Coyotes are a True Threat to Deer Hunting


Coyotes are a True Threat to Deer Hunting

An article on takes a hard look at coyotes and their effect on deer, and that effect is considerable. Perhaps the worst part is that, in most areas, it is extremely difficult to stem the coyote population.

Before any coyote-huggers pipe up about keeping things as nature intended, let’s observe that coyotes are not native to most of the USA, and 100 years ago they were just beginning to move east of the Mississippi River. So did “nature” intend for coyotes to threaten the deer that we hunters spend so much time and money fostering and feeding? I don’t think so.

Nor do I care.

I realize that most folks these days tout balance and talk about how they’d like to maintain some numbers of [insert name of animal species]. Not I. I would dearly love to see coyotes exterminated. But that’s not gonna happen; they’re just too wily.

‘Research shows you have to remove about 75 percent of a coyote population annually to cause it to decline (because they recruit so many pups annually),’ Adams said. ‘Given the necessary removal rate… hunting is typically not an effective method of reducing their numbers in the eastern U.S. This is because they are hard to kill and you simply can’t kill enough to make a difference in population numbers. …the average deer hunter (or deer camp) isn’t going to make a dent in the coyote population. Trapping is a far more effective technique to reduce coyote numbers in localized areas.’

And trapping isn’t easy to do. As co-owner of hunting land, we members are fortunate to have one member who lives there full-time and is willing to run a trap line for coyotes each year. This is a lot of work, and it’s not often successful. Make one small mistake in your trap set, and you won’t catch a coyote. Plus you have to check the traps daily, which burns up gasoline, time, and willpower.

Despite his efforts, which have certainly helped to at least slow the growth of the coyote population on our property, there are still plenty of coyotes on the place and they take a toll on our deer and turkeys. It’s not uncommon to hear a lot of howling at night and to find parts of dead deer that were obviously victims of predation.

But if you have coyotes and you want to keep hunting deer, you’d better start thinking about erasing some coyotes.

There is a lot of data to show that coyotes aren’t only a factor in managing deer herds, they’re also capable of destroying populations of whitetails over time. Charles Ruth, a deer biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), has conducted a lot of research to prove coyotes’ effects.

We hunters have grown used to plentiful deer harvests. Our freezers can usually stay as full as we’d like. But that might need to change in order to maintain the deer herd in the face of predation, which is also significant from bears and bobcats, but coyotes are generally considered the most prevalent threat.

[Ruth said] ‘[C]oyotes are here to stay and will play a role in future deer management at some level… If property owners/hunters are concerned with their impacts, take every opportunity to shoot them, if you have the time and money, trap them. But more importantly, we need to look at the other side of the equation which is how we treat deer from a harvest management standpoint.

‘Making adjustment to harvest strategies, particularly on does, is more important now than prior to the colonization of the state by coyotes. Hunters remain the No. 1 source of mortality on deer in South Carolina and the only source of mortality that we have complete control over. Therefore, harvest management ultimately will dictate the trajectory of deer populations in the future.’

Be sure to read the full article for more details, and please shoot every coyote that gives you the chance. Don’t get caught up in thinking you will mess up a deer hunt by killing a coyote; instead, you will be helping to ensure that there will actually be deer to hunt!

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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