Are you looking for an enjoyable winter hunting activity now that deer season is over? Consider coyote hunting. Besides helping out the small game and upland bird populations, hunting coyotes is a blast!
Many people don’t even realize just how many coyotes we have in our midst due to their reclusive nature. Not just song dogs of the West anymore, coyote populations are thriving – to the point of becoming pests – in almost all areas of the Midwest. Right now is prime time to hunt them as they mate during the winter months, particularly in February. This means that they become more visible as they tend to increase their range and daytime movements while searching for potential mates.
Ways to hunt coyotes vary, from calling them in, baiting, running them out of woodlots and ditches, to using dogs to track them and flush them from their hideouts. All are effective methods for hunting coyotes, depending on the number of people involved and how much property you have permission to hunt.
Calling can be done successfully anytime of season and is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable. All that is needed is a weapon (usually a small caliber rifle such as a .223) and either an electronic caller or some mouth calls. Rabbit squeals and fawn bleats work well. You can hunt them at night using a red light to see them, or try going out at first light and hunting throughout the morning. Set up along a wooded edge, fencerow, or along a ditch and start calling, but be ready because coyotes can come in running.
When calling, if you have permission on enough ground to do so, try to move locations every 30- to 45 minutes. If a coyote is going to come in, it should do so by then.
Baiting is as simple as it sounds. Simply place any type of likely bait in your desired location and they should come to it.
Flushing them from cover, either on foot or via the use of dogs, can also be done anytime, but is best when there is snow on the ground, making it easier to spot fresh tracks. Once you find a set of tracks heading into a woodlot, post hunters on the other side and along likely escape routes such as fencerows and ditches. Then walk through the woods or release your dogs and let the chase begin. For this type of hunting, a shotgun loaded with either 00 buck, #4 buck or T shot will do the trick just fine. Using a shotgun on any type of drive or flush situation is best for a few reasons. First, it is safer as these loads won’t carry as far as a rifle bullet will. Second, it enables you to take shots at a coyote on the move. I have successfully rolled coyotes with such loads chambered in 3-inch shells at distances pushing 80 yards.
To add a twist to flushing them, gather up some friends and start driving the roads at daybreak. Look for coyotes out in the middle of fields at first light. Often-times they will be cruising through open fields during the morning hours looking for potential mates. When you spot one, post hunters on fencerows, etc., towards where you expect the coyote to try to escape while others in your party walk in from the opposite side. The hunters posted on the escape routes may get a crack at one.
Some things to remember when deciding to hunt coyotes include: if hunting on private property, be certain to obtain permission before heading out in search of coyotes. Abide by all firearms and hunting rules and regulations. Practice safety! If calling and using a rifle, be certain to not only know your target, but also know what is behind your target as some rifle cartridges can travel more than one mile.
There is no closed season or bag limit set on coyotes in Ohio, but my personal favorite time to hunt them is now. As always, check your state of residence for any changes in coyote-hunting laws and regulations. They are more visible, a little easier to dupe at this time of year as they are out in search of mates and are also focused on keeping their bellies full during the winter months. Their coats are much prettier and fuller now also as they don their winter hides. This is also the only time of year when their pelts are worth any money.
Any way you decide to slice it, hunting coyotes is an enjoyable winter activity – and the service that you are providing to the rest of the wildlife species makes it that much more rewarding!
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Top Photo: With coyote populations ever on the increase, taking out as many of these predators should be on every hunter’s mind.