Deer hunters who wait overnight to track a buck often find themselves concerned about coyotes getting to it before they can find it the following morning.
By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor
Sometimes the blood trail peters out and a late-night search isn’t possible without a friend helping the next day. Perhaps a last-light shot on a bow hunt put that “I’ll come back in the morning” idea in your mind, which we’ve all considered. Maybe the terrain is just too jungle-like for a nighttime search without a tracking dog or more time the following day.
Whatever the case, in the Southeast one of the biggest concerns is whether coyotes will get to the deer before you do. They’re aggressive, persistent and if they do get to your buck or doe, you’re not going to find much of anything but bones with scraps of meat on them.
Predator control as part of a year-round deer management program has been one of the hottest topics among managers, landowners and hunters for several years. The explosive growth, range expansion and cunning adaptation of coyotes is quite impressive, to say the least. As humans develop more land around cities, land that was or is “rural” farm or pasture land, coyotes are pushed out often briefly before settling into their new digs.
The neighborhood we live in has about 2,500 or so homes and was nothing but floodplain pasture and agricultural land with some hardwoods along a small river. Development began about 30 years ago. Coyotes did not leave; I see them in fields, killed on roads, and can hear at least three packs sometimes late at night yipping and barking in the woods near our home.
Effective predator control for deer hunters should be more than the occasional killing of a coyote or three during the hunting season. Although I darn sure don’t have a problem with any hunter knocking out a few song dogs during the season, it’s nothing more than a patch on a leaky pipe that will continue to drip. To repair the pipe you have to get serious.
Among the solutions:
Trapping: If you’re not a trapper or have no inclination to do so, don’t worry. Many states have trapping associations with diehard predator trappers who will gladly come and remove coyotes, bobcats, foxes, raccoons or other predators. These associations can put you in touch with people in your area who will run trap sets and work with you to meet your goals.
The benefits can be seen in reduced predators and an increase in game species such as turkeys and deer, provided you also have good habitat for those species to rear their young each year. Trapping isn’t a one-time thing, though. You’ll have to decide whether to commit to trapping as a year-round management tool, or at least when your deer season isn’t open if you don’t want an extra person or two and vehicles on your property.
Hardcore Hunting: Predator hunting is incredibly fun and tests your skills as a caller and woodsman. It takes a keen eye, stealth, patience and often yields a new hobby for you when deer season isn’t open. A key is to not fall into a rut of sitting in the same areas or calling the same way. That’s part of learning to be a predator hunter, though.
This story from our sister publication, Trapper & Predator Caller, offers some solid insights for you, too. CLICK HERE Although geared toward the northern hunter, you can pick up some good tips for calling and rolling with changes.
If you’re a turkey hunter, and many deer hunters are, raccoons are known to be egg-sucking raiders of turkey nests. Ask around about coon hunters who would be glad to come with their hounds to rid your property of these bandits. Check with friends, at church or work, or contact your state wildlife agency to see if they have some contacts. Biologists and game wardens often know a few hunters and might be glad to help you.
Deer seasons are closed or closing up north and are winding down in the southern half of the country. If you’re already thinking ahead to off-season management, budgets, planning and what you need to do for autumn, don’t overlook adding effective predator management into that agenda.