There's absolutely no question about deer hunting being the quintessential hunting sport. Sure, dove and turkey hunting can be a fun diversion, and gator hunting can be a one of a kind thrill, but when most of us picture hunting, we're thinking about those few short weeks in the fall when we can hit the woods, bring our rifles, and take down a buck or two.
However, there's also no question - at least among most die-hard hunters - that deer hunting season is far too brief. If you hunt with a bow, you get a few extra weeks on either end of rifle season, but even still, the window for filling your fridge with venison doesn't last long and hurts when it's gone. After all, the winter is long enough as is: how will you get through it without a hunting pastime to keep your spare hours occupied and to get you excited about leaving the warm comfort of your house?
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For many, the answer is ice fishing. This year, though, we've got another recommendation for how you can stave off your deer hunting withdrawal: coyote hunting.
In many states, coyote season runs far and long, with sparse regulation and liberal bag limits that can keep you busy all winter. In other words, it's the perfect outdoor hunting sport to keep you busy during the winter months. If you're not an ice fishing fan and don't care much for skiing or snowboarding, you need to find a different reason to head outside during winter: coyote hunting can be just the ticket.
Depending on where you live, your coyote hunting may also double as a much-needed public service. Just as deer populations need to be thinned each fall to cut back on the potential car accidents they may cause, coyote populations need to be thinned almost constantly to reduce the threat they pose to both people and animals.
Especially in rural or wooded suburban areas, coyotes can be a prime danger. Farmers frequently tell tales of coyotes that have gotten too close for comfort. Sometimes, the wild, wolf-like animals attack farm animals, hurting or killing them and costing the farmer a lot of money in the process.
Other times, packs of coyotes can cause farmers - especially those who spend a lot of time working around the fringes of their land - to fear for their own safety. Quite simply, the animals are dangerous and unpredictable, and their burgeoning numbers are only exacerbating the number of reports you hear about coyote attacks.
Suburban families - especially those with pets - also live in relative fear of coyotes. Many cats and some dogs have been lost to coyotes that wandered away from their pack and ended up in a suburban area. Other suburban residents are afraid to walk far from their house after sunset for fear of being attacked by the wild animals.
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In other words, you should be able to hunt coyotes this winter and do so without feeling a pang in your conscience. In many areas, these animals are too numerous, and their numbers could use some culling.
You may not get the rush you get when bringing down a buck - nor will you get the freezer full of venison - but you will get a chance to stay active and to keep your shooting, tracking, and overall hunting skills sharp during the winter months. A fair tradeoff, we'd say.