Archive for the ‘Coyote’ Tag

VARMINT HUNTING – AN OFF-SEASON CHALLENGE   Leave a comment

Coyote 0001

A piercing sound breaks the early down silence.  It continues until you think it will never end.  It is the sound of a rabbit in distress that goes on and on.  Actually, the sound emanates from an electronic game caller.  The purpose is to attract a hungry coyote, raccoon or fox.

Suddenly from across the field a coyote appears with his nose to the ground.  He lopes along in search of the easy meal promised by the sound of the call.  He just appears on the edge of the brush and silently moves along it toward the sound.

These electronic calling machines lure hungry predators into more open areas and close proximity to hunters.

There are two kinds of calls, electronic and mechanical.  The mechanical call requires a bit of wind power supplied by the hunter.  The electronic caller is easier on the hunter by producing an electronic reproduction of recorded sounds.

Electronic calls have powerful output, a longer duration of play, more accurate sound, a wider variety, can be operated hands free and usually use distress calls to attract the predator.  An advantage to mechanical calls includes that they are lighter weight, compact, inexpensive, have a more variable pitch and offer great personal satisfaction form their successful use.

Both types of calls also have disadvantages.  The electronic call is a more expensive investment, has more weight to handle in the field, is larger and requires maintenance as well as the re-charging of batteries.

Mechanical calls can have too much or too little volume according to the skills of the user.  The require movement of the caller which can call attention to his location.  They take some practice and in cold weather can freeze up due to saliva accumulation.

A key to varmint hunting is to set up in a good habitat situation.  It might be brush near a creek.  Many animals use waterways as highways to their feeding areas from a den or bedding area.  The caller sets up downwind of the direction from which he expects the prey might come.  Hunters must be ever mindful of his concealment until it is too late for the predator.

An ability to remain motionless is vital.  Therefore, good optics and warm clothing are a must.  In cold weather without warm clothing the hunter can be miserable.  The good optics enables the hunter to see the quarry long before would otherwise be the case.

Unlike calls for waterfowl, turkey and deer, the predator call is not a type of communication between members of the same species.  The imitate food species in distress.  Most common is the sound of a rabbit in trouble.  The shrill, high pitched call can be ear-splitting.  As the predator approaches the sound he will become more keenly wary of his surroundings.

One way of coaxing predators the last few yards is to implement “squeaker” or coaxing calls.  Usually those are ones that make a squeak of a mouse, softer sound.

Normally a nocturnal animal, coyotes can be lured into range in the early morning or late evening.  On cloudy days, the sound of a call can stir hunger pangs in the predator at most any time of the day.

Land owners welcome coyote hunters as a way of controlling the predation of their household pets and farm animal such as chickens.  Hunting predators benefits ground dwelling wild birds and upland game by eliminating a major source of predation on their numbers.

By learning the daily habits of the quarry, studying vocalizations that attract them and exercising some practice, the hunter can find himself in possession of a fine trophy in the off season.

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.

 

WINTER PRESENTS NEW CHALLENGE FOR SOUTHERN ILLINOIS OUTDOOR FANS   Leave a comment

coyote in winter

Coyotes have a tough time finding food in winter but wildlife watchers are more apt to see them.

 

A red fox dives for fleeing mice in field of brown grass.  An eagle soars overhead calling to its mate with a shrill scream.  A white-tailed deer browses on the edge of a thicket.  Canada geese rest in the wetlands.  This is Illinois at its wildest.

The woods and fields are alive with wildlife.  Nature lovers can find all sorts of birds and animals to watch throughout the county.  Especially popular is bird watching and eagle tours.  But, other areas can provide equally interesting viewing.

A variety of vegetation and terrain in this area attracts and holds numerous species of birds and mammals.  Two hundred and thirty-seven species of birds are resident, migrants, or frequent visitors.

Watching wildlife does not take a lot of expensive gear.  Binoculars and some guide books are a good beginning.  Field guides assist in identification and help at home when reviewing ones notes from a day afield.

When heading out, be sure to take a notebook.  Field notes should include the date, location, weather conditions and animal behavior, along with any unique observations.

Beginners must learn to identify animals and birds by sight and sound.  Noting the color, shape and other outstanding observations make it easier to identify species.

Familiarize yourself with animal behavior and favored habitats.  For example, deer tend to prefer thick cover until late in the day when they move out into fields to feed.

