Monday, February 28, 2011

Double Down Coyotes

By Duane Fronek

  I have a couple hunting buddies that I like to hunt with and when time permits I’ll team up with one of them to go after coyotes. Today one fellow dogman Volker gave me a call, he had time to get out and do a few stands before dark. Volker has the addiction as bad as me, he will go through anything to call in and kill a coyote, it’s a passion that he shares with many of the other coyote hunters out there. So I head over to his place and load up the gear, rifles, hot seats and shooting sticks, then we’re off.

  We decide to hit the river nearby and decide on a spot we were busted  on a few weeks back by the skeptic nose of a coyote, well twice actually, This spot has a funny bend in it that messes with the wind. Today the wind was out of the southwest, and figured that might be the ticket for that spot. On our way we noticed that the deer were out feeding and not just a couple, a lot. We had deer cutting across in front of us on the way there and we even seen rabbits out eating the dry grass and probably the salt that was along the roads. It was feeding time and if those critters were out, no doubt the coyotes were too.

  We arrive at our point of entry, a small pull over spot on state land, gated of course. After getting saddled up, we head down the well packed deer path to the river, it was about a quarter mile walk in, no other human tracks around, but deer tracks up the whazoo. We even seen 6 deer walking in as well.

  Upon arriving at the river we find the wind in our favor  on this go round. We pick our position right up tight to the river where a clump of tag alders made it’s home. Volker takes his seat to the right of the tags, with his 10ga stuffed with 3 ½ mags ready to unleash it’s load of #4 buckshot, he’s nestled in and ready to take a sneaker  wanting to come in through the back door. As Volkers ready to go, I am as well, taking my position to the left of the tags and perched on the shelf ice on the rivers edge, hoping it doesn’t give way.

  I’m facing down stream, wind in my face, I can see a good 500yds of open highway, ready to tumble any speedsters coming in. Across the river about 50yds is a thick cedar swamp that stretches for atleast a half mile both ways, perfect habitat for deer and snow shoe hares and the killers that stalk them, the coyote.

  Being it’s late February, I pull out my Red Desert open reed. Putting the call to my deceitful lips, I unleash a few barks and howls, notifying any resident King and Queen there was an intruder in their kingdom. Another 30 seconds and I broadcast my blatant  trespass into the wind with another series of barks, yips, and howls. Then give a moment of silence for the dirty deed I'm about do. The deed arrived about the 2 minute mark when my lying lips screamed the death throws of a hare being murdered by the intruder.

  This was too much for the Queen and her King, through the cedars across the river two figures were fast approaching, their legs mingling with the under brush as they move frantically through the swamp, giving only glimpses of their vulnerable figures. The Queen arrived first, looking for a fight, her hackles raised on her back  as she closes in on the river bank 50yds away, suddenly she comes to a halt to assess the situation, looking for the squatter. Her King stood back 20 feet upon the slight rise behind her majesty, shrouded by the bows of the cedars that covered the Kingdom. Little did she know the intruder had the Nikon locked on her chest at which a second later sent the signal to the .243 to send a screaming 100 grainer into the boiler room through the front door. As she hit the snow her sidekick ran in and nipped at her back and darted back into the shadows of the cedars. He paced back and forth as his legs gave away his position. As I watched, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my second line of offense, my carlton mini open reed ,and squealed like a wounded dog giving up the ghost. As the sounds of my deceit reached   his panicking ears and confused state of mind, he made a beeline to the right of his fallen comrade, not knowing he had passed her due to the slight rise hiding her from view. As he headed for a better vantage point to find his fallen partner, he hesitated in an opening just before he could of reached the safety of an uprooted cedar. The assailant wasted no time in taking advantage of that fatal mistake. The roar of the .243 raped the landscape, notifying the occupants the ruling duo would harass them no more.
The Double Feb. 27th 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Calling the Coyotes Camp

