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Outdoors with Alvin Richardson - Varmints on the rise

Outdoors with Alvin Richardson - Varmints on the rise

Outdoors with Alvin Richardson - Varmints on the rise


      Since the late 1960's the coyote population in Georgia has exploded. Around 1970 there had only been confirmed coyote sightings or kills in 23 Georgia counties. Today, all of the state's 159 counties are home to this wily veteran of the woods. Coyotes have migrated steadily eastward from the western and mid-western states and have found our part of the country to their liking. Coyotes can and will eat a wide variety of foods but relish rodents and rabbits which are plentiful in Georgia. Because they can survive on just about anything from road kill to persimmons and because their habitat is non-specific populations can and do flourish from the North Georgia Mountains to the swamp bottoms of South Georgia. Suffice to say that the coyote is a highly adaptable animal.
       These canines typically range in size from twenty to forty pounds and measure somewhere between three feet to four and a half feet from the nose to the tip of the tail. They vary in color from a light brown to nearly black. The most frequent coloration is a brownish gray.
       Farmers usually start screaming about coyotes when their animals go missing. The truth of the matter is that except for an occasional fawn or injured deer coyotes don't typically tangle with large animals like calves. Most biologists think that feral dogs are more often the culprit in those cases.
       Hunters can take coyotes year round in Georgia with few rules to inhibit them. You can use any legal weapon as well as electronic calls and the animals can be hunted at night with a light of six volts or smaller. As is the case in other hunting activities there may be special rules if you are hunting on a WMA so check those out if you are heading out to a Wildlife Management Area.
        Lots of coyotes are killed each year by deer and turkey hunters but the sport has now drawn its own following because coyotes are challenging foes that offer a chance to hunt all year long. An added perk for those who choose to pursue coyotes is that land owners are usually glad to let you get rid of them. Approached in the right way there should be plenty of opportunities to hunt in wide variety of places for your prey.
      Coyotes are one of the smartest animals you will ever hunt. They are born with excellent survival instincts and have a legendary nose. If you are going to bag one of these crafty dogs there are a few things you need to know.
       The shots you will most likely get are typically going to be in excess of fifty yards and most often a good deal farther. For that reason a good long range varmint rifle or a small caliber deer rifle are the best choices. A Remington .222, a .22/250, a .243 Winchester and similar calibers are the best guns for this type of shooting.
       When it comes to bringing coyotes in there are two things that hunters use (usually in combination). Electronic or manual calls and a scent trail. Coyotes use their eyes and ears as part of their survival package but their nose is what they hunt with. For that reason you can get their attention with the calls but the scent trail you offer up is what is going to bring them into rifle range. Lots of hunters use cover scents such as rabbit, fox, skunk or raccoon to do the trick here and it also serves to cover your human scent.
       Because the coyote is always angling to find the scent of his prey you are going to have to face downwind to see the animal when he shows up. If you are facing upwind you will have to turn around to get a shot and when your target sees that motion he is gone. It goes without saying that your camouflage is important here. Make sure you match the camo with your surroundings.
       There are lots of types of calls that can do the job. Calls that imitate coyotes howling and those that replicate the squeal of a distressed rabbit, squirrel, or chipmunk are the most common. Two quick pieces of advice I received from veteran coyote hunters were: 1) Howling is best used in the last hour before sundown because that is when the animals are sounding off in an effort to find each other for the evenings hunt. 2) When using the squealing technique it is best to do it briefly rather than for a long drawn out period of time. That would be non-typical of the reaction of prey that has been attacked and a coyote will sense that it is not realistic.
       For more specific information don't hesitate to send me an e-mail and I'll be glad to help if I can.

    Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports will appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at: dar8589@bellsouth.net.

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