Coyote hunting climbs fast track to popularity

Coyote hunting is picking up adherents quickly since hunters are finding out how exciting and challenging hunting these crafty predators can be.

Pennsylvania hunters are already addicted to chasing these rather ugly beasts. So much so that many outdoor shows — including the upcoming Jaffa Outdoor Show Feb. 23-26 — sponsor coyote hunts with prizes and trophies

Last year, I had the privilege of taking photos of entries and winners and picking their brains for hunting tips.

“I hunt coyotes whenever I’m not working, “ Randy Guyer of New Enterprise said.

Guyer had just brought in the first coyote to be entered in the coyote hunting contest at the Jaffa Outdoor show. It was a 37-pound female, in obviously good condition, bagged near Breezewood.

Coyote hunting is fast climbing the ranks of challenging, exciting types of hunting. But challenging it is, definitely not for the faint of heart or of faltering steps. Hunting coyotes is done mainly by two methods: calling or chasing with dogs. Guyer hunts mainly with dogs, Walkers who run. “It takes hours of training to develop good coyote dogs,” Guyer explained.

The most common way to hunt coyotes with dogs is to drive along a remote mountain road behind the dogs that are running along in front of the truck sniffing out a scent. When they hit a hot scent, the dogs take off baying and the hunter parks the truck and takes off after the dogs.

“Coyotes are long-distance runners and a typical chase can last for 8 to 10 miles, although I’ve had some that lasted a lot longer than that,” Guyer said. “I’ve had chases that went for 40 miles. So coyote hunting is not for the faint of heart.”

Another way to hunt coyotes is to hike along in the snow until you hit tracks then let the dogs loose on them,” Guyer said. “We set out trail cameras that give us good indications of where coyotes are crossing and running. One thing about coyotes is that they will use the same crossing places time and again so when you learn where those are you are ahead of the game.

We also use GPS units as we track and chase and some of the boys enter all the data we get from them on the computer. From this data, we can determine where the best crossings are.

In the summer, coyotes eat a lot of mice and birds. They like fresh kills and injured deer which they will chase down. They don’t respond well to bait as a rule,” Guyer said. “Coyote hunting is a lot of work; you are not going to kill one in 5 minutes. They have the sight of a wild turkey and the scenting ability of a dog. They are canines, you know.

“Coyotes will run into culverts, under houses and other unexpected places. The are smart and cunning and hunting them is one of the most challenging hunts available,” Guyer continued.

The second day of the contest, Guyer brought in another coyote, and pledged to be out trying to bag another one on the third day. Guyer also traps coyotes and that is about as challenging as running them. So year round, Guyer is setting traps, studying the computer, training dogs and staying in shape for the winter hunting season. He fairly bristles with the excitement of the hunt he loves and his love for it is contagious.

Last year, Joey McGuire of Morrisdale and Storm Bumbarger of West Decatur brought in three coyotes between them and walked off with the first place trophy. Bumbarger had a 49-pound coyote and McGuire presented a 37.8-pound animal and a 29.4-pound coyote.

These two men usually hunt coyotes together and they use dogs to do it most of the time. Their dogs are Walkers and American Fox Hounds and they spend lots of time in the fall and winter training them. They too use the popular method of scent trailing.

That method can be accomplished two ways: by taking them into the woods to pick up a scent trail or by running them down a country trail or road in front of the truck , then turning them loose when they hit a scent. Then the hunters have to follow the dogs over hill and dale until they catch up.

And if you want to enter them in to the Jaffa show contest you need to get the coyotes that day. It’s a challenge indeed.