Coyote-Takers Calendar: December

A month-by-month look at coyote habits and the best tactics to kill a coyote.

Martin W. Duke | December 1, 2017

By Martin W. Duke and Renee’ Nolan

Along with Thanksgiving’s feast, the peak of the annual whitetail rut has come and gone, and autumn’s bright colors and amber air give way to post-frost predominance of browns and grays and shorter days. Each day is a little chillier. Plant life is bowed, broken or harvested, and winter’s shudder- ing grip is near, leaving only the festive thoughts of Christmas brightening our spirits.

As a teenager during the 1970s, I remember my grandfather’s joy that the deer hunters were out of the way by the first of December, so the bird dogs and beagles were free to range during the day and the hounds by night. Life was different then, easier. Today’s property lines, societal litigiousness and land-

use practices have forever altered our hunting and the landscape. The great bobwhite in the South is all but gone, except for the confines of the put-and-take world, and the hounds are no longer unleashed from every wide spot in the road at sundown.

For me, there is something in the air in December that is even better than bowhunting bucks in October.

The encroaching cold of the season has taken its toll on lizards and frogs, and the once free-roaming mice and ground squirrels stay closer to their seed and nut-filled borrows. Nature’s wild fruits have vanished till next sum- mer’s heat. All these factors increase the coyote’s daily hunt-time for satisfying his daily caloric drive. The pups of the past summer are weaned and not particularly wise, yet.

For the predator hunter, over the next two months, coyote-taking opportunities increase as the coyotes compete over a nite food source that gets smaller each day. And even more importantly, the in-fighting begins within the coyote community as coyotes pair to breed.

The first week of December for coyote chasers is like the first week of October for deer hunters—that being anticipation for increased activity and exposed vulnerabilities, which increase hunting opportunities of these crafty creatures. With food in short supply, a stealthy hunter who is wind-conscious while getting into an advantageous call- ing position will have favorable odds of taking home coyote fur from the eld.

Cottontail or jack rabbit distress, or maybe rodent distress, speaks to the coyotes’ stomachs. Shortly after dark, the loose coyote groups, pairs and scattered singles announce their positions and will not be too far from those areas when the morning’s first light breaks the horizon.

Members of productive deer hunt- ing clubs, which utilize centralized harvest residue sites, will have a coyote or three that routinely check for fresh leavings.

Locating coyotes is easy this time of the year by using a howl of any non-threatening version. A salvaged ambulance siren can really wake up the countryside with its long and intense wails. While hunting alone, hunters can turn it on, and then step away some distance to be able to hear the coyotes’ responses.

The study of this predator’s ways offers many rewards. Success will be an investment of effort.

Frequent and continual success on eastern coyotes in the South’s land of thick cover, from which their sensitive noses can detect hunters hundreds of yards away, presents interesting and diverse challenges, which makes taking home their prime winter fur even more special.

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