Learn to recognize animal habitats.  This knowledge assists in identification and helps to eliminate species not associated with a specific habitat.

Advanced wildlife watchers learn the calls and songs of mammals or birds.  This helps to identify those species hidden in dense cover.  By familiarizing oneself with bird songs and mammal calls, one can chase down each sound until he discovers the source.

The direct approach is not the best way to seek out wildlife.  Wild animals must always be wary of possible danger and when an intruder comes straight at them it usually signals a threat.  By acting disinterested while sneaking a glance now and then, you may be able to observe the unfolding drama of their activities.

It is important to be patient and avoid direct attention to the animal encountered.  Appear disinterested.  Fiddle with vegetation, look away from the animal while moving slowly closer and you will be able to approach much closer than you would think.  Staring at an animal causes them fear and uneasiness.  Quick looks are much less obvious and less likely to make the animal nervous.

Some animals such as ducks and geese can become very approachable due to constant association with human activity.  Other animals are so skittish that the first hint of the presence of humans sends them fleeing.

Generally, however, the use of patience in observing wildlife works well.  It will result in closer views for you and less intimidation for the animal.  Watching wildlife can be challenging and educational.

 

BEST WAY TO FOOL COYOTES IS WITH SCENT CONTROL   1 comment

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One of the best and least used tools in hunting coyotes is scent.  Volumes are available on the subject of scent as it relates to deer hunting.  The following is an attempt to clarify the picture as it relates to late season coyote hunting in Illinois.

Predators rely heavily on their sense of smell to lead them to food as well as to keep them out of harms way.

There are two basic types of scents: cover scents and attractant scents.  Cover scents conceal the natural odor of man and the odors his body can absorb.  Cover scents divided into mild and strong scents.  Examples of mild scents are the scent wafers that generally smell like acorn, pine or cedar.  Such scents are for use in areas where such scents occur naturally.

Strong scents come from the urine of other mammals, such as deer, fox, skunk or bobcat.  As the name implies, the odor from such scents is strong.  Never place it directly upon the hunter or his clothing.  To do so may cost you your happy home.

Apply strong scents to cotton, cloth or a pipe cleaner and place downwind of the hunter.  Dip the absorbent fabric into the scent and place downwind because coyotes tend to approach their prey from that direction.  They rely on their nose to tell them exactly where the prey is located and if some other animal is in the area.  The strong scent blends with and camouflages the scent of the hunter.

Hunters should also attempt to make themselves as human scent free as possible.  The best way to keep a coyote from becoming alarmed due to human scent is to eliminate the human scent before ever entering the field.  But, it requires dedication, commitment and extra time.

The first step is to wash all hunting clothing with a scent‑free laundry detergent.  One such product is Scent‑A‑Way by Hunter’s Specialities.  Dry the clean clothing without using any scented fabric softener.  Using those scented sheets in the drier add fragrance which defeats the purpose of using the scent‑free detergent.

The clothing must then be stored in a bag that will keep them from absorbing other odors.  Early attempts usually involved placing them in plastic garbage bags with such things as dirt, leaves and other assorted items that smelled like the hunting area.  Today, you can use the commercial bags and include with earth scent wafers.  It keeps the clothing odor free and still clean.

Just being scent free or just using an attractant alone is not enough.  Combine the two to produce a certain effect.  Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will prey upon young deer.  Using a doe urine product can fool them into believing that there is an easy meal in the area.  The attractant scent of doe urine, combined with a fawn bleat can fool ole wily coyote even though the does are not dropping fawns at that particular time of the year.

The hunter himself should also take care to avoid absorbing odors.  Natural body odor comes from bacteria release by the body in perspiration.  It is a good idea to take a shower just before going into the field.  It helps to use an unscented soap such as Ivory or any of the other commercial products on the market.  Some of the odors we absorb from our environment are cigarette smoke, gasoline fumes, after shave, hair spray or oil, and cooked foods such as bacon or other animal products.

To avoid the food and other odors, there is just no other way to go than to avoid them.  Do not smoke prior to going into the field and once there definitely do not smoke while calling.

The combination of lack of human scent, addition of attractant scents or cover scents; coupled with an effective predator or fawn call, can fool coyotes.  They have fantastic senses you can be fool.

 

CHOOSING A BULLET FOR HUNTING SEASON   2 comments

Recently at the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) business meeting in Tunica, MS, I had the opportunity to meet with some of the folks from Brownells.  They are a company that supplies firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools.  One of their divisions is Sinclair International, (www.sinclairintl.com) a supplier of items for the precision shooter. 

