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George Little: Outsmart the wily coyote

February 15, 2013 at 07:31 PM

The State Journal-Register

The coyotes are howling right after dark. It’s that time of year.

A male coyote howls first. If an unattached female likes what she hears, she answers the call. It’s wild country speed dating.

Wildlife biologists contend that coyotes mate for life and raise between three and nine pups every year. About half the litter makes it to adulthood. Those pups can live as long as 15 years.

In folklore and literature, the coyote is frequently called “the trickster” and is portrayed as an animal that is intelligent, inventive, evasive and clever enough to survive. Real-life coyotes are all that in spades.

They are smarter than domestic dogs, can run faster than most of them and have adapted to a wide range of environments. In addition to taking up residence in major cities, coyotes have been spotted trotting down sidewalks in Springfield and just about every small town in Illinois. One of our prairie coyotes would have the Looney Tunes character, Wile E. Coyote,
for breakfast, and then enjoy a roadrunner for dessert.

Because it is challenging, coyote hunting has become very popular. Ammunition manufacturers have responded with new “varmint” loads. These flat shooting, high velocity rounds have been designed for long-range accuracy.

If you’re hunting private land in this neck of the woods, coyote hunting offers the opportunity to hunt with a center fire rifle. Long-range shooting creates the need for increased safety awareness on the hunter’s part. Because the bullets travel faster and farther, it’s even more important to pay attention to your shooting background and to practice at distances you intend to shoot.

Because they are so prolific and have no natural enemies, coyotes are the only wild animals in Illinois that can be hunted year-round. You can hunt with a pistol, a rifle, a shotgun or a bow. All you need is a hunting license, habitat stamp and landowner permission. If want to give coyote hunting a try, the best place to start might be the same places you saw coyotes running during deer season.

Coyotes will respond to electronic, or mouth calls, that imitate a small animal in distress.
Good coyote callers say it’s harder than calling in a turkey because coyotes are more wary and they can smell you long before they see you. Hunters should set up with at least a 180-degree field of vision. Keep the wind in your face.

The calling sequence should last three or four minutes. A coyote may come running or he may slink in close to the ground, sticking his nose up in the wind. If nothing responds to your call in 15 minutes, move a quarter of a mile, set up and start calling again.

Beginner’s luck may be hard to come by when a coyote has already had a close encounter with a hunter. The “trickster” learns fast.

If hunting him were easy, there would be no need for an open season.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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