Coyotes are one of the most adaptable species in North America, and their diet and food habits can vary drastically throughout the year. If you’re interested in finding a good bait to attract coyotes to your traps, it’s important to consider naturally available foods in your area as well as foreign types of food that coyotes are attracted to.
The coyote is an opportunistic feeder, taking advantage of abundant food sources at different times of the year in different areas. Where I live and trap, coyotes feed primarily on rodents and insects (for instance, field mice and grasshoppers) during the summer months. They feed on small game like snowshoe hares and ruffed grouse, as well as other bird species throughout most of the year. In winter, they shift their focus toward larger game like deer and moose. Coyotes will also feed seasonally on deer and moose fawns as well as wild nuts and berries.
Trapping Season Bait
During the fur trapping season, the best bait to use for coyotes is some type of meat. Coyotes are attracted to beef, chicken, and most species of wild game. In addition, meat that may be less commonly found in a coyote’s natural diet can also work very well, including beaver, fish and horse meat. In my experience, deer or moose scraps and chicken work excellent and beaver meat is one of the best. If you can find them, bobcat meat and horse meat are excellent coyote baits. Coyotes will eat meat in all stages of decay, but I find that meat with a bit of age, that has started to develop an odor, is particularly attractive to coyotes. If meat is rotten, oftentimes coyotes will be more interested in rolling in it than eating it, which can make it difficult to successfully catch the coyote in a trap.
Summer Coyote Bait
If trapping coyotes during the summer months, mouse meat is a very effective natural bait to use. Other meats will also work great, and you might try using eggs or sweet foods like honey or jam. But ultimately, some type of meat is generally accepted as the best overall bait for coyotes. So which type of meat, and which stage of decay is best? That all depends on the area and specific situation, and this is where trial and error and experimentation come into play. It’s one of the challenges involved in catching coyotes, and keeps things interesting!
Many professional lure makers sell prepared baits for coyotes, which include some type of meat along with a number of other scents and attractants blended in. These are a great option when you don’t need huge volumes of cheap bait and don’t have the time to experiment with what’s the best bait to use. I would try to select a bait from a reputable lure maker that has successfully sold baits throughout the country. Below are a few options.