One of my favorite pastimes after the deer season is coyote hunting, which I usually begin after deer season.
This year, I got an opportunity to start in late November. I got the opportunity when I walked out of the woods from my bowhunting tree stand one evening.
The owner of the property had left a note on my truck to stop by and see him. When I got to his house, he took me to his barn and showed me the dried blood on the floor, and then we walked out behind the barn several hundred yards to where he had a dead calf.
Two days earlier, he had heard noise just after dark in the barn, and when he got there, he saw a coyote take off across the field. He found the calf was bleeding, and it died shortly after that. He said he had seen a pair of coyotes every once in a while and assumed they were the cause of the missing barn cats, but this was the first time any livestock had been attacked. He knew I hunted coyotes, and asked if I could help him. I said I would be there the next afternoon.
Early the next morning, I set up my chair blind on the edge of the woods about 80 yards from the calf carcass and added some old meat to the pile. It was obvious that something had already been eating there. I then headed to the range to re-dial in my .223 DPMS MSR. I knew the scope, a TW4x30 BSA tactical, and gun were a perfect combination that could shoot a sub-one-inch three-shot group with standard 55-grain ammunition, but for this hunt, I would be using something special, a custom load.
My friend, Paul Galcik of Schuylerville, had loaded up 20 rounds of 70-grain Speer softpoints with 25 grains of Varget Powder and CCI primers. This is the same load he used last year in his MSR and dropped a deer with one shot. I only needed to make a small adjustment to get these heavier bullets right in the center of the target. The coyotes were in trouble.
That evening, I returned about an hour before sundown with a five-round clip full of custom 70-grain ammo. Ironically, just
before dark, three deer entered the far end of the field about 150 yards from me, and one of them had what appeared to be a six-point rack, but they didn’t stay long once I started making my calls.
I made three calls, a dying rabbit, a critter distress, then a whining kitten, each at three-minute intervals. After each call, I slowly panned the field with Laser Genetics looking through the BSA. This new ND-3 subzero cold-weather laser designator is a new technology equipped with a unique circuitry that enables the green laser to operate down to zero degrees Fahrenheit without losing power.
It allowed me to rotate the collimator ring of green laser light up to three miles. The light allows you to actually paint (light up) Mr. Coyote and target him/her out to 250 yards. When the light hits the coyote, it really illuminates its eyes and body. The ND-3 includes a mounting system for one-inch scope tubes, and its size is ideal for mounting on a predator gun. It’s 6.75 inches long, 1.25 inches in diameter, weighs 5.37 ounces and operates on a single CR123A battery that’s included. Predator hunters should all have this light on their scope (www.lasergenetics.com).
Shortly after my third or fourth kitten call, I spotted one of the coyotes standing on the edge of the woods looking in my direction. The wind was perfect, blowing from the carcass right to the coyote, and it wasn’t long before he started to move toward it, and he wasn’t alone. A second coyote entered the field and both were coming. As I followed them with the light, I realized that the green beam did not seem to bother them like white light does. They were about halfway to the carcass when I noticed a third coyote had joined them, all in single file.
My plan was to let them get about 50 yards away, then take the last one in the line first. Shooting the last one first might cause the other two to stop for a second to see what had happened before bolting, giving me a chance to get a second shot off at one of the others.
Centering the crosshair on the last coyote, I touched off the first shot and he went down immediately, and as I had hoped, the other two stopped and I was able to take a second shot at one that was just beginning to run. It slid to a halt, but fortunately, I kept it in the light and my scope because it got up. The third shot put him down for good. Two out of three wasn’t bad. Normally, I would have called it quits, but I decided to sit it out a bit longer just in case.
I waited a good hour before I made any more calls and didn’t spot anything with the light anywhere in the back of the field. I was so intent on concentrating on the end of the field where the coyotes had come from, I never checked the calf carcass, but again, luck was with me. For some reason, before I climbed out of the blind, I looked, and there chewing on the calf was a coyote. I don’t know where he came from or whether it was the one that got away earlier, but one shot from the LO-PRO ended his dinner.
Right after Christmas, I’ll be sitting in that field and a few other areas in Saratoga County where I know there are coyote problems.
The largest gathering of New York state Sportsman Education instructors will celebrate its 26th anniversary Jan. 26, hosted by the New York Shooting Sports at the Extension Education Center, 50 West High St., Ballston Spa, and the public is invited.
As an attendee at many of these workshops, I know they’re extremely informative and entertaining. This year’s theme is “The Next 25!” symbolizing the need to reflect on our past while planning for the future. As usual, there will be some very special guests in attendance.
The agenda, which is still being finalized, includes youth updates with stories from the young hunters themselves, investing in our
future by creating more opportunities for underserved audiences, the top 10 questions, complaints and concerns, and one of my favorites, watching the Environmental Conservation officers tackle tough questions from the audience, featuring Lt. Deming Lindsley.
The Sportsman Education Administrator and State Department of Environmental Conservation Sportsman Education program staff will highlight the successes of the past and future plans. Gordon Batcheller, chief of the Bureau of Wildlife, will unveil the 2013 changes and challenges. In addition, the state legislative positions will be given by some of our elected officials, and all this is just the morning session. Somewhere during that morning, I hope to bring up the crossbow issue and find out where it’s going, if anywhere.
The afternoon will be devoted to educational classes for instructors. These are refresher courses, reviews from EnCon officer reports, discussions of specialized equipment relating to today’s hunters and trapping initiatives that include the bobcat master plan, new regulations, etc.
New York DEC instructor registration is $15; all others, $25. Coffee and pastry will be provided during registration. A lunch and a special gift will be given to the first 200 who register.
ONE LAST TALE
I received another tale from Bob Jones, the hunter who, while wearing pajamas, shot a buck in his backyard, whose other Bill’s Hunt Camp members also bagged a deer, all taken in Albany County.
Bill Sleasman, 83 of Rensselaerville and 74-year-olds Larry and Nick Morrell of Colonie went out to sit on watch for a while. After an hour or so, Larry shot twice and missed, then Nick shot twice and missed. Bill heard all the shooting and assumed something was down, so he headed over with his ATV to help with the dragging. The Morrells returned to their watches, and Bill went to a new spot. Just 15 minutes later, a mature doe stepped out 30 yards from Bill. The doe looked at him, and one shot from his 12-gauge ended the hunt.
Larry came over to help with the field dressing, and two shots rang out from where Nick was. He was also on target, and got a nice spike horn.
Other members of the club who connected this year were Paul Pedersen of Commack, four-pointer; Joe Rispoli of Delanson, Tim Granger of South Bethlehem and Larry Morrell all took does.
As for me, at the time I wrote this column, I have my regular tag, bow tag, muzzleloading tag and two deer management tags. Have to see if Bill’s club has any openings.
Congratulations to all of you who were successful deer hunters this year.