By Duane Fronek

The day started as any other day set aside for calling. My partner Yotefever came to go calling and after the usual double checking that we had all our gear with us and in the truck, we set off. We were heading up into the National Forest about 3 miles from my place. In the dead of winter it’s a serene place to spend a day calling. As we reach the National our thoughts and talks are starting to develop a game plan on where to setup and whether they were compatible wind the light wind out of the north. A couple miles in on the ice and snow covered road, we spot a flock of ravens up ahead, assembled in there usual form fighting amongst themselves when they find a winter meal. As we’re approaching, the black cloud ascends and scatters about, taking their roosts to watch the intruders close in. What we discover is a half eaten carcass of a deer, road kill probably. We pull over to inspect the scene a little closer as to see who else may be visiting this resting place. Among all the raven tracks scattered about as if someone dumped a puzzle out, we were able to decipher coyote tracks intermingled with the ravens, and a single trail coming in from the north which contained a  thick tamarack swamp.

  Being the tracks of the coyote seemed to be quite fresh and pert near smoking, we decide to implement a quick game plan to coax out the guardian of this winter buffet. No doubt he is camped out back off the road enjoying a relaxing snooze that can only be induced with the intoxicating euphoria of a belly full of red meat.

  We jump in the 4x4 and head down the road about a ½ mile and pull to the side. We were about a 100 yds east of the edge of the tamarack swamp. With the wind coming out of the north we had a good chance at cracking this guys code. We head into the hardwoods looking for a good vantage point in which we could snipe an incoming visitor. As luck would have it and a little intuition as to how this country lays, we find ourselves a slight rise from the hardwoods that fingers out to a point that abruptly descends into a fairly open flat of maple saplings that thicken as they approach the tamaracks.

 With the wind sweeping through from right to left as we take our positions, I have yotefever  guard the downwind side with his 22-250 savage striker hand cannon. I figure the direction of an incoming suspect would opt to come in from that direction, giving yotefever the opportunity to add another notch on his pistol grip. For myself, I perched myself to yotefevers right out on the slight point, ready to snipe any incoming less educated dogs that ignored the wind.

  With our carcasses settled into the comforts of tree stumps, I lay my .243 across my lap while it waits to make it’s report. I pull out my open reed Carlton pee wee, a medium range call perfect for this type of assault. Within a few seconds of our concealment, I rape the air with the blood curdling pleading of a bunny that wants to live. The bunnies torment and piercing screams for help summoned a willing suspect within minutes of his first cries for help. Unbeknownst to me, the intended target came in down wind at lightning speed, right in to yotrefevers lap at 20yds in full tilt mode. Yotefever announced the arrival by unleashing the 22-250, sending a 40gr sleeping pill at the incoming blur of fur seen throw the cross hairs of his trusted Leupold. Problem was the incoming dog failed to take the pill and swapped ends to make his retreat.

  The crack of the 22-250 alerted the .243 to the situation unfolding to the left. I brought the .243 to full attention, and attempting to help the 100gr bullet find it’s mark through the ever thickening saplings, the monarch that rode her back did the best she could in guiding the pill to it’s intended target, but failed to part the way unobstructed. The intended “ending” to this hunt, left with his hide intact, but left behind a yellow trail for 50yds or so to let us know we gave him an education he will carry to his grave.

  After picking up our seats and what was left of our dignity, I decided to check out the trail that our lucky suspect left behind. As Yotefever was starting to regain his composure and settle his nerves, he said to me; warn me next time you decide to throw a coyote in my lap that fast. I told him I was just trying to surprise him.

  Well upon further inspection of the outgoing trail, I found where this fleeing dog actually lost control of all bladder functions, the yellow streak laid out on the snow better than 50 yds and I just had to laugh, yotefever wasn’t the only one rattled. Being curious, I decided to follow the incoming set of tracks just to see the incoming line of approach. To my surprise it was a fairly straight bee line for our fictional bunny in it’s death throws. But the real gem was I had found where our little friend came from, I found a nice little coyote bed nestled under a blown down tamarack, with another trail of which I followed and not surprisingly led to the deer carcass not 75yds away.

  Below is a short vid of the calling sequence that called this one in, it’s from the actual stand.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Full Moon Triple

By Duane Fronek

It was a fairly nice February day, temps in the 20’s. I had a buddy up for hunting coyotes. We made plans to go up into some back country that requires a 4 wheeler or snow mobile and snow shoes, a 6 mile trip from the main road. It was a river that snaked its way through some of the prettiest country around here. Going through tag alder marshes, tamarack swamps and popple slashes. The plan was to hit spots along this corridor for the day. It was a full moon cycle and we wanted to be out there when it rises.

