Are you looking for the right remedy to curb cabin fever?
Well, believe it or not, all you have to do is — step outside. There’s no better time to pursue one of the most wary and proficient predators in the woods — the coyote.
The coyote first appeared in New York state in the 1920s, and now the State University of New York College of Environmental
Science and Forestry (SUNYESC) says coyotes are in every county in the state. In March 2006, police chased a young coyote around Central Park in New York City for two days before finally tranquilizing him. They even used a helicopter during this chase.
It is estimated by SUNYESC that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 coyotes in the state.
In New York, we have the eastern coyote, which averages between
35-45 pounds, with some males weighing between 50-60. Their coloring is a grizzled gray, with small patches of black or reddish blond. When moving, unlike a normal dog, they carry their tail low. They breed in February, an ideal time to hunt them.
There is evidence that coyotes, especially in the Adirondacks, take a toll on the whitetail deer population. Suprisingly, the number of deer has been increasing in all Adirondack counties, but there’s also evidence that the coyotes may limit deer numbers in certain regions. The deer that I shot during the last day of the regular season in Saratoga County was being chased by a pair of coyotes.
Small dog and cat owners should be concerned. According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a confrontation between a small dog and a coyote will depend a lot upon the behavior of the dog.
Livestock problems with coyotes are frequent; most involve sheep, chickens and ducks. Those who have coyote problems are encouraged to contact the U.S. Department of Argriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services in Castleton at 477-4837 or on line at www.aphis.usda.gov.
They have suggestions about what what can be done to your property, in terms of high fences, brush removal, etc., to discourage coyotes.
REQUIREMENTS & RULES
For hunters, there’s a more permanent solution that can be taken from Oct. 1 to March 25 — hunting. Coyote hunting regulations in New York state are fairly simple. You must possess a legal and current small-game or any of the combination licenses that include a small-game license. Coyotes can be hunted during this period, day or night, with or without a light.
You can use a handgun, bow,
rifle or shotgun loaded with any size shot. However, you may not possess a centerfire rifle afield during any open season for deer in an area restricted to using a shotgun-only for deer. Also, if you hunt without a light, the use of a light gathering (starlight) scope is legal on any firearm. There are no bag limits during the open season.
There are several other critters that fall under this furbearer hunting category. Raccoons and foxes are open from Oct. 25 to Feb. 15, and they, too, have no bag limits. The other predator that also has no bag limit is bobcat. However, there are different seasonal dates and many Wildlife Management Units that have a closed season. It is best to review page 46 of the New York Hunting & Trapping 2007-08 Official Regulations Guide.
The bobcat is one of several animals that must have a completed Furbearer Possession Tag attached to the pelt or unskinned animal.
Details of this procedure can be found on page 47 of the guide.
If you’re a whitetail hunter, chances are good that your favorite hunting areas already have coyotes. This would be especially true for farmland areas. The best areas are usually the woodlots and fields surrounding farm lands and if there are livestock such as sheep, chickens, pigs, etc., all the better.
Generally, if you have permission to hunt these lands for deer, you’ll also get permission to hunt coyotes. But don’t assume, ask the landowners first. If they have coyotes, they’ll quickly tell you. There are not many rural landowners with coyotes on their property that don’t want them disposed of.
One of the best areas and places to set up for coyotes on these farms is their farm dumps. If a farm animal dies, it doesn’t take long for a coyote to find it. And when they do, they continue to return until they’ve finished whatever they’re eating. Get set up near one of these carcasses, and you probably won’t have long to wait.
If you don’t have any particular areas to hunt coyotes, start knocking on doors, and chances are, as long as you present yourself well, are polite and assure the owner that you’ll respect his/her property, you should find a few spots to hunt. But if not, there are many state lands that have plenty of coyotes waiting for your call.
Locally, there are several state forests that can be hunted. In Albany County, Partridge Run in the town of Berne has 4,594 acres, and there is land in the Charleston State Forest in the Montgomery County towns of Root, 1,061, Glen, 100, and Charleston, 5,547. For more information on public hunting lands, check out the NYSDEC Web site at www.dec.ny.gov.
As far as what gun to use, I’m sure that if you’re a hunter, you have what is needed. There are some who hunt coyotes with a .22-caliber rifle, but I’m not one. I believe you really should have a little more horsepower. If you plan to hunt during the day, you’ll probably want something that can reach out 100 yards or more. For daytime hunting, your regular hunting rifle is more than enough. The ideal calibers are .22-250, 22 Hornet, .222 or my favorite, the .223.
Hunting coyotes during that first hour after sunup or just before sundown can be a lot of fun, but the most exciting hunting is after dark. There’s absolutely nothing more exciting than sitting on the ground, having a coyote answer your howling call and then having it go quiet when you make your squealing distressed rabbit call. You know he’s coming, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. It’s guaranteed to stand the hair on the back of your neck, and if you were cold, that adrenaline rush will warm you very quickly.
And how do you think you are going to feel when you turn on that red spotlight and find him just 20 yards or less out there, looking for that wounded rabbit? More chills up and down the spine.
For these close nighttime shots, you don’t need a rifle. In fact, with all this excitement, the best thing to have is a 12-gauge shotgun with either a modified or full choke loadewd with three-inch No. 4 buckshot. Chances are, if your nerves are rattled, you’ll need all 41 of those pellets.
Calling is a major part of coyote hunting, and there are two choices: mouth calls or electronic calls. Both will work, but I’ve found, and it still happens to me, when you get excited, your calling techniques and sounds can be weak. Therefore, I prefer an electronic call and one that has a remote speaker. By placing the speaker 25 or more feet from your position, the coyote’s attention will be focused away from you.
Regard the calling sequence, years ago I was told to wait five minutes before I begin to call. Begin with a 30- to 60-second call, then stop and wait at least five minutes before calling again. And while waiting, you should be listening and watching. When you resume calling, turn the volume of your calls down, and if after four or five sequences of calls nothing has appeared, it’s time to change your location. Be sure wherever you set up, it is in the middle of a cross-wind. All of the coyote’s senses are keen.
Last and equally important, especially for nighttime hunting, is a light of some type. Predator hunters often argue that a red light is better because coyotes cannot see red. Others say when they turn a red light on the coyote, it whirls and runs off. The best explanation I’ve heard is that if you tone down the brightness of your red light by aiming it above the animal rather than directly into its eyes, it will work.
The perfect time to hunt for coyotes is when the ground is covered with snow, the temperature is sub-zero and there is a full moon.