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Predator Problems by Thomas Forst

4/10/2011

It is 4:00am on October 28th and I am on my way to work. I am driving through the small town I live in Northern Wisconsin and a deer goes flying across the road ahead of me and right behind it a coyote, to my surprise, especially right in town. Talk about being awaken to a real problem we have in this area with predators, especially since I hunt deer not far from here. I guess a lot of us whitetail hunters realize that predators have a lot to do with falling deer populations, but just like a lot of things, out of sight out of mind, but seeing this coyote chasing a deer really brought this problem back into my mind.

We have noticed in our hunting area over the last several years that a lot of the fawns we see in the summer are not around during hunting season and we see a good number of adult does without fawns. Why? I believe it can only be predators. The population of predators in the deer woods, bears, coyotes, wolves and the occasional cat seem to exploding.

Two bear taken by trail cameraOne of our Swampbuck Outdoors team members, Paul Long owner of Wild Rivers Taxidermy, had drawn a bear tag in Wisconsin for the 2010 season. He baited for the bear in the same area that we deer hunt and during the season he had as many as nine different bear visit the bait site. We were surprised by the amount of bear in the area. Based on the number of bear around, you can be assured that a certain number of deer, especially fawns are lost to bear each year. Maybe the Wisconsin DNR should increase the amount of bear tags before the population is out of control, if its not already. This is pretty much out of control of the hunter and in the DNR's court.

I don't even like to get started on this topic, but Wisconsin does not need wolves. There is not enough wooded habitat anymore for all these animals especially the wolf. Wolves are devastating to a deer herd. No one could even guess how many deer they kill. Wolves are killing machines and our fore-fathers knew this, that is why they all but eliminated them. We already know they prey on deer, turkey and all small game, but they also prey on hunting dogs, family pets and sooner or later on a human. Lets hope the DNR wakes up before something terrible happens. The wolf problem is totally out of the hunters hands and rests solely on the shoulders of the DNR and our government. Good luck to them on something they never should have started.

Coyote in the snowNow lets talk coyotes. Coyotes can almost be as devastating as wolves under certain conditions especially when numbers are high and they pack up to attack deer. This when all deer are at risk large and small. Winter months are extremely tough on deer when snow levels are high and the snow has a crust on it. Whereas a coyote can run on top and the deer break through the crust which makes the deer vulnerable to attacks. This when it only takes one coyote to  run down a large deer. I believe after the rut we are losing some of our more mature bucks to predators because the bucks are physically worn out from chasing does and can't fight coyotes off.

So, pay attention to coyote sign in your hunting area, watch for tracks on the roads and trails. Listen for the howls and yips at dusk. Keep track of sightings on you trail cameras and also live sightings. If you see coyote tracks just about every time you go into your hunting area and you have one or two live sightings or trail camera pictures then its probably time to hunt some yotes. Unlike bear and wolves this growing coyote population is in the hands of the Wisconsin hunters. In Wisconsin coyotes are legal game almost all year-round.

At the end of whitetail season most of us put our bows and rifles away and get lazy. I am also guilty as charged. I always have good intentions of getting out and doing some coyote hunting, but I always find an excuse, its to cold or too windy and blah, blah, blah. So as a Wisconsin whitetail hunter I say lets get off our butts and help out the animals we love to hunt so much by doing some coyote hunting.

Thomas Forst and 37 lb coyote taken winter of 2010/11 Lets get off our couches this winter, call up our hunting buddies, grab that rifle and head to your favorite sport shop and pick up some coyote calls or a DVD on coyote hunting and go have some fun coyote hunting. Even if you only kill one coyote you maybe saving your buck of a lifetime.

Good Hunting!
Thomas Forst
Swampbuck Outdoors Team Member

P.S.
We did get out and coyote hunt this past wither about six to eight time and we killed a couple of coyotes. We will be doing more next winter because we enjoyed it a lot.