  The moon was due to rise around 3:30 pm. In the past it seems moonrise was a very productive time and we wanted to capitalize on it.

  Our stands for the most part for the day only raised a few ravens and for some reason the chickadee’s , it seems their attracted to bunny screams, for they would flit around us and even had one land on my shoulder. We were fast approaching the magic of the moonrise and it was time to set up at our jewel of a spot we’ve been saving for this particular event.

  Thee spot was a fork in a river, with one leg coming from the west and the other from the north, conjoining together to flow south. To the north the river rambled through heavy tag alders, and  to the west it rolled in through tamaracks. My partner whom we’ll call “yotefever” as he calls himself for reason’s similar to buck fever. But make no mistake, he is a deadly assassin when you put that coyote out there beyond sniping range and with a center fire pistol to boot. On this particular day yotefever was packin’ a 6.5-.284 that bench pressed a 100gr ballistic tip out of a lever action single shot pistol that loaded through the breech, topped off with his leupy.  He was cocked, locked and ready to rock as I toting my trusty 700 that lived off the .243.

  We took our seats, with yotefever nestled up against a hummock facing north and me in the rear 20 yds back up against a stump facing west. With the sun hanging low to the south west and its night shift counterpart due to arrive shortly in the east we were ready to put that poor bunny to the test. I proceeded to scream through my red desert mouthpiece driving those talons deep into that poor bunnies back, it was a horrendous death, his screams so high they could cut through the ice that topped the river. Within moments a dark figure was spotted slinking across the  ice from the tags to the north about 600yds out, a half a second later another unsavory character followed suit, then another. A bonifide triple was forming a hit squad on the paw. As they made there way in at a semi trot, I whispered to yotefever, “dogs at 12 o’clock“, he gave me the thumbs up as I gave a short waaaah on the red desert to keep their interest. And interested they were. Closing the gap single file galloping down the white carpet heading  to yotefevers lap. When the lead hitman closed in on the 100yd mark he slowed his pace allowing his subordinates to take the lead. I could tell that dog was starting to get nervous, his posture was getting more hesitant. In all the excitement, it was just now becoming clear he was running into an ambush, he was facing right into the sun and the wind was blowing up his backside, he knew bad news was about to break, but the thought of that crimson colored meat had him hesitantly hooked. At that moment it dawned on me as well my mistake was about to magnify itself, as is the case when your too blind to see it in the first place. I had placed yotefever , not realizing it, right in the line of an incoming possibility, for he was between myself and the murderous trio.

  I was waiting for yotefever to give the bark of death as the deadly trio was pushing the 40 yd. mark. And just like many hunts before, the scene was about to go down . The bark of death rolled off of yotefevers tongue, in an instant the trio locked the brakes, with the two lead dogs facing each other posed to bolt as the rear dog stood sentinel another 40 or so yards back ready to witness the show. A semi- second later the roar of yotefevers pistol caused the two lead dogs to bolt, only to collide with each other causing their descent to the ice, As in slow motion I pull myself out of hiding in the crouched position moving in to yotefevers right so to get a shot at the  departing witness, as I come to yotefevers side I proceed to lock the cross hairs on the bolting dog who was now a couple hundred yards out , I send a 100 grainer in his direction but fails to slow him down. As I’m rackin’ the bolt for another round, thinking atleast 1 dog is dead on the ice and not knowing where the other went, two well furred critters jump from their iced slabs and getting traction peeled out, one heading straight away to catch up with the departed witness as the other heads to the hard right to the east. Now being surprised, rattled and mind going into frazzle mode, I send another round at the 2nd fleeing ball of fur. As I’m rackin the bolt for a 3rd round I glance down at yotefever trying to get another round in his, I swing around to the east bound dog who’s now truckin as if he’s floating across the ice at mach speed, I lead too much and blew snow up in front and just beyond his direction of travel. As I’m rackin the bolt for the 4rd round, the intended target hit’s the woods edge and stops for one glance back. I find him in the cross hairs of the Monarch and smile as I squeezed the trigger. The hammer drops striking air looking for the primer that wasn’t there, the coyote takes the cue and disappears leaving  behind a scene of despair.

