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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Coyotes are here to stay

If you venture outdoors or talk to those who do chances are you have heard of coyotes infiltrating the area lately. In fact, they have been here for many years. A few weeks ago, a local farmer, Larry Carr, had his picture in the paper with a coyote he took. In fact, he has killed two that I know of this year. A number of hunters and landowners have taken coyotes this season. In a recent hunt near NSWC a group of hunters took a half dozen coyotes before lunch and missed a few more! Furthermore, a local taxidermist just told me that he heard of a big coyote taken near Hopyard, another one near Port Royal and another in the Fairview Beach area in the last few weeks. In the Igo area a landowner had a huge one pictured on his game camera late at night. We have heard them near our place on the western side of the country recently as well. It seems that not only are they here to stay but they are becoming very common.
Here are some quick facts about coyotes in Virginia:

Their front paw print is roughly 2.5 inches from front to back.

They will eat anything to include garbage, fresh meat, road kill, or kill their food to include anything they can take down from fawns to mice.

They walk leaving tracks in a line not side by side like a deer.

While I don’t want to alarm readers, coyotes that are used to humans, human scent or seeing humans could potentially attack an unattended toddler. No one leaves a baby unattended but if you live in an area where coyotes are present don’t even consider it!

Residents have complained of small dogs or cats being attacked and even carried off but it is not common.

Coyotes can scale or leap fences less than seven feet high. However, they will take the easiest route and easiest food available.
Pups are usually born between March and May numbering from three to 12.
They prefer open pasture to dense woods but thrive anywhere, including residential areas.
They can take livestock such as chickens and even kids (baby goats), goats and newborn calves
Males tend to be larger at 35-45 pounds but may weigh up to 60 pounds and look even larger with a winter coat fluffed up. Females tend to be 30-40 pounds.

They are known to roam great distances when hungry and home ranges vary, but several square miles are not unusual and depend on the abundance of food. So, if you do not see a coyote for a few days it is likely still in the area but not in your specific neighborhood.

Biologists state that killing them rarely eliminates or reduces the population much but simply changes the age distribution. One thing you can do is stop the particular coyote that has figured out how to get in your chicken coop or work its way into your stock. They learn fast about certain prey animals and keep coming back until that source is exhausted or something happens to them.

They may be hunted or shot year around except Sundays.

For those wishing to hunt coyotes there are a few tips I can share with you after having killed a few out West myself and after talking to a few professional coyote hunters.

A rifle of smaller caliber such as a .223, 220 Swift, .243, or the like is perfect for them and legal here. However, use common sense. If houses are nearby don’t use a rifle. A .17 HMR with head shots only will do the job too but why not be a little more humane? Shotguns at close range loaded with buckshot like Hevi-Shot’s “Dead Coyote” is perfect but #1 buck in a shotgun is also a good load. NO HIGH POWERED RIFLES FOR FOXES OR OTHER PREDATORS!
Electronic calls and spotlights (preferably outside of deer season) are permitted.

Mouth calls that mimic a squealing rabbit are really good to use. Primos makes a Ki-Yi call that works well for coyotes and foxes.

Call from a hidden position but if you can hunt with partner face opposite directions. Coyotes and foxes like to circle downwind and check out the call sometimes. Other times they will simply charge in. I have killed foxes from a treestand with hopes of keeping my scent above noses. I have yet to try a coyote that way but it may work.

When in Texas hunting with a professional predator caller, he had us sit on a truck box facing opposite ways while he rotated a red lens light around 360 degrees as he called every few minutes. I was astounded how many coyotes came to the call and how fast they ran towards us. I had one less than 50 yards before I could get on it and pull the trigger despite initially seeing it at over 100 yards.

Since deer season has been tough it may be time to have some new experiences and thin the population out some or at least reduce the number of wise ‘yotes out there. Some people find it fun to predator hunt. Keep safety in mind and know what lies in the directions you intend to shoot long before you do so.

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