wolves vs coyotes

How to Differentiate Wolves from Coyotes: A Guide for Hunters And Outdoor Enthusiasts

Are you an outdoor enthusiast who loves exploring the wilderness? Being able to distinguish between wolves and coyotes is crucial for safety and for understanding these fascinating canine creatures.

In this guide, we’ll delve into their physical traits, behaviors, habitats, so that you can learn to tell them apart and we’ll also look at their conservation status.

Physical Characteristics Of Wolves And Coyotes

eurasian wolf


  • Wolves are larger and more robust of the two species, typically standing 26-32 inches at the shoulder [1].
  • A Wolf’s fur can vary in colors, such as black, gray, white, or brown, often with a mix of these shades [2].
  • A defining feature of wolves is their thick, bushy tail, which aids in communication as well as balance [3].
  • Wolves have short, rounded ears and a broad head with a pronounced forehead [4].
coyote prowling


  • Coyotes are smaller and more slender than wolves, averaging 21-24 inches at the shoulder [5].
  • A coyote’s fur is coarse and usually grayish-brown in color, which helps it blend into various environments [6].
  • Coyotes have a slim, bushy tail with a black tip, which distinguishes them from wolves [7].
  • They have large, pointed ears and a narrow head with a sloping forehead [8].

Behavioral Differences Of Wolve and Coyotes

pack of wolves in snow


  • Wolves are highly social animals, living and hunting in packs that range from a few individuals to over 20 [9].
  • Their vocalizations, including howls, barks, and growls, serve as communication within the pack and to establish territory [10].
  • Wolves are efficient hunters of large prey such as deer and moose, using teamwork and strategy to take down their quarry [11].
  • Wolves are territorial creatures, fiercely defending their territory from other wolf packs [12].
coyote on the prowl


  • Coyotes are adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats, from forests to deserts to urban areas [13].
  • They are primarily solitary or live in small family groups, though they may form larger packs in areas with abundant food [14].
  • Coyotes communicate through high-pitched yips and howls, which help them locate each other and establish boundaries [15].
  • Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, hunting small mammals, birds, insects, and even fruits, depending on what is available [16].

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3. Habitat and Range

grey wolf


  • Historically, wolves had a vast range across North America, Europe, and Asia [17].
  • They prefer wilderness areas such as forests, tundra, and mountainous regions where they can find ample prey [18].
coyote in rocky terrain


  • Coyotes are found throughout North America, originally residing in central and western regions [19].
  • Due to coyotes’ adaptability, they can thrive in various environments, including urban areas. [20].

4. Tracks and Signs


  • Wolf tracks are larger and more elongated than a coyote’s, with a distinct symmetrical shape and visible claw marks [21].
  • Their scat is larger and may contain remnants of bones, hair, and fur from their prey [22].


  • Coyote tracks are smaller than wolves and more oval-shaped, often showing claw marks [23].
  • Their scat is smaller and twisted, often containing berries, seeds, or small animal remains [24].

5. Conservation Status Of Wolves And Coyotes

northern rocky mountain wolf


  • Historically, wolves faced significant declines due to hunting and habitat loss, leading to their listing as endangered species [25].
  • Conservation efforts, including reintroduction programs and habitat protection, have been crucial for their recovery [26].
coyote in open field


  • Coyotes are not considered endangered and have thrived despite habitat loss [27].
  • They are managed through hunting and trapping regulations to maintain a balance with ecosystems and human populations [28].

Final Thoughts On The Differences Between Wolves And Coyotes

Being able to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes enhances your outdoor experiences while contributing to their conservation. By understanding their physical traits, behaviors, habitats, and conservation status, you can appreciate these remarkable creatures responsibly.

If you encounter wolves or coyotes in the wild, remember to observe from a safe distance and avoid feeding them.

Stay safe and enjoy exploring the wild!


  1. National Park Service – Wolf Size
  2. International Wolf Center – Wolf Coat Colors
  3. Wildlife Online – Wolf Tail Function
  4. Defenders of Wildlife – Wolf Anatomy
  5. National Geographic – Coyote Size
  6. The Wildlife Society – Coyote Coat
  7. Arizona Game & Fish Department – Coyote Identification
  8. Animal Diversity Web – Coyote Anatomy
  9. Yellowstone National Park – Wolf Pack Dynamics
  10. International Wolf Center – Wolf Vocalizations
  11. National Geographic – Wolf Hunting
  12. Defenders of Wildlife – Wolf Territories
  13. National Geographic – Coyote Habitat
  14. The Humane Society of the United States – Coyote Behavior
  15. Animal Diversity Web – Coyote Communication
  16. University of Michigan – Coyote Diet
  17. National Geographic – Wolf Distribution
  18. National Park Service – Wolf Habitat
  19. The Humane Society of the United States – Coyote Range
  20. Animal Diversity Web – Coyote Habitat
coyote on the prowl

Coyote Hunting For Beginners: The Complete Guide

Did you know that coyotes have excellent senses, particularly smell and sight? As much as coyote hunting is an exciting and rewarding experience, these characteristics make hunting them a challenge.