  I look up into the eastern sky and there he is, the man on the moon peeking over the trees.

  After regaining our composure, we assessed the situation and checked out the spots where the shots were to connect. Yotefevers spot in the front row showed no blood, but long guard hair that graced the top of the first coyotes withers and no blood to be found, just a maze of scrambled tracks of 2 confused and temporarily scared witless coyotes. The hung up dogs postion, showed nothing but  snow and ice fluffed up from the .243 and which brings me to the last shot I realized I only loaded 3 rounds in the magazine After carefully investigating the scene and much head scratching, it was  determined that Yotefever hit us both that afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sportsmen & Outdoor Groups vs. Wildlife

By Duane Fronek

I’ve been debating about writing this for awhile, it’s basically just my view on what the different organizations out there today whether it’s fishermen, deer hunters, duck hunters, trappers and even some groups like the Timber Wolf Alliance. So before I proceed I would like to make it perfectly clear, that this  is in no way, condemning or saying any one of them is bad, as a matter a fact I belong to a few of them. And I share this same viewpoint with them inside the different groups I belong to, as I’m sharing here, and the reason being is, because I believe in what I believe strongly, as do those who do not see it in this way. All the outdoor sporting groups all play their important and necessary  part as they should, and I commend all the groups for their dedication and hard work. The ones I use as an example in this article are ones that are close to home so it’s not like I’m picking on certain groups, their just the ones I’ve seen more of and worked with more or has affected myself more and more importantly the wildlife around me.

  These groups pour a lot of money into their designated passions because after all, that’s their passion and it’s understood. But what I’ve seen, although good, there tends to be a certain degree of tunnel vision within these groups, some more than others.  And I believe that this tunnel vision is sometimes detrimental or maybe just not the best course of action as a whole for the wildlife outside of their preferred wildlife cause. Like an over all blanket way of doing things because it benefits their species of choice. But when you apply that blanket of say logic or way of management it can and does affect the rest of the eco-system around it. For every action there is a reaction, a chain of events sometimes not seen or even realized till a much later time, the domino effect. The recent wolf issues is a prime example of that, in all the haste to re-introduce this species, major things like how they were to be managed down the road or the effect on other wildlife populations as a whole were in my humble opinion over looked or put on the back burner in the haste to move the agenda forward, basically putting the cart before the horse.

  I guess the biggest thing is not seeing the whole picture. Take for example, here in WI the musky clubs would like to see either catch and release only or a 50” min. size on musky state wide. Sure that would say be a feasible thing when talking large lakes but as whole on every lake, I don’t believe is the way to go because of the other fisheries out there like panfish, walleyes etc. Some lakes would not even beable to sustain that without dire consequences to it’s fishery, you can’t stock pile wildlife and fish included. And I’m glad we have spring hearings with our state DNR for people to voice their pro’s and con’s. so that there is a balance out there. I guess when you look at it, we need to micro manage in a sense to the specific needs of everything as a whole in that particular lake.

  Take for example Trout Unlimited of which I’m a member, but I’m also a member of the WI. Trappers Assoc. as well, you would think that would be a perfect combo and at times it can be. I belong to both because I believe in both, but I do see where there can be improvement in the tunnel vision aspect to widen there perception and knowledge to be more of a benefit not for their respective members but for wildlife as a whole, because it isn’t what we think is best but because we need to do what is best as a whole for the wildlife, not ourselves. Here in WI. The beaver numbers are getting low and have dropped a lot in the last ten years. Here again is an animal that was so numerous in the 80’s that a bounty was put on them and limits were lifted, and left that way after the bounties ended with no fore thought as to what should be done when the beaver get back down to manageable numbers. So now the state is scrambling to figure out a solution to protect the resource. On one hand you have trappers that trap them and want to continue trapping them in years to come and want a little more stringent regulations put in place to limit or eliminate summer trapping of beaver that are causing damage or a more defined definition of what constitutes damage to prevent unnecessary removal of beaver by groups like Trout Unlimited. Trout Unlimited in this state want a zero tolerance for beaver on trout streams, problem is, most streams in WI are trout streams or waters in one category or another.

