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Coyotes: Nuisance or Fellow Hunter?

It's no secret that coyotes and other natural predators can have a major impact on the local deer herds that you hunt, but most of us have rarely considered the fact that coyotes might actually be killing or chasing off more deer than any of our other fellow hunters are.

After all, hunting season, especially if you hunt on public land, brings you face to face with more than a few hunters who are after the same deer populations as you are. If you aren't seeing the bucks, or if the herds have learned to adopt nocturnal behaviors or to head to safer pastures, it's easy to blame other hunters for disturbing the property, spooking the deer, and ruining your prospects.

However, there are other hunters in the woods, and they might be causing a bigger problem than any of your human contemporaries. It is a proven fact that coyotes in many areas go after fawns or other smaller deer that are easily preyed upon.

Since you aren't hunting fawns, you may not notice the impact of the coyote kills for at least, a few years but when the effects do start to make themselves known, they will hit hard.

Part of the reason the coyotes are causing problems for deer populations and hunters alike is that, when states assess deer population models in order to set quotas and bag limits for deer hunters, they don't take coyotes or other predators into account.

So while hunters may be meeting the quota on does and mature bucks in an area by themselves, coyotes are meeting a quota themselves - and without having to get a hunting license or report their kills.

As a result, certain areas with heavy coyote populations may be suffering from marked over harvest problems as far as deer are concerned. So while you and the coyotes might have a great fall season, you could see the impact as early as next year.

Of course, making coyotes or other natural predators play by the same license and quota regulations as human hunters is impossible, but most of us also don't want to have our deer hunting bag limits slashed because those pesky coyotes are stealing our kills.

And yes, sometimes coyotes really do steal our kills.

Sometimes, our shots are accurate enough to kill a deer, but not quite good enough to bring them to their knees right where we shot them. If your prey ever takes flight into the woods after you land a killing hit, don't wait to get on its trail: from the second that deer starts bleeding, the coyotes will be on the trail, looking to beat you to your meat.

So how can you solve this coyote competition problem? One of the best ways, if your state allows for it, is to simply kill the competition.

If you can get your hands on a coyote hunting license, take advantage of that option and hit the field to hunt a new type of game. You will still get your hunting fix and you will be protecting the nearby deer herds - as well as your future whitetail hunting successes - all in one fell swoop.

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Coyotes: Nuisance or Fellow Hunter?