George Block Column
The new kids on the block, coyote a tough hunt
It is always a worry when taking someone to a special hot spot fishing hole or hunting location. The place might be great, but when you take someone else there, it will be devoid of fish or game.
When it works, a special day is created – one that will be remembered for a long time.
So it was last weekend when Bobby Rogers of Ruff Creek called me about as excited as I have ever heard him.
Rogers is an accomplished coyote hunter and strictly calls them in. He has called in and bagged nearly 50 coyote, earning him the name “Coyote Man” from me, even though I know of people who have taken more with dogs and traps.
Over the weekend, Rogers invited Monte Hunnel to go with him for an evening hunt. The first spot they went to produced results. In fact, within three minutes of calling, not one, but two, coyote came running within range of Rogers’ coyote light and Hunnel downed his first wild dog.
Sometimes, things just work to perfection.
The large male Hunnel bagged weighed slightly over 40 pounds. Rogers is still waiting to get No. 50.
While I have heard of hunters seeing and, in rare cases, shooting coyote as far back as the 1950s, I still consider coyote hunting new in town.
There is no doubt in my mind that they are one of the most difficult animals to hunt and probably one of the most undesirable to have around.
The average coyote is in the 25- to 45-pound range, and once seen and identified, it’s easy to tell one from a larger dog. A coyote will carry its tail down when running, while a dog’s tail will be horizontal in similar circumstances.
The spindly legs, pointed ears and slender muzzles are dead giveaways. The most common color is light brown with some gray, but I have seen some that were black. A friend of mine downed one in southern Washington County that was black and white. The hunter worked for the Game Commission and biologists determined that it was a coyote.
While coyotes out west live in open country, the ones in the east prefer heavy brush. The female will have a den where the young are born and raised. It has always amazed me how small the entrance to a coyote den can be. The coyote can wiggle into a hole no larger than a foot wide.
Coyotes are oppportunists and will eat almost anything. Rabbits, moles, carrion and deer make up part of its diet. Many of the deer coyote consume are those found laying on the roadside, but they will also take a smaller deer, and in some parts of the country, they make a definite impact on deer populations.
The coyote is also famous for lowering the population of pet cats.
Coyotes are the fastest runners of all canines and can reach speeds of 30 mph, with 40 mph being reached in short spurts.
As far as hunting coyotes, they are one cagey animal. They usually come to a call with the wind in their favor, and many a hunter has called them only to be detected by the animal’s keen sense of smell.
I know it has happened to me, and when it does, you don’t even know the animal was close by.
The most common sound made by coyotes is not the howl we hear in movies, but a chorus of yipping. It is said that these evening serenades are done to keep track of each other.
Hunting season is not really over. When you hear yipping in the night or see a dog’s tracks in the snow, you might just be seeing signs of a coyote.
A good call and a light like the one Rogers uses is all it takes. A little luck helps, as well.
Coyotes are awfully smart.
• In a few days, the Game Commission will hold its January meeting. I can’t help but wonder what the chances are of the commission voting to give senior hunters a break when it comes to antler restrictions – the same as junior hunters.
I don’t hold much hope, but it makes sense.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.