Eliminating Coyotes To Improve Your Deer Herd
By: Heath Wood
While sitting in a treestand during the fall deer season, I’m the first to admit that if a coyote comes by within shooting range, the deer hunt quickly turns into a coyote hunt.
Many hunters confess that they will shoot a coyote when deer hunting to help aid in the fight against the loss of their deer herd.
As mentioned earlier, I seldom pass up the opportunity to shoot a coyote, no matter what I am hunting. However, the truth is, shooting one or two coyotes each fall has little to no effect on improving fawn survival and the overall deer herd on a property. In my twenty-five years of hunting coyotes, I have learned that it takes an extensive predator management program to impact how many coyotes there are on a specific piece of land. Harvesting a mere two or three coyotes throughout the fall deer season does not constitute the fight to thin out the coyote population. Sadly, the truth is that new coyotes will take their place within a week to a month, resulting in no real impact. Yet, there is still hope for those who want to eliminate predators to improve their deer population.
Extensive Removal of Coyotes
There are two types of coyote populations when zoning in on a specific hunting area. Some coyotes live every day of their lives on or near said land. These coyotes are the ones who breed, den, raise their young, and survive daily in a five to eight-mile radius. Others, however, need a home range or territory, thus making them spend much of their time roaming and searching for an area to mark as their own. The roaming type of coyote is the one that makes managing the population difficult. Coyotes are one of the most territorial animals on the planet, so there is only room for the roaming coyotes to settle after removing one or two coyotes
Because new coyotes are always waiting to mark an area as their own, creating a significant impact on the growth of a deer herd requires extensive coyote removal. To successfully remove numerous coyotes, the hunter must spend extensive time hunting coyotes and trapping simultaneously. Many studies that have been completed on fawn mortality state that up to eighty percent of the coyotes in an area must be removed to make an impact.
In most areas across the United States, trapping season typically occurs during December, January, and February, which is also the most sought-after time for coyote hunters to try calling predators into shooting range. Hunters and trappers eliminate as many predators as possible in the months before fawns are born in the spring, increasing the deer herd’s survival rate and population.
Spring and Summer Coyote Hunting
If hunting and trapping a vast number of coyotes during the winter does not sound worthwhile, try hunting during the spring and summer when coyotes make the most noticeable impact on baby fawns.
For the past ten years, I have spent significant time calling and hunting coyotes during April, May, and June. In my home state of Missouri, even though it is legal to shoot a coyote when turkey hunting, it is not legal to hunt or call coyotes until the day after spring turkey season, which is the first week of May. Once the spring turkey season has concluded, I focus the next two months on trying to call coyotes into shooting range. It is still possible to increase fawn survival rates by consistently eliminating coyotes while fawns are dropping.
When calling coyotes during the late spring and early summer, hunters can use distress sounds, including a distressed baby fawn, on their electronic callers to bring in coyotes searching for a meal to feed their young. Coyotes have their pups near the same time that deer have their fawns. Female coyotes must increase their food intake to help prepare to nourish pups. Over the next couple of months, mother coyotes need extra food to feed the pups until the young pups are ready to hunt on their own. The months of higher food requirements make fawns a leading target to fill the void. Eliminating coyotes during these higher-risk months and into the summer decreases fawn mortality because fawns are older and less vulnerable, giving them a higher survival rate when new coyotes move into the area.
Should hunters still elect to harvest a coyote when given the opportunity while deer hunting? The answer is yes! A pack of coyotes can take down a full-grown whitetail deer at any moment. Eradicating a coyote could very well save a deer’s life. However, to successfully decrease fawn mortality and improve the numbers in a deer herd, it is imperative to hunt and trap extensively during the winter or hunt them when fawns are most targeted.