Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Kill Coyotes in Central Maine

Kill More Coyotes
            Regularly killing coyotes is something I equate to an art form. These wily predators are incredibly gifted in knowing and effectively avoiding danger. To consistently out smart these canines, hunters must be flexible and not afraid to try new techniques and tactics.
Baiting and Calling Coyotes
            For many years, I hunted coyotes over bait sites. While extremely effective, the hassle of securing landowner permission, setting up a shack, finding fresh bait and hunting the bait almost every night (who wants to feed coyotes!) finally all had me reaching a point where baiting was no longer fun, it was just work. I knew that there had to be a simpler way to hunt coyotes that was easier but also continued to remain extremely effective.
            Hunters who practice the art of calling coyotes not only free themselves from the burden of managing bait sites but also expose them to a whole new world of coyote hunting that bait hunters don’t get to experience. This isn’t to say anything negative about bait hunting, as I still believe this is an extremely effective way of killing coyotes and helping manage their population. Similar to the sportsman, who prefers to stand hunt rather than still hunt for deer or vice versa, running, calling and gunning for coyotes differs greatly from baiting and is a fun challenge all sportsmen should try.

Evolution of the Coyote Hunter
All coyote hunters seem to evolve is a similar manner. First comes the purchase of a simple hand held wounded rabbit call, next comes an electronic call and finally comes the addition of some type of motion decoy. The importance of these last two purchases is that they distract the coyote’s attention away from the caller and focus it in the direction of the electronic call and motion decoy. By placing the call and decoy upwind of the hunter, the idea is that the approaching predator will have his keen eyes and sensitive nose diverted from where the hunter is hiding.
Set-up for Success
Calling coyotes into effective shooting range is not an easy task. Those shots all coyote hunters dream about, where the coyote appears, slowly creeping across an open field and into the scope of the awaiting hunter is extremely rare. Mostly, these canines stick to heavy cover, only exposing themselves for a shot for a few seconds. Because of this proper set-up is of utmost importance. Provide a shot opportunity by making sure that each setup has at least one shooting lane between the call and location where the hunter is hiding. I like to set my call and decoy on the edge of a field where the visibility is high but set up 30-40 yards inside the wood line. Typically coyotes will follow the wood line right to the decoy, creating a shot opportunity for either rifle or shotgun.
Coyote Calling
The go to call for coyotes is a wounded rabbit but because of it’ popularity, it is often overused. Last season, I had great luck in Central Maine using a turkey decoy and making turkey sounds, specifically the kee-kee-run. Because of the extremely healthy turkey population in this area of the state, coyotes have really honed in on this being a readily accessible prey animal. For those looking to talk turkey to coyotes this March, grab a slate or box call and give it a try. For the turkey hunting crowd skilled at using diaphragm calls, conduct a Google search for “Howl on Turkey Diaphragm Call” and watch how some hunters are using the turkey diaphragm to make coyote howls and barks, very interesting!
The howl and bark is another call every hunter should have in their hunting arsenal. By starting each calling sequence with a few howls, hunters trigger the coyote’s strong territorial instincts, often forcing it to run into the call before the perceived challenger beats it to a free meal. When a hunter play a coyote howl on an electronic caller placed 30-40 yards away and answers it with a handheld caller, it creates the illusion of multiple coyotes. This can sometimes be the trigger needed to dupe call shy coyotes.
Over calling is death to beginner coyote hunters. Start calling sequences with a couple howls followed shortly after with a prey sound, then wait 10 minutes. If nothing try another prey sound but be very careful of any movements. It is likely that a coyote is already there watching and waiting. Typically if there is a coyote in the area and everything has been done right, they come calling and quickly. Never start calling until completely ready, properly concealed and gun positioned for a shot.
Alonzo Garcelon WMA
If looking for public lands in Central Maine to hunt coyotes, the Alonzo H. Garcelon Wildlife Management Area (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 13, B-1) is comprised of several land parcels equating to 4,882 acres, spread across the towns of Augusta, China, Vassalboro and Windsor. Access to the various parcels within the WMA is difficult in most areas due to private land ownership and lack of parking. My favorite access location is via the Mud Mill Road, located off route 17 approximately 7 miles east from Augusta. (If you pass Clark’s East Side Scrap, you have gone too far.) There is a sign at the end of this road marking the WMA and a small parking area. Be sure to bring skis or snowshoes as even in March snows will likely be deep and be prepared to hike as the trail system is fairly extensive, offering lots of choices on where to setup ambush locations. Be cautious to absolutely identify targets as this WMA is also used by people walking their dogs and enjoying other non-hunting recreational activities.

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