It’s always coyote season
SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Late winter nights when the moon shines blue on bare trees, coyotes howl up and down La Harpe Crik.
Coyotes howl to mark their territory, to call members of the pack back in from a hunt, or to find out where other coyotes are prowling. Some say when a coyote answers another’s howl, the boundaries will be respected and the first howler will go on down the crik.
Coyotes are the only animals in Illinois for which there is an open hunting season. There is a coyote-trapping season, just like there is for all Illinois furbearing animals. But if you’re a hunter, it’s always coyote season. And the rules are fairly lenient. Illinois coyote hunters can call them in with electronic calls and even hunt them with dogs. Plus, you can shoot them at night from Nov. 10 to Feb. 15. spotlights can be used by a person on foot.
In Illinois, coyotes take a toll on small game, upland birds, white-tailed fawns and even pets that live outside. Landowners with livestock don’t want coyotes around. Those farmers, who might not allow other types of hunting, will sometimes welcome a coyote hunter.
Because there are so many of them, and because of the open season, coyote hunting sounds a lot easier than it really is. White-tailed deer are wary, turkeys can get call-shy and an old cock pheasant will run a mile before he flies. But none of these creatures have to be on the lookout for hunters year-round.
If you’ve never hunted coyotes, a good place to start is the same places where you hunt turkeys and deer. The coyote you saw slipping out the side door when you were sneaking into your deer stand is still around.
Get a predator call and practice with it before you go out. Practice a lot. For daylight hunting, calling is the key. Most coyote hunters go out in full camo and set up on the ground, calling from behind a fallen tree, in a brushy fencerow, or even behind a stump. Any place that breaks up a hunter’s shape and still offers some clear shooting lanes will do.
Coyotes have a home range of several miles. A day’s hunt may include multiple setups over a distance of three or four miles.
Hunters who can successfully call one in are mindful of the wind direction. Coyotes won’t come in on the dead run like a rattled buck. Expect a slow and cautious downwind approach.
Just like in deer hunting, the first shot you get is likely to be your best one. Make sure your target is within your effecting shooting range.
On sunny cold days — if you want to try still-hunting — you might catch a coyote napping on a sunny hillside. Make your approach with the wind in your face, and use the lay of the land to stay out of sight as long as possible. If you can get within 100 yards of him, take your best shot.
Coyote hunting is about as challenging as hunting gets in these parts. If it were easy, there would be no need for an open season.