Coyotes breed in between January and March with a 60-day gestation period. This means that pups will begin dropping anytime from March to May. Once those pups hit the den, coyotes go from normal feeding habits to kicking it into overdrive to provide for their pups. This increased feeding activity puts small game, ground nesting birds, fawns and other wildlife at increased risk of predation. In more urban areas, coyotes often make off with dogs, cats, chickens, and other domestic pets. There is plenty of debate around whether or not coyotes should be off limits during these denning months. However, the truth is, if the coyote numbers are flourishing in your neck of the woods, some spring and summer management could help all prey species in the area. Recent studies done focusing on fawn predation suggest that whitetail fawns account for about 80 percent of a coyote’s diet through the spring and summer in certain areas. Now, that’s a lot of fawns!
Get ready to level the playing field and take on some spring/summer coyote management with these quick tips:
- Watch the Forecast:
In order to beat the heat, coyotes will more than likely be looking for shade and cover throughout the day. When heat is a factor, they will be more active at dusk, through the night and at dawn, so plan your hunts accordingly to take advantage of their most active hours.
- Scout Water Sources:
Water sources can be hotspots for coyote activity. I run a trail camera on a small water hole that is fed by snowmelt and rainwater runoff throughout the year and the coyotes flock to it at night. Where I live in the Midwest, water is a precious commodity – rain is scarce and water sources aren’t very abundant, so the local wildlife relies heavily on these waterholes. Scout these areas for tracks to see if coyotes are frequent visitors.
- Pick Your Stand:
During the spring and summer, grasses, crops, bushes, and trees are in various stages of growth, and coyotes are able to use the natural vegetation to their advantage. They can weave through the cover to check out your calls without being seen. So, try to find stand locations that are elevated that also give you a clear view of the surrounding blind spots.
- Calls & Decoys:
Take your cues from nature and mimic the prey that coyotes are feasting upon right now. A fawn distress call can sound like an easy dinner for coyotes and adding a fawn decoy to your set-up can increase the realism. A lost fawn bleat can also be very effective. The same thing rings true for rabbits – a baby cottontail in distress can be almost irresistible and with the addition of a rabbit decoy within close proximity to your call, can lure in even the wariest of coyotes. Using both calls and decoys plays to both the coyotes eyes and ears and can be a very effective spring/summer strategy.
Spring and summer coyote hunting can play a very important role in predator management, but let’s be honest, it’s also a great way to scratch that hunting itch. With big game seasons months away, coyote hunting gives hunters the opportunity to get out and not only hunt, but also keep their shooting skills sharp. Check your local laws and regulations pertaining to predator hunting and if legal, get out there and do a little predator control. Your efforts will be repaid when you see more deer, birds and small game down the road.
Hugs, Handshakes and Happy Hunting