Instructions on Howling.


New member
BudmanDan requested that I record some sound clips with the new howler I built him (see "Whackem 'n Stackem Howler" on the Hand Call Maker Forum). I thought this would be a good opportunity to give my perspective on howling coyotes.

Note: These are not the best of recordings, as they were done inside my jeep, prior to shipping the howler to Dan.


I'm, by far, no expert at howling coyotes, but these are my opionion and techniques that I've learned by trial and error over the past few years. I don't have a Doctorate Degree in Animal Behavioral Science. This equates to don't take this as Fact, as I'm sure my opinions are wide open for debate. This is just my perspective and what I found that works for me.

Much like duck calling, there a bunch of vocalizations, but I only use 3 or 4 when hunting. There is no reason to get fancy with your howls. I keep to short howls, leaving less room for error.

I primarily use the Interrogation Howl, Challenge Howl, Ki-Yi, and Pup distress.

Getting Started

I know it may sound funny, but how you hold your howler makes a big difference. I practice howling every day and found the following technique allows me to hold consistent notes on a howler. I place my index, middle, and ring fingers on top of the howler, with my thumb and pinky on the bottom. Pinch the bands on the mouthpiece with your index finger and thumb. Use your pink for the tilt (up and down), like your drinking a cup of tea in England. I get a good solid and controlled hold with this placement. Now here's the reason...

Tilt your howler up at about a 45 degree angle and rest your index finger on your top lip. Place your thumb against your chin. I tried freehanding a howler for the longest time and found this technique allows me to hold a non-breaking constant note by not shaking or wiggling the howler. I use my thumb to slide the howler out of my mouth to change the pitch. Also, I use one of my 2 front teeth to add pressure on the reed. Find out what works best for you, but this is what works for me.

By applying pressure at various points along the reed bridge, you can change the pitch. Deeper back produces a deeper sound, closer up produces higher pitch.

When using a howler, like most any calls, use your diaphramn to blow the call. If your cheeks are puffed out, then you're using your mouth. Keep your cheeks tight and use your stomach to force the air.

Like anything else, Practice is key. I practice every day going to and from work while driving. Much practice can be done on the mouthpiece without the horn. It will save your ears from ringing, as well. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif Another great practice technique is to drive out into coyote areas at night and sing along with them. You'll here thousands of combinations and notes from coyotes and I just do what they are doing. Imitating them is the best practice.

Basic Sounds

Coyote vocalization is made of of basically 4 sounds. The Aggressive Bark, Non-Aggressive Bark, Constant Howl, and a Fluctuating Howl. Practice at these 4 basic sounds and you are on the road to mixing them up into vocalizations.

The Aggressive Bark requires quick/short puffs of air. This is a deliberate and hard bark. Much like any other canine that is a bit ticked off. Pop your tooth off the reed while doing this.

Aggressive Bark

Aggressive Bark on mouthpiece

The Non-Aggressive Bark also requires quick burst of air, but on a much softer tone. You'll hear coyotes do this in a non-alarming fashion. Same tooth popping technique just alot softer and milder tones.

Non-Aggressive Bark

Non-Aggressive Bark on mouthpiece

The Constant Howl is a long drawn-out howl that is non-alarming. The tone is constant, without any pitch changes. Find your tooth or lip placement and keep it there for the remainder of the howl.

Constant Howl

Constant Howl on mouthpiece

The Fluctuating Howl is a howl that changes pitch from deeper to higher. It's an aggressive howl. With your index finger against your top lip, quickly slide your teeth/lip a short distance up and down the reed to produce and up and down pitch change. I've also found that you can wiggle the howler and get a similar effect. I'm still working on the best technique for myself, as it is my most challenging.

Fluctuating Howl

Fluctuating Howl on mouthpiece

That's the 4 basic sounds. Practice them and get them down pat, as they are the building blocks to producing the vocalizations I use for howling coyotes.

Putting Them Together

The Interrogation Howl (aka Lonesome, Locator, etc..) is made up of some Non-Aggressive Barks and a Constant Howl.

Interrogation Howl

I refer to it as my "Hello Howl". I use this howl for locating coyotes. It means "Hello, I'm here....Anyone else out there?". They may return with an Iterrogation Howl, a Challenge Howl, or just come in silently to check out the newcommer. I use this quite a bit for locating coyotes. Especially in pre-dawn hours before I make my stands.