Never having been much of a target shooter, my knowledge of such things is quite limited.  Target shooting for this hunter is limited to sighting in scopes and practice with them prior to hunting season. 

While talking with the Brownells folks (www.brownells.com) they intrigued me with the idea of choosing a bullet for hunting.  For many of us older shooters, the choice of bullet for a particular species usually comes from friends, fellow hunters, and ammunition companies.  Seldom is any real thought and planning likely to go into the selection.  Often it is a matter of going to a gun store and asking for ammo for a particular species. 

That is not always bad, but perhaps we should look more into the selection process. 

Sinclair lists FOUR BASICS that should go into choosing the proper bullet. 

1.  WHAT IS THE INTENDED USE?  The choice should relate to the size of the quarry.  For instance, small game considerations should factor into consideration the ranges are usually short and expansion should be limited.  The later is to avoid excessive meat damage. 

With varmints, where you may not be trying to save a hide or meat, as in ridding a ranch of prairie dogs, quick expansion is good. 

For medium size game such as deer and antelope, quick expansion provides quick kills.  You might also consider terminal velocity and energy but it is not critical.  Most modern bullets will do the job. 

With large game, penetration and controlled expansion are critical.  Terminal velocity and energy are important.  A flat shooting bullet that does result in a quick humane kill is not a good idea. 

For dangerous game, they recommend what ever it takes to stop the animal.  Here big heavy, controlled expansion bullets or solids are the choice.  Again, terminal velocity and energy are factors. 

For the competition shooter, the choice depends upon paper or steel targets and down range distances.  Such items as knock down power, penetration, and expansion are not usually considerations.  The exception might be steel plates at great distances in which case knock down power becomes important. 

2.  WHAT IS THE YARDAGE?  For unknown ranges, a flat shooting bullet is best.  If the range is known and you can adjust the scope or sight, you want the most accurate available. 

3.  WHAT IS THE TWIST RATE OF YOUR RIFLE BARREL?  Fast twists allow greater accuracy with long or heavy bullets.  However, try various bullets to find out which works best with your rifle. 

4.  IS PRICE A CONSIDERATION?  For the high volume shooter this can be important.  For hunters just sighting in rifles, it is a good idea to use what you plan for the field.  Serious competitive shooters can often get away with low cost, bulk or seconds for practice and saving the good stuff for matches.  For assistance in finding the right bullet, Sinclair sells Bullet Sample Paks containing 12 bullets for the handloader.  They come in popular brands and calibers.

OFF SEASON HUNTING   Leave a comment

It is summer and you put away the hunting gear until fall.  NOT!  For the dyed in the wool hunter, the season is never over.  Just the quarry changes from season to season. 

Flexible hunters with a good imagination can always find another quarry to pursue.  They just have to keep an open mind.  True, hunting rats or pigeons is not as glamorous as hunting that big whitetail.  However, it can be equally as challenging and helps to hone skills that might come in handy next fall. 

One must also remember that dispatching a woodchuck with a clean, humane shot still is vital to the hunting experience as would be a trophy whitetail deer.  It is a self-imposed moral responsibility to maintain the same high standard of ethics all year round. 

When one speaks of varmint hunting, the mind conjures up a view of a coyote coming to a call.  Nevertheless, there are other varmints out there to hunt as well.  Do not forget the pigeons, rats, gophers, and woodchucks that are available.  Coyotes are in this same group.  Except for the woodchuck, up can hunt the year around.  Some states do have a specific, if not generous, season for woodchuck hunting.  Usually it does not conflict with other hunting seasons. 

Among the game birds that are huntable in what is traditionally the off-season, is the turkey.  With both a spring and fall season, this bird provides many opportunities to polish those hunting skills and a chance to be in the woods. 

For the bowhunter, there is also bowfishing for rough fish and frogs.  Frogs have a specific season in most states but the rough fish are a year round target.  The extra tackle for bowfishing can be purchased at a local archery pro shop or by mail order.  The cost is minimal and the equipment provides years of enjoyment. 

Coyotes are probably one of the most challenging of the off-season quarry.  They are available in good numbers the entire year.  The sundog requires skill in hunting, scouting and calling.  It is a chance to try out that new camo pattern and perhaps a new deer rifle or bow.  The small size of this canine makes proper shot placement a must. 

