OK anyone who has hunted the 09 deer season already knows why this post is going up! We have shot only six deer this year and we normally shoot 20. I am not complaining, simply stating fact. Of the hundred or so hunters and groups I have talked to the math is this, successful deer hunters are down about 70% over last year. We have two choice’s at this point in our season, we can kill all the remaining deer and starve the coyotes or we can manage the deer and the coyotes. I suppose you all know what my solution is? OK so it is going to be supplemental feeding of the deer herd that is left and if the snow gets deep we will run the plows and snowmobiles into the wintering yards to allow some freedom of movement and some escape routes from the marauding hoards of coyotes. As far as the coyotes go it is going to be a war… bait piles… calling… trapping… and even running the hounds if I can find a group that is willing to hunt down here.
One of the best methods to manage extreme coyote numbers is to get some savvy hunters with some serious varmint rigs and go on a calling and scouting mission. First thing is to find some coyotes, no problem if there is snow on the ground, just drive until you see a plethora of coyote tracks, dead stock and road kills are another big attraction for coyotes in the winter.. Make sure you get landowner permission and then have a look at the lay of the land. You need to have a solid strategy for your approach and as with all hunting wind direction and cover are job one when approaching a coyote’s home turf. Coyotes like cover and a good vantage point from which to see danger and prey, so look for wooded or brushy hillsides with a swamp and/or heavy cover nearby. Glassing with quality binoculars can sometimes yield coyotes laid up on hillsides in the late morning and early afternoon, they need the vitamin D from sunlight just like the rest of us.
So now you have found an area that has coyotes and you think you know how to approach it without getting busted! Lets figure out how to get some shooters into position so we can get down to some calling. Best time to go is early morning and set up right at first light. Two hunters are good, three is even better and you will all need to use full camouflage! If it is winter snow camo is excellent, make sure you dress for the weather and the cover. Camo your rifle and all your equipment coyotes have extreme eyesight so don’t underestimate their vision. Three hunters in a triangle formation shooting away from each other is optimum, about 20 yards apart is good and have the caller in the thickest cover whether using hand held or electronic callers. A confidence decoy can really help, a plastic rabbit or owl and sometimes crow decoys can add a touch of realism to a dying rabbit scream and right now it is breeding season so a coyote decoy can work well too! They make some really good electronic decoys now that mimic a wounded animal and sometimes I tie a rag or bit of fur on a low hanging branch so it waves in the wind but whatever you use make sure it is well away from the hunters and in an area that you can shoot to easily without moving.
When coyotes come to a call they invariably will J-hook or circle into the call, sometimes they will pause at a distance and survey the situation before committing so be ready and alert fro any movement in all directions. KEEP STILL when you spot your quarry don’t jerk your head or the rifle up but wait for the right time to move when it is looking elsewhere or behind some cover. don’t be whispering or talking to your hunting partners until it is necessary. Make sure you use enough gun… to steal a page from Rourke! I like the fast 22 center fires… rim-fire rifles are not enough! My favorite is the .204 Ruger but I also use a 25wssm and a .270WSM depending n the area and circumstances! Good quality optics are a must and if you spend as much or more on your rifle scope as you do on your rifle you are going to be much more successful. Often I will carry a 3.5 semi shotgun like the SBE II with 3.5 #4 buckshot…. this is deadly out to 75 and even 90 yards with a long taper buckshot tube made for varmints! Some hunters carry both a long range center fire and a shotgun and load what the think they will need. In all cases obey the local regs and sunset and sunrise times are your responsibility to learn. If your not going to process the fur then find a local trapper who will… do not waste the hide!
In closing I want to say this… the common belief among biologists is that you cannot control or eradicate coyote populations by hunting. The wildlife biologists believe that the coyotes will just alter their breeding habits and reproductive rates to overcome any unusual pressure on their sustainable population. Most of this can be confirmed by researching any of a myriad of studies that I will not quote or repeat. The growing deer herd over the last twenty years is responsible for the growing predator numbers and this is just nature, again just look it up the research is there for all to see. But… and this a one of those buts that I cannot prove but I encourage you to listen to… I believe that these biologists and the studies that they entertain have not taken into consideration the relentless nature of the new hunter and the new tactics and equipment that they employ! As soon as the snow hits the ground I am baiting and calling and hunting coyotes every chance I get… I set aside a few minutes every morning and night to glass and call and I can see a bait pile from every window of my house. I drive to work and everywhere I go with a varmint rig at my hand! I am only one of a large number of dedicated hunters who hunt this way and the exciting sport of coyote hunting is growing exponentially! I think we can win the coyote war… I know I can affect the local population by hunting…. I have done it for twenty years now and I am not stopping any time soon! How bout you get on board and do your part too?