Today, individual deer management has evolved to new heights.
Food plots and the different products helpful for large antlers and healthy deer increase every year. If you don’t own land you certainly don’t care much about food plots, but everyone wants to see more deer.
However, there is one thing all concerned sportsmen can do to guarantee more deer for the future and that’s to rid your favorite hunting area of every coyote possible.
As an example, a trapper friend of mine caught a pair of coyotes in his home valley and hunting area. The deer population was hurting there; about 10 does and 2-3 sneaky bucks survived the season. You could hunt all day and never see a deer. By eliminating that one pair of coyotes the population almost doubled the next deer season. Instead of seeing does with one or no fawn, we actually saw mothers with both fawns. Amazing. Even better, there were more deer in the surrounding areas also. Coyotes can cover a lot of ground.
In areas infested with coyotes, fawn mortality is very high, at least 60%. In many areas, it can be as high as 70% or greater. What this means to hunters is your deer population will never increase enough and can actually decrease simply due to coyote fawn mortality and, yes, mature deer killed. As you can see, every coyote eliminated saves multiple fawns, any one of which could be a trophy buck a few years down the road.
IT’S NO secret coyotes and far too many doe licenses have pretty much ruined what at one time was one of the premier areas to hunt white tailed deer in the USA.
Game departments that should have been protecting the hunters’ interest and the deer they love to hunt have done exactly the opposite. As the number of hunters decreases, the deer should increase, but with coyotes in the mix and far too many antlerless licenses sold, this cannot happen. So, it is up to the sportsmen themselves to keep the coyotes down, something difficult to do.
Trapping coyotes can be a very effective method if you are proficient at it. Luckily, much has been written on the subject. Bait or scent is the best way to draw them in and coyotes have routes, trails and roads they routinely travel on. Usually they come around about every three days. When placing your set, remember, a coyote will never come straight in to the bait at a right angle to the trail. Always place your traps at an angle. Keeping your sets from freezing can be harder than getting a coyote to step in your trap. However, there are medias available which
won’t freeze. Trapping is always an education and great fun if you can outsmart an extremely cagey animal.
More and more hunters are using dogs to hunt coyotes and having good success. Again, this can be a chess match, placing watchers where the coyote may run, watching the wind, attempting to prevent them from holing up, keeping track of your dogs. On the other hand, what else can be as much fun this time of year or could be better for the deer?
HUNTING coyotes with a rifle or shotgun is probably the most challenging of these pursuits. You have to watch literally everything you do and be exceedingly careful to have success. Hunting at the break of day and late in the evenings, or even at night with a red light offers the best chances of bagging one of these wily and extremely suspicious animals. The wind is always your greatest enemy.
One method, if legal in your region, is placing small bait piles in areas you can observe at longer ranges, 100 to 200 yards or further if necessary. The edges of fields, pipelines, power lines or more open hillsides will allow the rifleman to place his bullet at a distance without being detected and at night if there is snow or using a light. The more sites you create, the better the chances you have at removing these vermin. Checking lakes after dark when the ice fishermen have left is another great strategy. Again, make sure the prevailing wind doesn’t allow the coyotes to scent you as you move into position and plan an approach that keeps you out of sight.
CALLING can be productive, but it’s difficult to see any approaching coyotes in wooded areas. Setting up so you can see the animal approaching can be very challenging as the coyotes always circle to get downwind at a distance. Other than having a field, river or lake at your back or using a partner to intercept the coyote as he circles down wind, it’s a tough set up to see them first and get a shot. Using a tree stand can work or setting up close to areas coyotes expect to smell humans can be an alternative. Try and remain scent-free.
Another more practical method, where legal, is to park your vehicle off the road where you wish to hunt, place your caller at least 50 yards away, leave a note on it with the date and time, get back in your truck and wait a bit. Then use your wireless caller from inside the truck. This isn’t road hunting, just using your truck as scent protection/blind.
The coyote pup distress call can be very effective at any time of year and the devil dogs will begin breeding soon; in February. Male howls usually get an answer this time of year. Practice shooting, make sure your rifle is dead on and don’t miss. It’s difficult to get another shot at an educated coyote.
Now is the time to thin out a few coyotes. It takes real planning and skill to bag one of these animals, but you will see your deer herd, rabbits, grouse and squirrels increase if successful.