Published in January 2005

Just how many coyotes are there in north-central Ohio?  Are they rare?  Common?  Thick on the ground?  Apparently, the third choice is the answer, though many an outdoorsman has never seen one, mainly because they travel mostly at night.  One group of coyote chasers who does most of their hunting around New London and Greenwich has bagged a whopping 74 animals so far this year (2005), and another group that does much of their seeking right around our area has taken a further 21.

“There are a LOT of coyotes out there.” said Shelbian Scott Baker.  “We need more people hunting them, because I think they’re hurting the environment.”  He might be right.  I’ve personally heard from some rabbit hunters who aren’t finding the quantity of game they used to turn up, and believe that the long legged, fast moving animals are making inroads on cottontails, especially in deep snow.

And red fox numbers seem to be down, also killed by coyotes say some outdoorsmen.  Worse, a deer hunter recently spotted three coyotes chasing a doe after the big snow.  “I bet they got her.” he said.  And one farmer complained about the audacious animals coming right into his farmyard at night and killing barn cats.  Hunters worked his woodlot soon after and killed four coyotes in one day, missing a fifth.

 How do you hunt these big and tough animals?  There are several ways, calling and walking them up on snow among them, but folks like Scott Baker like to hunt them with dogs, particularly beagles.  Scott seeks coyotes with a cadre of friends that include veteran hunter John Masters of Shiloh and his two sons, Scott and Kevin, along with Mike Williams, Hardy Robinson, Ryan Hintz, Jeff Coffman, Brandon and Roger Osborn, Mike and Kenny Oney, and others who live around the area.

Typically, they’ll wait for a good snowfall of two or three inches, then scatter out and drive around squares where they have permission to hunt looking for tracks leading in and none coming out.  When a set is found, John Masters will release his dog, Joe, and the hunt is on.

 “Usually, we’ll have a man or two go in with the dog,” Scott said, “because after a coyote has been chased a while he’ll often circle and try to kill the beagle.  Then we’ll place the rest of the hunters at likely crossings where the coyote might head out of the square or move to one woodlot from another.  With luck, we’ll get him sooner or later.”

Beagles are ideal dogs for coyote hunting, because many will chase a fox or coyote naturally with little or no training.  But some hunters around northcentral Ohio use coon dogs like blueticks, or even Airdales who are happy to fight it out with any coyote.  And the hunters carry serious artillery, usually a 12 gauge full choke loaded with magnum loads of No. 4 buckshot, because these 40 to 50 pound, heavily muscles animals can absorb a lot of shot and keep going.

I found this out the hard way some years ago when I jumped a coyote at about 25 yards while carrying a double barrel loaded with magnum No. 4 shot rounds.  I dropped the animal twice, reloaded, had it run again, and shot it twice more before it went down to stay.  They’re tough.

Scott had more good advice for hunters either using dogs or walking them up on snow.  “It’s good for one or two men to have flat shooting, scope sighted rifles, and whenever they go on stand, wear white or camouflage and watch the wind.  We use walkie talkies too, to alert standers that one might be coming.  They’re not stupid, and hunters need all the help they can get.”

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