Seeing a coyote trotting across a field or hearing their iconic yips and howls during darkness is becoming more common. Many hunters believe their growing numbers have a negative impact on our native deer herds. There is no doubt, in some instances, coyotes can take down adult deer that are sick or injured, but it’s the annual fawn crop that are most susceptible.
The effect of the wild canines on deer populations is an area of great concern among wildlife managers, landowners and especially hunters. Due to the decline in fur markets and trapping, the range and population of our states largest predator have increased substantially.
Cole Chandler is an avid deer sportsman and looks forward to each fall when the deer hunting seasons begin. Several years back he began noticing a decline in the number of deer he would see, as did most hunters. “Each season it was less and less,” he mentioned. But what he did notice was an increase in the number of coyotes. “Nothing had really changed, so I knew that was part of the reason,” he added. Since then he began pursuing the cunning predators and he has become very proficient. Ethical hunting has always been a vital component of proper wildlife management.
Before anyone suggests “why not let nature choose its own course as intended,” there is one thing to consider. Technically, coyotes are not native to Indiana. In the beginning they were mainly located in the prairie regions and western states. But roughly a century ago their range slowly expanded and once crossing the Mississippi River they now inhabit every state.
There are several methods used when trying to outwit Indiana’s most cagey carnivore. They can be trapped, tracked with the use of dogs or called in. Chandler prefers the use of his electronic and mouth calls, which imitate prey animals in distress or coyote vocalizations. Although this method can be used at any time, the 29 year-old Chrysler employee hunts strictly at night. “They are primarily nocturnal and that’s when I have my best luck,” he stated. So he doesn’t even leave his house until the sun sets.
In the beginning Chandler knew there were good numbers of the wild canines but didn’t realize just how large their population actually was. “I live in the country and in three seasons I took over 50 at my own house,” he said.
As far as location, Chandler only hunts on farms he has permission, spanning Grant, Howard, Delaware and Blackford Counties. His best day came several weeks back when he collected eight coyotes in one night. That is remarkable success in any savvy predator hunter’s eyes and is a testament to the skills he has developed.
As far as equipment, he prefers a 223 caliber rifle topped with a quality night vision scope. The vocalizations he uses come from an electronic FoxPro or mouth calls. “The day I collect my buck is the night I begin hunting coyotes,” he added.
Indiana’s season normally opens mid-October and concludes mid-March. There is no bag limit. But there is a caveat. Landowners can take coyotes year round and others can too with written permission from the property owner where they plan to hunt.
So has it made a difference for Chandler? “Over the past two or three years I have definitely noticed an increase in the number of deer where I hunt,” he explained. “I believe all hunters are the best conservationists and we should do what we can to help manage the areas we hunt.”