To help you out, we’ll be sharing crucial tips for beginner hunters and experienced hunters alike to get you started in the right direction.

Key Takeaways

  • Successful coyote hunting relies heavily on calling techniques, certain equipment, and a hunter’s skills.
  • Coyotes have a keen sense of smell, so hunters must pay attention to wind direction to ensure their scent isn’t carried towards their prey.
  • Hunters must understand the regulations and obtain necessary permissions for hunting on both public and private lands.

The Correct Gun/Caliber

hunting rifle and rifle bag

When it comes to coyote hunting, the first thing to consider is your equipment. A reliable tool will help you hunt successfully and deliver a humane kill.

Consider an AR-15 rifle as an effective tool for a successful hunt. In addition, the ideal coyote hunting calibers are .223, .243, 223/5.56, and .308 calibers.

While you can also use a shotgun to hunt coyotes, consider a 12-gauge loaded with a number 4 shot as your best bet. Also, don’t forget to attach a high-quality, low-magnification scope to your rifle to improve your accuracy.

Aside from your choice of rifle, your hunting skills matter. You want to ensure you aim for a coyote’s vital organs, like the lungs or heart, leading to an ethical harvest.

Coyote Calling 101

Coyote calling is one of the most effective hunting techniques for locating coyotes. The aim is to mimic the sounds of other coyotes or distressed prey animals, forcing the creature to come and investigate the noise, giving you a shot to kill it. 

coyote on alert

First, you scout the area for coyotes. You can do this by looking out for coyote tracks and droppings, also known as scat. Coyote droppings typically contain bones, fur, and small animal remains. 

Once you have scouted a property, you’ll need the right equipment to call coyotes. Note that coyotes can smell or spot you from a distance, so ensure you’re concealed properly. 

Locator Calls

Now, coyotes use howls and barks to communicate with each other. A coyote hunter can take advantage of this trait to discover the location of any potential prey.

Many hunters argue that coyotes primarily howl at night or early morning. However, coyotes an and will howl at any time, as they have varying sleeping patterns.

coyote prowling

In fact, coyotes are most active during dusk and dawn, but those that live close to human settlements are often nocturnal. And those that live more remotely tend to be diurnal.

For a successful coyote trip, visit the hunting area before daylight. Let out different coyote howls at different points, preferably on top of a ridge or hill, as the sound will carry well. Listen keenly for a response.

If you do this two or three times with no response, keep moving and repeat the tactic at a different place. Once you get a response, mark the area. You can choose to be patient and wait for them or leave and return later. 

Distress Calling

Distress calling is an effective technique hunters use to attract or locate coyotes in the wild. The aim is to imitate the sound of animals in distress, in order to lure in a coyote.

Coyotes easily fall for this trick as they’re opportunistic animals, and a distressed call means that an animal is injured, and that translates to an easy meal.

coyote distress call

If you choose distress calls, you can opt for mouth calls or e-callers.

An e-caller is a much more effective solution as one might offer you different pre-recorded sounds you can use based on hunting conditions.

That said, do remember that while electronic calls are convenient, you’ll scare away your prey if you don’t use them effectively. One of the common mistakes we’ve seen in the field is using the same sounds used repeatedly by hunters. 

wary coyote

Another mistake we’ve seen people make is maxing the caller volume. Most people do this to attract as many coyotes as possible, including those miles away. Keep in mind that if you select the right hunting grounds, there will likely be coyotes nearby. So, when you blast an e-call, you may only be scaring them away from you.

Whatever type of predator call you pick, position yourself at a place with adequate cover, preferably downwind, as you await the coyotes to come within a good range to shoot.

Calling Sequences

Coyote calling sequences are a series of coyote sounds designed to mimic various situations that occur naturally in a coyote’s environment. To successfully attract coyotes, you need to mix up sequences. 

coyote in rocky terrain

Start off by using a lone howl in a low frequency and a high pitch. Do it two or three times, then sit in silence for a few minutes before trying a different vocalization.

Next, try out whines and yelps. Whines and yelps are versatile sounds that draw coyotes toward you and these sounds trigger different reactions simultaneously, including parental and territorial instincts.

Stay in one spot for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you don’t notice any coyotes approaching, try a different location.