The Challenge Howl is distictly different than the Interrogation Howl. There is no mistaking the two. It is made up of Aggressive Barks and a Fluctuating Howl.

Challenge Howl

I refer to this as the "I'm Gonna Kick Your Butt Howl". It means, "Back off Jackson, this is our spot!". It's a bluffing technique that coyotes use. Slip into their core area and throw out some Challenge Howls. Sometimes, they may Challenge Howl you back and forth for a period of time. Othertimes, they will come in silently, looking for a fight. They will have the hair standing when they come in. This works great in the Spring.

Another great sound to learn is the Ki-Yi (aka. Hurt dog, Hurt Pup, Coyote Distress). It requires tooth placement on the first 1/3 of the reed bridge and fluctuating your tooth placement, similar to the Fluctuating Howl. You are trying to imitate a hurt canine, like a dog hit by a car.


You can produce Pup Distress sounds by Ki-Yi with the mouthpiece.

Pup Distress on mouthpiece

This is another Springtime coyote-getter sound.

Something to avoid

One howl that I don't want to do, is an Alarm Howl. I call it the "Busted Howl". It means the gig is up and every coyote in hearing distance knows it. To me, it sounds similar to the Challenge Howl, but it is made up of Aggressive Barks and a Constant Howl.

I try not to do this.

Busted Howl

Like I said, I'm no expert, but this is what works for me. There are a bunch of other vocalizations with Yips and Chuckles, but I find them personally challenging to produce and don't use them when hunting. I stick to the basics and get good results from them.

Of course, I maybe wrong...

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That's exactly the information I was looking for. It turns out that the challenge howl sound that I was making last season, with my red desert howler, is alot closer to an alarm howl than anything else. Boy that sure explains alot!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smiliesmack.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smiliesmack.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smiliesmack.gif I can't wait to get my new howler in the mail. I'll be sure to put some pics out on the board when I start to WHACKEM AND STACKEM /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gifthis fall. Thanks alot for taking the time to put this thread together. I'm sure I'll be using it as a referance in the future.

Good Hunting, Budmandan
Tony, thats so doggone neat !!!!! I'm not a howler, but I practice it, the interrogation sound is exactly what I try to do, thought that was right sound to ask " is anyone out there "
Super, super, super.
Richard Grantham
I found one more sound clip that I recorded and forgot to post. It's a Prey Distress (rabbit,deer,fawn) on the the howler mouthpiece.

Prey Distress

I appreciate the comments guys. Hope the information helps.

This is one of the best instructional posts that I have read. Outstanding information! I think that this post should be locked/pinned/secured whatever so that it is easily referenced in the future.

Superb post Tony!

Thank you,

Cactus Rat

Thank you for pointing this out. I appreciate it.

You are absolutely correct that this my opinion. What I love about Predator Master's, is that we have the right to share opinions so that readers have more than one man's perspective on the topic. That's what helps folks become better callers. These are just techniques that I use to help stack up the fur that you see in the hunting photos on my website.

I have updated the original post with a clarification that should stand out.

Thanks a lot Tony! This is exactly what newbies like myself need. I've had some success at howling but its not consistent. Sometimes I wonder if some aged coyote over the hill says to his buddy "do you hear that idiot who thinks he's a sick yote?" I've heard the alarm howl once (didn't realize that's what it was at the time) right after I shot a yote with my bow and two others were around where it had died. They barked and howled for a long long time!

Actually, I believe you may have heard the Very Rare, Non-Documented..."Charlie just got stuck through the ribs and Dropped Over Howl". /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif j/k

Wow, very nice recordings Rich. That 2nd one is my favorite.

I'm glad this topic isn't a "Howl Off" contest. As, I would be sure to lose. It is more intended to share my techniques that I personally use to locate and howl in coyotes.

I'm feeling a bit hijacked.

I understand and Thank You Rich. That's kinda what I was trying to do. Simplify howling to the basics of 4 simple components and mixing them into the basic 2 types of howls I use.

We're seeing Eye to Eye.

I don't see anything harsh about Rich sharing his technique as did Tony. Seems like a good place to put several "variations" to the howling technique. It goes to show that there are certain coyote vocals that work, and you don't have to sound just like the vidoe that you watchhed, or the seller that you bought from, or your neighbor, or your buddy that does all the calling all the time, etc.
Just goes to show, much like th distress sounds, we all have our favorite, but we all need to open our ears and hear what else works and keep an open mind to new and differant sounds.
Harsh, not hardly. Fine job to the both of ya!!