Coyote-Takers Calender: July
By Martin W. Duke and Renee Nolan
Coyote behavior is interesting, and one of my goals in writing this calendar, while chronicling seasonal hunting tips and tactics, is to also share certain anticipated wildlife behaviors based on the time of the year.
Most of us approach predator hunting from an altruistic perspective and hope that our predator-taking brings a higher benefit. We have seen on tv the comical antics of the still half-asleep share cropper busting out of his two-room, tin-covered shack’s front door, shotgun in hand, still trying to fasten his overalls and get his boots on, determined to kill the fox that he suspects is causing the late night commotion in the chicken coop.
To what extent, no one is sure, but there is no denying that a healthy coyote population now exists in Georgia, in large part because of the abundant prey species populations.
This time of the year, the predator soup of the day is dapple-colored darlings, fawns we hope will grow up into world-class wall hangers or well-wrapped frozen packages in our deep freezers.
Anytime of the year is a good time to take coyotes, and July is one of my favorites, as it offers me opportunities to observe high-level predators engage high-level prey species—and take those predators before they succeed.
Trout fishermen long ago touted the philosophy of “matching the hatch” for their fly selection. Rabbits and mice reproduce all year, but it is the “hatch” of our white-tailed deer, which right now is most vulnerable to coyotes.
Back in winter, after all the does were bred, the bucks returned to their core hiding places, and the does re-banded in their matriarchal groups. We observed then these late season gatherings of doe groups with an occasional yearling spike in tow, focusing on their traditional winter feeding areas. As we entered spring turkey season, we saw the same large groups of does move as one from their routine feeding and bedding areas. As turkey season progressed, those large doe groups dispersed, and by late May, the unborn fawn-laden does were no longer in plain view in their usual places but were hidden away for their private birthing.
Weeks will pass as the weak newborns remain mostly motionless, while their species-survival-driven mothers nurse their young in their hiding places and often lick them so they remain scent-free as much as possible. Rapidly, the fawns grow and gain strength in their once wobbly legs and are able to follow their attentive moms short distances before reaching yet another hiding place.
By late June, the old and new mothers begin to rejoin their matriarchal groups with their young. The fawns are full of life and often do not lie where told or stay put when they should. When I was a young man, I was shocked while reading Leonard Lee Rue III’s “The Deer of North America,” when he sited that 15 percent of all buck fawns die within two weeks of birth due to their naturally gregarious nature finding trouble for them.
Coyote pups were whelped in April as the forest green-up began to occur and the gobblers rocked the woods, but the coyotes stayed close to the den. If the coyote pups survived potential parvo, worms and all the other adolescent canine viruses, some 90 days later and weaned from their mother’s milk, they are beginning their hunting lessons from their elders as their craving for wild flesh grows.
Frogs, lizards, mice, moles and voles, along with summer’s wild fruits, become their daily diets as they tag along while their parents hunt. Killing by the pups only requires happening upon and quickly gulping a morsel before a sibling could attempt to steal the meal. Yet, this is not a pack, but a pair of selfish, predatorily minded parents feeding themselves first, and then only giving scraps to their young.
Then, one morning just after daylight, while the dew still covers Dixie, one of the adults catches a whiff of delicious—and in the next instant, its nose bumps into a small spotted fawn that shoots from the tall weeds beside the trail on which the gang was travelling.
Before the youngsters could hardly register what had happened, a capture was made on the sprinting creature. Its dying cries became indelibly imprinted on the pups’ impressionable minds, while they enjoy tasting the hot flesh and filling their hunger. Life has to be taken, so that other lives can be lived.
Next month will offer more tools and tactics for taking late summer coyotes.
Meanwhile, crosswind hay field setups are still very effective for hunting July coyotes.
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