  Now, the past 3 years I have been involved in a stream restoration project involving a once premier trout water and cold water resource that fed anther major river here. That stream was basically ruined by beaver, but it took beaver 50 years to do it. The beaver turned the 9 miles of stream into a series of ponds that were warmed up to temps like bath water and silt deposits of extreme depths. The beaver had changed that environment considerably. It now no longer provided much needed cold water to it’s larger counterpart down stream, the trout fishery was pretty much destroyed. But on the other hand it now provided homes for a much more diverse set of residents, muskrats, coon, ducks, geese, deer not to mention turtles, clams and a variety of other plants and wildlife, the only thing missing was the fish and cold water. But something else was on the rise a new danger lurking that was right their in front of your face but not seen.

  The beaver were eating themselves out of house and home, the tree line had receded a considerable distance and in order to sustain the beaver the dams would have to become bigger to reach it, flooding out timber and land once it reached the new food source. The other danger that accompanies this scenario is the high risk of disease which would virtually eliminate the beaver there  eventually, plus the nasty stuff that grows in stagnant water. So in reality although it looked like as rugged a country you would ever see and everything was fine, it was basically destroying itself or if looked at it a different way mother nature taking it’s course and changing it to something else. Man has a habit of wanting change now, mother nature takes her time. So, even though the beaver were abundant on that stream, the rest of the state is not like that. So Trout Unlimited comes in to restore the stream to it’s original state, the DNR is involved and trapping is involved and it’s on it’s way to being what it once was. In order to do that the beaver need to be completely removed and dams blown so decades of silt can be flushed from the system, then a management plan to keep beaver out so that it can come back. Which I feel is the way to go in this instance. How ever you now have drastically changed the eco system on that stream and mother nature will adjust itself, ducks and geese will nest on adjoining waters, some muskrats will survive, some move on, bobcats will hang around but surplus ones now will travel in search of a new home and the list goes on.

  Now lets skip on over to another creek 10 miles south that feeds the same large river the one we just cleaned up that feeds the same large river. There’s beaver on it a few dams, but still fairly good flows of water and cold, gravel bottom, lots of trout, etc. Trout Unlimited has a zero tolerance for beaver on trout streams and feels those beaver need to be removed too. BUT, do they really need to be removed. The trout are fine the waters cold, so does it make sense as for the fishery and wildlife around to eliminate the beaver. No not really. I look at it like this, you need that creek left alone and let nature take its course, because you need the diversity to support wildlife that were displaced 10 miles north. Only thing is if it is manged properly like selective trapping the beaver so they don’t totally destroy the stream, you’ll have a longer run not only on it being a healthier stream, but healthier all around for the wildlife around it. Basically farm it. Because if you go at the angle of no beaver on the streams you are creating a more sterile enviroment sustaining less wildlife. It takes years to make a trout stream unproductive from beaver, it really does and I mean 20, 30-40 years. Not a couple. I know of a stream with beaver dams on my dad fished in his teens that I fished as an adult with the same dams in place and the size and fishing was great, until that was cleaned out and beaver removed. So I know it takes a long time for a stream to be a wasteland.

  Now enter the trapper, he wants to see more beaver because part of his income comes from beaver, they would rather see the beaver dams and streams like the plugged up one left alone because it’s a benefit to what he does, just like what the TU guys want done because it benefits what they do. But what really matters here is what’s best as a whole for wildlife and that’s where all of us no matter what association or organization we belong to and our goals as such, need to look at what we do. How does it affect everything else in the grand scheme of things as a whole, because in the end, that’s what matters most for future generations to come. And the unnecessary shock to the system as was seen on the over populated stream to change it back.