Pigeon shooting helps to control their numbers and is a good warm up for pheasant, partridge, dove and quail season.  Their darting flight presents and interesting challenge to even the most skilled of shooters.  Pigeons are available to the hunter all year around.  They make an interesting fill in for the more popular game birds. 

As if there are not enough game animals available, one can also go to a shooting preserve to pursue such game animals as wild boar.  This European immigrant to the country is available in a number of locations across the country.  It is one of the most popular big game animals hunted by bowhunters.  If the preserve is large enough, a very challenging hunt is available for a minimal cost.  In most states, feral swine are not a game animal with a specific hunting season.  They are a nuisance animal and are hunted all year. 

During the summer months, the “grass rat” is king.  In addition to the woodchuck, other rodents in this category include Norway rat, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and gophers.  All of these rodents present difficult and challenging targets.  Hunting them benefits landowners, upon whose grain crops, they feed. 

Only your imagination limits your off-season hunting opportunities.  For the truly dedicated hunter, off-season hunting is fun and worthwhile in itself.  Additionally it gets one away from the lawnmower or painting the family home.

HUNTING THE MODERN COYOTE   2 comments

Whether it is the last hunting of the year or the first of the next year winter is a good time to get in some quality hunting time.  There is nothing like sitting motionless in the brush near and open field in hope that your calling will lure one of these wild dogs.  The reward is a fine pelt to be mounted or displayed as a rug. 

No longer is the coyote the song dog of the west.  They have expanded their range to include all of the lower 48 states.  Here in Illinois, they are a common sight from Chicago to Cairo.  Coyotes have developed a tolerance for man and his intrusion.  Even in areas where they are not heard howling they are still to be found. 

One of my friends tells me how he does not have a coyote problem.  Then he decided to clear some land for a pond.  While building the pond he shot 5 coyotes.  He has not been aware they are around and the pond is within 100-yards of his home. 

Hunting coyotes requires a mix of stealth, calling skill, shooting speed and accuracy.    Decoys work well in areas where coyotes become call shy. 

By combining a decoy with a howl call and a distress call imitating a rodent or bird, one enjoys the challenge of the chase.  Place the decoy facing toward you at about 30-yards in a clear shooting lane.  The wind should be in your face to fool the coyote’s sense of smell.  By keeping the sun to your back the eyesight of the coyote is impaired putting the odds in your favor.

 You should be in full camouflage that blends with the surroundings.  It is important not to move as coyotes notice the slightest movement.  Weapons should be camouflaged as well.  At the very least all reflective surfaces should be dulled with camo tape. 

Coyotes generally kill for food and are likely to take injured, young or sick small mammals or birds.  They also kill just for the sake of killing.  They are predators and take a significant number of fox.  Most all animals in their territory represent food to them.

 As a result of their constant search for prey, coyotes are particularly inclined to come to the sound of animal in distress.  You can alternate distress and howl calls to lure in a curious or hungry coyote.  Begin with a soft call so as not to alarm any coyote that may be close to your location.  Even if one is spooked keep up the calling sequence.  Other coyotes in the area may still come in to you.  Coyotes are known to hear such calls from as much as 2-miles away and will come to the sound location.

 If a coyote replies to the howl call, wait for at least 30 minutes.  During the wait try howling once or twice again.  Never call more than once every 10 to 15-minutes.

 If the quarry stops just out or range try coaxing it into range by use of a rodent call such as a squeak.  Just before shooting emit a bark and the animal will usually look up and offer a clear shot.  The target area is just behind the front shoulder where the lungs and heart are located. 

Basic equipment for song dog hunting is a decoy (can be made from an old coyote pelt stretched across a taxidermist form or cut out from a piece of plywood and painted), a call or calls (electronic or mouth), bow and arrow, or shotgun.  Rifles can be used but because of the brushy nature of ourIllinoishabitat they are not always successful in getting in a shot before the animal vanishes into the brush.  The usual rifle used is in such calibers as: .243, 22-250, 222, and the 22 magnum rim fires.  Shotguns are usually a 12-GA or 10-GA. 

Hunting coyotes is great fun.  They are a trophy or you can hunt them to help control their population and depredation of the small game in the area.  Some days they will make a fool of you and others you will of them.  Regardless they are a great challenge during those periods when other hunting is limited.

Posted 11/09/2011 by Donald Gasaway in Firearms, Hunting Small Game

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