River Valley Outdoors
In an effort to help River Valley whitetails survive deep snows and cold weather this winter, I’ve decided to organize a club dedicated to removing as many coyotes as possible from deer yarding areas in this region.
As soon as the snow gets knee deep, a majority of whitetails will migrate into traditional areas called “deer yards.” These yards consist of mature conifers that offer a thermal refuge from the cold and a thick over story that actually limits snow depths. The deer can move about more freely in big deer yards and stay a little warmer even if the temperatures dip below zero.
Experienced coyotes have learned to hunt wintering whitetail in and around these yards, taking a real toll on deer populations in regions that regularly get heavy snow depths.
Over the last few decades, coyote populations have been on the rise, while deer numbers have been dwindling. In the past I’ve tried hunting coyotes over bait on my own without much success. Granted, I never put much effort into it, really just enjoying another reason to get outdoors.
This year I’ll be trying a different approach to coyote hunting, a more focused effort to take more coyotes. Instead of only hunting over bait like I did in the past, I’m going to attempt a “multi-approach effort.” Let me explain why…
Last year I planned on hunting with Carthage resident, Bill Houghton, a fellow that has been taking coyotes over dogs for many years.
I’m new to coyote hunting, and Houghton was more than happy to show me the ropes. He’s got some of the finest coyote dogs around and a vast knowledge of coyotes and the woods they live in.
Houghton has a deep concern for his hounds and won’t take them out when conditions aren’t just right. Last winter we had very odd weather – we’d get a little snow, the weather would turn warm and melt the snow, and then it would freeze and form a nasty crust on the surface.
An icy crust on the snow really cuts up a hound’s feet, and ends any thoughts of running dogs after coyotes. On top of that, Houghton works Monday through Friday and only hunts on Saturdays. Last winter it seemed like almost every Saturday presented unfavorable snow conditions for running hounds. In short, we didn’t get out that often.
This year I’ll be praying for better snow conditions, continuing to hunt with Houghton and his hounds. I’m also going to go one step further and attempt to organize a group of hunters dedicated to taking coyotes by forming a coyote-hunting club. This club, in its infancy, will gather hunters from a wide spectrum – hound hunters, those proficient at calling, and those that prefer hunting over bait.
The Facebook page for this club, Coyote Hunters of Maine, includes any individual club from around the state. Bill Houghton has started his own club in this region, Western Maine Coyote Control, and has signed on with Coyote Hunters of Maine.
Our club will allow hunters of all persuasions to get in to the action by forming a network of individuals helping each other attain one common goal – taking more coyotes. Our club especially wants to promote safe and ethical hunting at all times, along with a large dose of healthy, outdoor fun.
I hunted with Houghton and a good group of hunters the last few weekends and can tell you our group had a blast. One minute the hounds would be barking up one mountain and everyone would race to that location, and in the next instant the coyote would change direction and pull the dogs along with him to the next mountain.
Chasing hounds on the trail of a wily coyote tops my winter recreation list, and working together with a great group of hunters in a concerted effort like this forms bonds of enjoyable friendship that last.
There won’t be any fee to join the club, and anyone looking for more information on signing up can call Bill Houghton at: 592-0995, or me, William Clunie, at 562-7564 orvisit Coyote Hunters of Maine on Facebook.