  I hope I didn’t come off as condemning, because that’s not what I’m trying to get across, I belong to TU as well as the WI TA and other assoc. as well. And just thought I’d point this type of thing out so we all, no matter what we’re involved in take a better non bias look at what each of our groups are wanting to accomplish and how it affects everything as a whole. Whether we’re for ducks or deer or bears etc. And what is better for the eco-system in the long run.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Teaming up on Coyotes

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Teaming up on Coyotes: "By Duane Fronek When it comes to predator calling, it’s just like anything else, you have to have a game plan. That game plan becomes more..."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things that go Click in the Night and other Fails

By Duane Fronek

 Ever have those days that everything just feels so right for a hunt. The wind is perfect, your inner spirit that connects with the outdoor world feels completely engulfed with each other intertwined in harmony. Nothing can go wrong, you set up on stand and throw screams into the airwaves that carry into the realm of the coyotes world. And like a midnight dream the coyote appears as a ghost completely entranced to the song your singing, trotting in like a pure breed racehorse clueless to the impending doom. He stops and takes a seat, swiping the air with his nose looking for the encore. It’s perfect, 140 yds out, the canvas is white, the moon is full, the subject is still as a rock. Then it happens, the click on an empty chamber, the pin drop , the scratch in the record when the music stops, -10 below and the echo across the land sends  your failure out there for all to hear, while the subject heads for cover. Murphy’s Law has arrived. Being so pumped to get out on the stand I forgot to rack a round in the chamber, no matter how hard I pleaded with wiley who was lurking in the shadows of the pines he would only talk trash. For 45 min. we sassed each other but to no avail, ol’ Murphy made his mark.

  It’s happened to all of us and seems that no matter how hard you try and double check, triple check to make sure all your ducks are in a row, sooner or later Murphy’s law shows up. Why? I don’t know, could be your so entranced or excited to get to the stand or constant repetition that your mind already check listed before your body acted, or just one of those things you can’t control, the unexpected. Either way in both scenarios there seems to be nothing you can do once the deed is done, but sit in awestruck complicated emotion muttering to yourself.

  As I did, one morning perched upon a ridge overlooking a river I’ve called and sent many a coyote to never never land. A pair of coyotes trotting in with bad deeds on their mind that was being fed with blood curdling bunny cries. It was perfect harmony, falling together as planned. Dropping the cross hairs on the lead dog, the .243 following it in like a well trained bloodhound. Touching the trigger to light the fire, the dog hit the ice as if you cut the strings on a puppet. Delighted I raise up to take a bead on the fleeing accomplice only to find much yardage had past and brush had grown in the seconds after the homicide.

  Then it happens, I realize Murphy’s law had paid me a visit as the corner of my eye catches a glimpse of the deceased  scooting to cover. I felt the blood rush from my brain to my stomach. I MISSED????!!! HOW COULD THAT BE???? THAT DOG WAS DOWN!!!

  After regaining my composure atleast what could be regained. I went to the spot the dog had fallen. The story in the snow told of my failure. The ice was slick as grease under the snow, and I could see where the coyote attempted to turn in an instant but the feet failed to grab and went out from under her, the bullet at that moment had hit the ice inches behind her last track, which in turn triggered her turning response. Her chin hit the ice as she went down knocking her out. My failure wasn’t realized until it was too late. I did not stop the dog before I shot, which in this case was crucial as she was coming straight on while looking down on her and not leading. I got caught up, too confident in the moment forgetting one crucial piece of the game plan, the “BARK” that stops them for the shot. With my head hung low I headed back to the truck empty handed, taking this lesson in to the fullest and muttering to Murphy.
Where Murphy paid a visit. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blasting Beaver Dams video footage

Here's some blasting footage from blowing up beaver dams on a creek restoration project I'm involved in. Enjoy.

Foremost Coyote Hunting: When is the best time to call coyotes?

Foremost Coyote Hunting: When is the best time to call coyotes?: "Productive Times for Calling Coyotes By Duane Fronek The Best Time To Call- Any Time You Can! Seems the million dollar question when ..."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Scent And Scent Control For Coyotes

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Scent And Scent Control For Coyotes: "By Duane Fronek When it comes to hunting, one of the first things that comes up is scent… what types of scent to use and how to control you..."

