DOG DAYS OF WINTER   1 comment

coyote/south dakota

Coyote hunting is a great off-season hunting experience.

The cold crisp days of winter, cause canines (fox and coyote) to look for sunny and protected exposures out of the wind.  Dogs love sunshine and will curl up in protected areas.  They are particularly vulnerable to hunting during winter.

As with all types of hunting, the hunter who learns all he can about his quarry will be the most successful.  In Illinois, there are two kinds of fox, the red and the gray, as well as coyotes.  Gray foxes are less widespread and tend to be more nocturnal.  Hunters are less likely to encounter them.  Grays are probably only about 20 percent of the total fox population.

Your chance of seeing a Red fox is more likely. They possess a well developed sense of smell, hearing and eyesight.  Their senses help them to locate food as well as provide protection from other predators.

Coyotes range throughout the state in ever increasing numbers.  Often mistaken for the domestic dog, they are really easily distinguished.  Domestic dogs run with their tails in the air.  Coyotes always have their tail pointing toward the ground.

Coyotes are the largest of Illinois dog population with the red fox second and the gray fox the smallest.

The wild members of the dog family feed on small rodents, rabbits, birds and eggs.  They will also eat fruit, berries and other vegetation as well as carrion to survive.

The fact that they love sunny exposures, in sheltered places out of the wind, is an established fact.  Fox hate the wind.  It makes them nervous and they will leave a sunny area is the wind becomes a factor.

Hunters can scout out an area on a sunny winter morning with a pair of binoculars.  Carefully look over possible bedding areas along wooded edges.  Other places to check are brush, stumps, known den sites, and sheltered ravines.

Once you can see fur, it is time to stalk.

Stalking canines is the same as stalking any other animal.  One moves out of sight of the animal and into the wind.  These two actions conceal the hunter from the keen senses of sight and smell.  By walking quietly, you thwart the sense of hearing.  Once in position for a shot, the rouse the animal from his slumber by a single call from a predator call.

Predator calls are an effective way to get a shot.  The plan includes a good call, camouflage clothing, and some type of cover scent to mask human scent.  As the hunter moves, it is important to work into the wind and not make any unnecessary noise.  Wear camouflage from head to toe.

Choose a pattern of camo that blends into the area.  If there is snow, then white is the color.

To camouflage the hunter’s scent, a cover scent or scent elimination spray is used.  Do not put the cover sent on clothing but rather on a cotton pad placed slightly downwind from the hunter’s location.  Most cover scents are natural to the environment and will not spook the quarry.

Both electronic and mouth calls can be used when hunting a small grain field surrounded by woods.  In larger areas, the electronic call may be better.  The sound from an electronic call will travel greater distance as the call volume is adjustable.

Wild canines are opportunistic feeders.  They will come a running at the sound of a wounded rabbit.

Begin with a soft call.  By starting with low volume for five minutes and then increasing the sound, a dog concealed near by, will not be spooked.  Blow the call for about 30 to 30 seconds and then wait four minutes.

Gradually increase the volume and repeat the action.  If nothing appears in 30 minutes, move to another location.  If one is spotted, continue to use the call.  This will maintain his interest.  Slightly lower the volume as the animal gets closer.

Typically, they will not come directly to a call.  By circling the area they insure that there is no danger.  But, if the hunter has done his homework, the quarry will approach.

Wild members of the dog family are crafty animals.  Hunters have pursued them for hundreds of years in an attempt to wipe them out.  Still they flourish and expand their range.  A hunter who pursues them and is successful in taking one, has a trophy that is one of which to be proud.  Hunting them in winter is interesting and challenging.  Give it a try this year.

 

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