As a kid I was always in the woods and it was probably inevitable I was going to try calling coyotes sooner or later. Somewhere about the ninth grade I ordered a “varmint” call from a store in Marble Falls, Texas owned by a couple of brothers named Burnham. The call came with a 45 rpm record but I only listened to the record a couple of times because I’d already heard jackrabbits squealing since before I could remember. My high school buddy, Mario Hernandez, and I set out to call coyotes and we soon found that summoning Old Wiley while sitting in a tree was a lot more successful than wooing them from the ground. The only suitable gun I owned at the time was a Winchester model 12 full choke in twelve-gauge. But Mario owned a true varmint rifle: A Winchester model 43 in .218 Bee. We made several attempts before we had any luck. One crystal clear and very cold day we climbed a couple of leafless mesquite trees and I issued a fusillade of enticing notes and within a few minutes a gang of coyotes appeared. Mario’s .218 Bee cracked and we had our first coyote.
A couple of 50-year old Burnham Brother's Calls
Pictured below is the second coyote call I purchased about six months after I’d bought my first Burnham Brother’s call. It’s from a long defunct mail-order company called Herter’s that was by far the best outdoor store that ever existed! The call pictured produces a higher pitched sound reminiscent of a cottontail in distress. I never found it as successful as my Burnham Brother’s calls but I used it now and then.
I don’t call coyotes anymore since I don’t hunt much these days. Somewhere along the line I lost my taste for hunting and now I just enjoy sneaking up on critters and watching them. The aging process perhaps—I don’t know. Over the years I’ve relied less and less on handheld mouth-calls to coax coyotes in close. These days I just make the sound of a distressed rabbit with my mouth. Nonetheless, when I think of those days long ago I remember hunting with my pal Mario and climbing mesquite trees and about the time Mario got bit by a bunch of pamorana ants and had to jump down almost twenty feet and about sleeping on makeshift cots in the deep woods and showing up at band practice smelling of skunk scent and, of course, those old coyote calls that I still own along with a bunch of others I acquired over the years. Those calls are dear to my heart and speak to me of a time that sadly doesn’t exist anymore.
Part of my "varmint" call collection
PS: If you want to read more about varmint calling in South Texas then look up my book, Adios to the Brushlands, from Texas A&M University Press. You can find a link above.