My First Coyote

My First Coyote
By Duane Fronek

  Back when I first got into this insane game of predator calling. I knew absolutely nothing about it. I’ve been trapping a number of years before and always heard about calling and seeing ads in hunting and trapping magazines advertising predator calls. At the time, before I got an interest in it, I thought  it was some kind of gimmick. You know one of those things that this product will stack up the critters for you like cord wood. To say the least I was skeptical. I read an article where a trapper had used a predator call at sets before dark to help increase his catch by calling, then leaving and having a coyote or fox in his set come morning. So I thought to myself, you know I might just try that. I went to the local sporting goods store looking for a mouth call. I found an Olt closed reed predator call. When I got it home I read the directions on how to blow it. Well when I did, I thought to myself what animal would come to something so loud that sounded like a New Years Eve party horn. I had to laugh and thought, yeah right!. After all I was taught all my life while hunting that being quiet and still was paramount in being successful on a hunt.

  But I thought to myself, it won’t hurt to try it at a fox set then leave and see what happens. That evening I took my call and went to where I had a fox set. It was just before dark. I sat down  with no rifle(shows how much faith I had in this gig) and started calling. After the 10 min. mark or so I got up and left, went home and thought about it, is this gonna work or did I just scare every critter out of the country. Well the next morning came and time to check traps, the first set I checked of course was the one I called on. And low and behold there’s a beautiful red fox jumping around with a bracelet on. I was shocked and perplexed. Did the call help bring this fox in? Or was it a coincidence? At either rate it had my mind churning, thinking, devising and basically cluttered with all kinds of thoughts and ideas.

  I decided to take this calling thing a little further. I started reading articles on calling, mostly Fur-Fish and Game, and the Trapper and Predator Caller, articles by Gerry Blair, Judd Cooney and others in the field taught me through their words in their articles. I took this knowledge and applied it to my new quest, to call in a fox or coyote to the gun. At the time I only had a 22mag. for this game, my 8mm deer rifle was too much for these critters if I wanted to save the hide they will so graciously donate. Well it wasn’t that easy. As hard as I tried, screaming in vain through that call I just couldn’t get any critter or any critter I was hunting for to come in. I had plenty of crows, ravens and hawks and eagles respond, but no four footed furry critters, well except for deer that seemed to take an interest in my doings, sometimes with an audience of 5-8 deer watching me, until I stood up and moved from the shadows when I was done. I figure I must be getting close to doing something right and sooner or later I’d connect. Well it turned out to be later, as a matter a fact a year later. It took me till the next winter to call in my first coyote.

  The day I called in my first coyote still stands out in my mind and how it played out.  It was around 8am, we just had a front blow through leaving behind 5 inches of snow, it was just ending as I got to my stand and the wind was surprisingly still. I took my seat upon a ridge over looking the frozen Wolf River, it was mid-January. I pulled out a new call I had recently purchased, a Johnny Stewart closed reed rabbit distress. I started to blow on the call producing the most heinous screams I could muster. I’d blow intermittently 8-10 seconds, pause repeat.  After about 2 minutes into the set-up their they were, like ghosts appearing out of nowhere, 500 yds or so upstream. They had came from the woods on the opposite side. I continued to call, while the two blood thirsty carnivores came running down the river with murder in their eyes. I never seen an animal come running so fast with so much enthusiasm and so eager to die, it reminded of little kids chasing after the ice cream truck not watching for cars. They were on a mission, as they were coming one would nip at the other trying to trip the other one up so he could get there first. When they hit about the 300 yd mark, I didn’t know what to do, so I stopped  calling, but they didn’t stop coming. When they hit a little island of basically tag alders, they just pushed right though. However upon emerging  from the tags one coyote bit at the other coyotes front leg, tripping him up and rolling him in the snow as he continued to the distressful bunny that must be up ahead. Although briefly knocked off course the second coyote wasted no time getting back in the race. Little did he know that seconds later that little stunt would prove to have saved his hide for another day. For just as he was coming up from behind, a silent assassin sitting above already had his not so friendly comrade in the cross hairs, a second later a 40gr HP from the 22mag found bone beneath the mane covering her shoulder blades as her nose was sniffing in the fluffy snow. In an instant he swapped his tail for his head and was gone, leaving his accomplice splayed out on the fresh fluffy snow. That was 20 years ago and I still remember it as if it were yesterday.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hunts from Moon Lights past