Since coyote calling is a skill you learn over time, you need to experiment with different options until you find what works for you.

Aside from that, avoid making the mistake of calling too often or too little. You may end up scaring off coyotes or failing to entice some of them to come your way. If you’re in a closed-off area, avoid loud and long strings of calls as they might scare away the animals. But if you’re in an open area, louder and longer coyote calling sequences will come in handy. 

Wind Considerations

weather cock showing wind direction

Just like in deer hunting, wind consideration is crucial when hunting coyotes. You need to be mindful of your scent and the wind direction.

Coyotes are known to have a fantastic sense of smell that you’ll never outsmart. With this in mind, the wind should be blowing in your face to ensure your scent isn’t carried toward the coyotes. The last thing you want to do is to alert the coyotes of your presence and scare them away.

Adapting to Your Surroundings

You will need to adapt to the surrounding areas to hunt coyotes successfully. This is one of the basics essential to a successful hunt.


coyote in open field

Farmlands resemble open fields with very little cover. This makes coyote hunting somewhat challenging, as the coyote can easily spot you. So, when hunting these areas, try to conceal your position.

In terms of coyote calls, use a distress call that imitates a small animal like a bird, rabbit, or rodent. 

Additionally, you may want to use decoys to draw the coyote’s attention. For example, a decoy dog will attract coyotes by giving them a visual representation of the prey. Such dogs act as decoys by mimicking the sound and behavior of distressed prey animals.

Wooded Areas

Unlike farmland, a wooded area is made up of dense timber. This provides a good cover for you, the hunter, but it also provides cover for the coyote as well.

When hunting these areas, you’ll want to move quietly, using the woods to mask your presence.

wooded area

Additionally, invest in camouflage clothing to ensure the coyotes don’t spot you easily. For example, choose clothes that match the terrain and also wear a face mask to prevent the coyotes from noticing your face outline.

Also, remember that sound won’t travel as far in dense woods. So, adjust your calling volume and use short and frequent calls.


When hunting in hilly areas, you have the advantage of high ground to spot and call coyotes. Usually, these animals will travel along ridges and valley bottoms in this type of terrain.

coyote on side of a hill

Position yourself well around three-quarters up a hill and preferably with something behind you, such as bushes or trees to help break up your silhouette. Also, pay attention to wind direction to ensure it doesn’t carry your scent toward the coyotes.

Land Access

You have the option to hunt in either public or private land. Most regions have public lands for hunting, including state parks, forests, and wildlife management hunting areas. What you need to do is familiarize yourself with the hunting regulations of different regions, including any applicable licenses you might need in that area.

fence post on private land

Coyotes have adapted to human environments and tend to eat pet food left outside or even garbage. That’s why private land makes a good hunting spot for these animals. But, if you hunt private land, always be sure you respect a landowner’s wishes.

Approaching & Setting Up Your Stand Correctly

As we’ve mentioned, be sure to set up your stand location in an area with good visibility to see your targets.

When looking for a location, look for coyote tracks to determine if they’re in the area you’re hunting. Since they travel in packs, it’s easy to notice their tracks.

coyote on dead tree

Preparing yourself properly before you start shooting is also key. Most hunters choose elevated positions or an area with enough cover to conceal them.

Also, approach your stand cautiously, avoiding unnecessary noise that could scare away coyotes in that location.

Final Thoughts On Coyote Hunting For Beginners

Hopefully, this Coyote Hunting For Beginners article has provided some helpful tips to get you started on what can be an exciting time outdoors with coyotes hunting.

Remember to focus on making sure you have the appropriate gun and caliber, honing your calling skills, and paying attention to wind direction as well as your setup.

And, always be sure to follow all local hunting regulations for the area in which you are hunting.

Good luck!

wolf howling

How Big Are Wolves and What Do They Eat?

Few animals cause as much controversy as the wolf.

Their rugged and savage beauty has inspired people throughout the world.

While they’re considered an apex carnivore, their grace in capturing their prey or how they hunt is undeniable.

The wolf has captured imaginations for hundreds of years, however, they are not necessarily favorites of farmers.

While many people love wolves, their are many others that do not. This is especially true for some hunters, and even farmers, who may already be dealing with the damage that deer can do to crops.

Add in the occasional missing livestock animals and it’s easy to see why wolves may not be a farmer’s favorite animal.

However, it’s hard to deny that the wolf (or Canis lupus) has captured the world’s imagination for centuries.

As these wild creatures continue to roam the land, they’ll continue to keep us in awe for more to come.

Wolves have been the inspiration for artists and also prey to those who hunt them, and make up an essential part of the world’s ecology.

