Predators are Mother Nature’s way of keeping animal numbers in check. They are, also, her way of removing sick, injured, or weak animals so that the herd as a whole is healthier and stronger. Predators, also, need to be kept in check and they often make great sport in doing so.
Coyotes are a great case in point and a true story of survival as a species. Just a few short decades ago it was nearly unheard of to see a coyote in the Mountain State. When someone spoke about the devil dogs they had to be talking about some wild prairie land out west, or at least some overgrown lands west of the Mississippi River. That is not the case anymore.
Coyotes are a resourceful and cunning predator and they are now frequently seen not only in every county of the mountain state, but in every state in the continental U.S. Studies have shown that there are even populations of coyotes living in most suburban areas and even several major cities!
What is more concerning to sportsmen is that studies have also shown that during peak fawning months of May and June, nearly 60 percent of coyotes are feeding on the new born deer. Given this fact it is easy to see why such a resourceful and cunning creature quickly wears out its welcome.
Often times, it is this reputation that the coyote will eat anything it can chew that gets it on the most wanted list of predator hunters everywhere. With a liberal season and a wide array of hunting opportunities, what better way to keep your skills sharp in the off season than doing a little predator control.
If trapping is your forte, there is still time to venture out and get a few coyotes in the bag before the season closes on February 29th. Trapping coyotes can be a fun endeavor and a great way to spend a little more time outdoors.
Historically, many famous outdoorsmen started out as trappers such as Jim Bowie, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Trapping is where they learned to hone their skills at reading animal sign and tracking down their game. Where these iconic trappers were after wolves, todays predator trappers are chasing their smaller cousins.
If you’re not into trapping coyotes, a day of predator hunting could be right up your alley. It combines aspects of both deer hunting and turkey hunting to help hone your skills for the upcoming seasons.
Coyotes are very wary and have keen eyesight so be sure to take along your best camouflage to stay well hidden. Coyotes are also very opportunistic feeders so they find it tough to resist the sounds of a struggling or injured animal that might turn into a quick meal for them.
To complete the illusion of a wounded animal use a decoy to draw the coyote’s attention away just long enough to get a good clean shot at him as he slinks in to get his free meal. There are many commercial decoys and electronic calls on the market, but many hunters find success using a child’s stuffed animal placed in an open area where it can be easily seen to fool their quarry.
Winter is a great time of year to do some predator hunting no matter what method you are using. The cold and snowy months are lean times in the wild and that makes it a little easier to call in a hungry coyote with the offer of a quick easy meal.
Another great thing about coyote hunting is you can often get a few extra dollars out of a good pelt. Coyotes will keep their thick winter coat well into March and a well prepared hide can be sold at one of the WV Trappers Association Fur Auctions held in Glenville several times a year.
Even though trapping season for coyotes is over at the end of the month, if you are planning to hunt them with a firearm, then there is no closed season or bag limits either. You can even hunt coyotes at night using night vision or lights from January 1st through July 31st.
During night time hunting the caliber of firearm is limited to be less than .22 caliber rimfire or centerfire rifle and shot size of smaller than #2 for shotguns. Hunting is also limited to open fields during closed small game hunting or at night.
So, when cabin fever starts to creep in, grab your hunting gear and something that has a high pitched squeal like a rabbit distress call, and set up in a nice field with a good field of view and spend an evening doing a little predator control.
— Roger Wolfe is an Outdoor Columnist for Civitas Media. He can be reached at [email protected]