VOHRINGER: Hunting the Wile E. Coyote

By on December 12, 2016
Columnist Othmar Vohringer poses with a coyote he bagged on a recent hunting trip. (Photo courtesy of Othmar Vohringer).

The hunting season of 2016 is history and with that most hunters put their hunting equipment away for the winter. However, there is a hunting season that is still open (in some Wildlife Management Units until June 30 and in others until March 31). I am talking about coyote hunting. There are several benefits hunting coyotes.

In most areas, coyotes are grossly overpopulated to the point where they have become a nuisance and a danger to pets, livestock and wildlife populations. In a few rarer cases they pose a danger even to humans.

It is estimated that coyotes can kill as much as 56 per cent of the deer fawns born in the spring, but they also can create havoc on grouse and other wildlife populations. With that said it makes good conservation sense to hunt coyotes after the regular hunting season closes.

Another benefit of hunting coyotes is that the fur prices have increased over the past two to three years. A prime coyote pelt can fetch upwards of 68 dollars for a western coyote and 40 dollars for lesser quality and eastern coyote.

In other words, by hunting coyotes all winter you could substantially support your hunting budget. But before you can think about selling fur to finance your next hunting rifle or a few boxes of ammunition there are some vital aspects of coyote hunting to consider.

One of these considerations is the firearm caliber you should choose. If you hunt coyotes for fur, the deer rifle will render the fur useless. Typically, coyote rifle calibers are small to prevent damage to the pelt but with enough power to dispatch the animal humanly.

The generally accepted calibers are as follows. On the lowest end of the scale is the .17 HMR. This caliber has an extremely flat trajectory but lacks the punch needed for long range shooting (beyond 100 yards). In the middle of the scale are the .204 Ruger, the .223 Remington (my favourite), the .220 Swift and .243 Winchester. So called “coyote loads” of these calibers with soft-tip bullets in the 55 to 60 grain weight generate enough energy and punch out to 200 yards to kill a coyote instantly with minimal fur damage. On the upper end of the scale would be the .22-250 Remington — a potent caliber for coyotes out to 300 yards. However, the loads used in this caliber would not necessarily be my choice for getting prime coyote fur as the bullets often make quite large exit holes, meaning fur damage.

Hunting tactics for coyotes are different from deer hunting tactics. If you think that deer are wary critters — think again.

Part of why coyote populations reached such high numbers is because they are extremely cautious critters. Most times when you see them is when they run away from you. Because of this wariness they can’t be hunted by stalking up to them or driving along logging roads.

Coyotes are most successfully hunted by setting up on a location where you have a good view of the surrounding landscape, yet camouflaged enough that approaching coyotes can’t spot you from a long distance away. Once set up, coyotes are called into shooting range by imitating coyote welcoming howls and distress calls of injured prey animals such as rabbits, fawns and birds.

Other good calls to use are magpie and raven calls since coyotes follow these “air surveillance agents” around to find an injured or diseased animal. It is legal here in British Columbia to use electronic coyote calls that come pre-programmed with a variety of sounds that will get the interest of a coyote.

In addition to calling, the most successful coyote hunters use a decoy to provide visual stimuli, and for good reason. As I said above, coyotes are very wary animals. If they come to a call they tend to hang up a long way out to survey the area for the easy meal whose cries they heard. If they can’t see anything they often leave but by using a decoy — this can be something as simple as a strip of fur over the ground moving with the wind — you will add to the realism and convince the coyote to come closer.

If you never hunted coyotes there are many good sources on the internet that provide all sorts of valued information for the beginning coyote hunters, including how to prepare and care for the pelt in order to gain a good selling price.      

4 Comments

  1. Joseph Diamanti

    December 13, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Great article, and very informative for those that haven’t been raised through the culls over the years.

  2. Carol

    December 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Wow. Othy finally shot something. Good job. Will we be seeing you with a deer any time soon lol? Must be 20 years or more since your last one?

  3. Mark

    December 18, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Science has shown that it takes a sustained removal of at least 70% of a coyote population to have any measurable effect on game populations. So hunting is not an effective management tool for predator control. It is a management placebo. If you want to hunt coyotes as part of your hunting heritage and connection to the land do so with reverence for the animal and in the spirit of the hunt. Otherwise, as hunters we need to stop justifying hunting to the public based on reasons that are simply not supported by science.

  4. Othmar

    December 19, 2016 at 10:51 am

    @ Mark. Hunting and trapping go a long way toward reducing the coyote population. There are very reliable studies done on urban coyote populations in the USA showing clearly that coyote populations have been reduced by as much as 50% by hunting and trapping.

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