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Species of Wolves

Depending on where you live, knowing what wolf species can be found in your area will help if you’re a hunter or a farmer.

Preparing yourself by knowing which species of wolf that may roam your area is essential for protecting your property or helping to thin the pack.

In addition to learning how big the various species of wolves get, you may also be wondering where do wolves live? This list will help you with that question as well.

A question often asked is… how big do wolves get? Well, it depends on the species. But, regardless of species, they all are impressive animals in the wild.

The Grey Wolf

grey wolf

Grey wolf (photo: WikiMedia Commons)

If there’s a standard image for a wolf, then the Grey Wolf (or GRAY wolf) is what goes through many people’s minds.

Grey wolves are massive creatures. Adult grey wolves can stretch from four to six feet long and can weigh from as much as a medium-sized dog at forty pounds, to an impressive one-hundred seventy pounds.

Keep in mind that wolves over a hundred pounds are relatively rare, but it’s possible to see one if you’re in the right area. Grey wolves are found in North America and Eurasia.

And, while these animals are wild, the chances of them attacking you are extremely rare. No matter how Hollywood portrays them, they’d rather keep their distance from you.

The Timber Wolf

Timber Wolf is a general term for three subspecies (Canidae).

The Canidae family is large.

The timber wolf name makes up the Eastern Wolf, Northwestern Wolf, and the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf.

eastern wolf

Eastern Wolf (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Eastern wolf is usually found in the Great Lakes area of North America, particularly Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota.

The Eastern wolf can also be found in Ontario, Canada.

These wolves range average around sixty-five pounds and around 32 inches in height.

Northwestern wolves can grow as hefty a one-hundred pounds and can reach an impressive length of five to six feet.

They are usually found in Alaska and Canada.

northern rocky mountain wolf

Northern Rocky Mountain wolf (photo: Wikemedia Commons)

The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf is approximately seventy to one-hundred-fifty pounds.

This species is usually found in the Rocky Mountain area of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

While all Timber wolves have a similar appearance, body structure and coloring will set them apart.

The Red Wolf

The Red Wolf, also known as Canis lupus rufus, is a protected animal covered in the Endangered Species Act.

They will have a reddish tint to their fur.

red wolf

Red wolf (photo: WikeMedia Commons)

Their range is usually limited to Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina and has been seen as far south as Texas.

They are relatively small for a wolf at four feet long and forty to eighty pounds.

They stand about twenty-five inches tall.

The Arctic Wolf

This wolf, Canis lupus arctos, is a subspecies of grey wolf and is one of the enormous wolves around. It can reach five to six feet in length and weigh up to one-hundred sixty pounds.

arctic wolf

Arctic wolf (photo: WikiMedia Commons)

The Arctic wolf lives in the North’s harsh climates like the Arctic Circle in Canada and parts of Greenland.

This area is helpful for the species as they’re rarely hunted and have little fear of humans. Fortunately, a wolf attack is still rare.

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The Eurasian Wolf

These ferocious wolves are legendary in their size. They reach seventy to one-hundred seventy pounds and stand around thirty inches high. They also have a length of five to six feet.

Eurasian wolves are native to Europe and parts of the Soviet Union.

Eurasian wolf (photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Fortunately, they don’t interact with humans but are relatively resilient as they’re hunted heavily.

Their legendary status comes from their reputation that spans as far back as the medieval ages. In those times, an attack on humans was more common than today.

What do Wolves Eat?

Wolves are primarily carnivores (meat-eaters). They prefer to eat larger hoof-type animals like various types of deer, bison, elk, and moose.

Wolves will also hunt and eat smaller animals such as beavers, rabbits, and rodents. These smaller animals will supplement their average dietary needs. Wolves are also known to eat fish, but this isn’t common.

While meat is the main staple of a wolf’s diet, they have been known to eat berries as well. Still, the quantities are relatively small and not considered a dietary need.


Wolves have a large appetite and can eat up to twenty pounds of meat in a single meal.

While wolves can eat a lot, their eating habits can be feast or famine. So, if they find food, they’ll eat a lot of it. This gorging is especially helpful in sustaining them for the times when they can’t find much to eat.

While wolves are carnivores, they prefer to be as far from humans as possible. They travel in packs that can range for up to a dozen wolves. However, packs aren’t as tight as many would think. Wolves will leave an area if there are no resources and will only seek a new mate if their current one dies.

Wolves have long held a mystique to people around the globe. Their grace and savage beauty have earned them fear and respect, with many hunting them out of need or sport or working to save them.

Though wolves carry with them controversy, their resiliency in surviving in the modern world shows how strong they are and how far they’ve come.

They’ve capturing imaginations worldwide, and many religions around have held them in awe as well as honor.