passage you want to read again just by thumbing through it, but that isn't true in a book with 300+ pages of text and no pictures to help bookmark the location in your memory. Scanning through a book with no distinctive landmarks, could take a while to navigate back to the passage you're seeking, so a good index is always appreciated. Any scientific material should also include citations, so if you're interested you can look for more information. If a book is one of your favorites, it's great to find a reading list for more of the same. A couple of these scientific titles had great citation sections with more than a thousand references to other works.

The best books have style Beyond form, there is the added content that can set a book a cut above it's peers. A good book is fun to read and it is written for anyone who hunts coyotes, regardless of the state they call home. Two extra items that appear in the better books are the writer's personal anecdotes and his mistakes. Reading about some of the funny, strange, or bizarre situations we all occasionally find ourselves while pursuing game is a welcome addition to a long string of dry facts. Without that enjoyment, I may just put a book down, no matter how accurate it is. One of my favorites with a lot of extra content is Jim Dougherty's Varmint Hunter's Digest. It includes chapters on hunting with bow and arrow, hunting with pistols, added firearm information, odd varmints, winged varmints, night hunting with spotlights, lots of women hunting, and a section for misadventures where we all can laugh about our stupid mistakes and the things that inevitably go wrong. The Digest was assembled in the 1960s and may seem a bit dated, printed on coarse paper in black and white, but Dougherty's book is an infinitely readable classic and should be at the top of this heap. Gerry Blair's 2nd edition of Predator Calling is another favorite of mine. The old Arizonan conveys his depth of experience with a sense of humor, witty story lines and tasty full-color pictures using an updated outline from the old Digest. Gerry took an old classic format and made it his own.