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The “Dog Days” of Winter

As we roll into the late days of the winter season, the hunting crowd starts to get a little bored; the deer and turkey seasons are all over, albeit there is still some small game hunting for those into running rabbits or picking off squirrels.

There are some other hunting pursuits out there as well, and I was reminded of that last week when I saw several vehicles parked along the road equipped to haul hunting dogs — not rabbit dogs, but coyote hunting dogs.

Every year at this time, I see the trucks along the road, and I can hear the hounds howling in pursuit of a coyote. What’s interesting is that the dogs will often run their prey for literally several miles before a shot rings out and someone downs the coyote. From what I understand, the gang managed to get one coyote, and the dogs were on another that got away.

Obviously, pursuing coyotes with some good dogs will likely increase your chances of success, but most of us don’t have access to well-trained coyote-hunting dogs.

The alternative to hunting coyotes with dogs is to go out and park yourself in a likely spot and do some calling. That’s not to say that you have to call to get a shot at a coyote, but it will certainly increase your chances considerably.

Several years ago, my wife, Sheila, and I were hunting deer when a coyote just happened to come strolling past Sheila heading in my direction. She nailed the coyote with one shot; it was the first one she’d ever seen in the wild. I’ve seen a few while hunting deer or turkeys, but I have never been able to get a shot.

With a few exceptions, there is no closed season on coyotes and no limit on how many you can take. Coyotes can be hunted day or night, but my guess is the early morning and late day hours are probably the best times.

No fluorescent orange is required for coyote hunting except during any big game season. In fact, most serious coyote hunters, at least those into calling, recommend wearing camouflage, including white, when hunting snow-covered terrain.

Coyotes also have an excellent sense of smell, so a cover scent might go a long way to improving your chances of a reasonable shot.

Speaking of getting a shot, I find that most serious coyote callers seem to prefer some type of rifle with a scope; a 22-250 comes highly recommended, but I suspect most any deer rifle would get the job done.

The good thing is you can get into hunting coyotes without spending a lot of money; most hunters already have a deer rifle or two and sufficient camouflage, and with the addition of a mouth call or two, you are probably ready to go.

Many serious coyote callers prefer the open reed call that makes all kinds of sounds, including bird sounds, rabbit squeals, fox squeals, coyote yips, barks, and howls. The sound of a squealing rodent can produce, and probably one of the most used calls is the high-pitched raspy cottontail call. If you really plan to get serious about coyote hunting, you can even get into the electronic calling equipment.

A coyote hunt might be a good way to break up the boredom of the late winter season; after all, it doesn’t look like there will be much in the way of winter ice fishing coming our way.

I may need to get out for a coyote hunt since my wife’s coyote mount staring at me every morning when I come down the stairs is a constant reminder that she got one and I didn’t!