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“Wile E” coyotes tough to hunt

January 26, 2012 at 11:51 PM

The State Journal-Register

The coyote is called “the trickster” in Native American folklore. The legendary animal is portrayed as intelligent, evasive and clever enough to survive anywhere.

The real-life coyote is really no different. There is a wild coyote population in every state except Hawaii. “The trickster” can live in all climates, in rural areas, suburbia and in big cities. Coyotes run the streets of Los Angeles at night, raiding Dumpsters and garbage cans.

There are probably coyotes living in Springfield right now. Out in the wild country, one of our prairie “tricksters” would have the hapless Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote for breakfast and then enjoy a roadrunner dessert.

Coyote hunting is becoming so popular that new lines of equipment, firearms and ammunition have been developed especially for those who want to hunt predators. Here, it’s an opportunity for people to try their hand at long-range shooting with center fire rifles as long as it’s on private land, with the landowner’s permission. On public land, such as Jim Edgar Panther Creek, there are firearm restrictions, and the hunter should check with each individual site office for site-specific regulations before hunting.

There aren’t many restrictions involving coyote hunting, but if you have questions, don’t take your buddy’s word for it. Page 28 of the Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest will tell you what’s legal and what isn’t. Save yourself a potential problem with a conservation police officer and know the rules before you go afield.

Because they are prolific, have no natural enemies and prey on fawns, upland species, small pets and livestock, coyotes are the only wild animal in Illinois that can be hunted year-round. From now until midnight Feb. 15, coyotes can be hunted 24/7. After Feb. 15, hunting hours are from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

Coyotes have a highly developed sense of smell, keen eyesight and good hearing. Tricking the “trickster” into showing himself requires a well thought-out game plan that includes concealment and a line of sight to several possible avenues of approach. Coyotes are wary. If one catches a glimpse, or a whiff, of something out of the ordinary, you’ll never see him.

Coyotes will respond to electronic or mouth calls that imitate small animals or fawns in distress. Your calling sequence should last three or four minutes.

Before you start, make sure you are well hidden, keep your movement to a minimum and use the wind to your advantage. A coyote may come in fast, or slink in testing the wind with each step. Experienced hunters say if he doesn’t respond to a call within 15 minutes he probably won’t. Move a quarter to half a mile, and repeat the calling sequence.

The “trickster” is a fast learner, especially when he’s already had a close encounter with a hunter. Hunting him isn’t easy. If it was, 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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