Here’s a couple hunts from a couple years ago, just happened to find them in my folders.
I received my new antler open reed call  from a guy called Arky Yoter (Joe Bradshaw),so I had to give it a try. It sounds great. Well the nite before last I missed a coyote that came in to the syco tweety, I miss judged the distance in the fog. Anyway, last nite I decided to go out again in the moonlight, the first stand I made was behind a farm where I've taken quite a few coyotes over the years both calling and trapping. It was about 10:30pm with a light haze across the field but it was high enough that you could see well, it just hung there like a ghostly canopy. Well about 5 min. into my calling the haze dropped and I couldn’t see but 10yds. so I packed it up and went looking for a spot with no fog. The next spot produced zip after calling about 30min.So off to my next spot hoping it wouldn’t be foggy there. Well when I got there it was perfect, no fog, no wind and best of all it was right behind a pheasant farm. This spot had rolling hills and was basically pasture because it was too rocky to till for crops. So I head down the lane on foot after parking my truck.I walked about 200yds from the truck and decided to sit on the west fence line facing N-NE, the wind was from the NW and the moon was to my back causing the tree behind me to cast a nice shadow. I was looking into a bowl shaped 40 acre pasture with a high hill to the N that chopped off into little knowls or berms to the south. I've trapped many coyotes and fox in this pasture over the years but never really called it but once before. Anyway I pull out the new antler call I got from Joe and started in on the rabbit wails doing considerable damage to that little critter, it sounded beautiful. About 20 minutes into the stand I noticed the wind picking up and had one of them inklings telling me I should look to my right to see if anything is trying to sneak in down wind. There was a little hill to my right between me and the south fence line. I seen what looked like the top of a fence post standing out like a sore thumb, but noticed it had 2 points on top of it,so I glassed it and sure enough it was a redfox trying to put the sneak on me. I moved my body so I was facing him, all that I could see was his head to just below his chin, he was facing me straight on. I put the cross hairs just under his chin and squeezed off the shot and sent the 100gr sierra from the .243 his way. I heard the unmistakable thwack of bullet hitting meat and bone and he disappeared when he dropped out of sight because of the hill.I gathered up my gear and went to pick him up, it was 141 paces to him. When I got to him he was stone dead, the bullet exited on his right side in the neck, it was a considerable hole but the rest of him is salvageable for a nice hat, I dont see many fox calling so I use the 100gr because on coyotes the hole is about the size of a dime and drops them right now, and I can use the same bullet for deer. The next stand produced zip,the wind was really picking up, so I called it another night.

 A few nights later the weather changed for the colder. We had wind chill warnings out all weekend,-35 below. But couldn't stand seeing the moonlight go to waste. Called a friend who's just getting into calling, and I guess he's as nuts as me. We went out about 9pm.We made our first stand in an alfalfa field that runs along a nice little cedar swamp. We had a cross wind, and tucked our selves in the fence row shadows, with the swamp straight out in front of us about 450 yards.

I started the stand with a lone howl from my Red Desert mouth piece. Then waited about 5 min.

Then I started the bunny screams on an Arky yoter antler call,I really laid into it because the wind was howlin' pretty loud. I thought I seen a spot out in the field about 3 min later, about 250yds out, but couldn't tell if it was a coyote. My eyes were watering real bad from the wind. So I thought I'd give the pup distress a crack, to see if that spot would move. When I lit up my puppy squeals on the red desert, that spot not only moved, he came smokin' in, at about 50yds I woofed at him so he'd stop, he did no such thing, never skipped a beat, he was on a mission. So I smoked him at about 40 with the .243 ending his life of crime.My partner couldn't get a shot off and glad I took him. A few nites before, I called one in for him, but he missed. I told him it takes practice to keep your nerves calm to shoot, and not to worry about it, he'll get get one sooner or later.

We made a couple more stands, but nothing. One stand got fouled up, just as we were heading across a field, at 12am,a squad pulled up by our truck, that was pulled off the highway. He shined the field, and spotted us, so we headed over by him, and let him know what we were doing. He said no problem, he thought maybe someone was stranded, and on a nite like this, it could be dangerous with the cold. We sat and shot the breeze for awhile, showed him the yote, then parted ways and hit another stand before heading home.
We went out the next night, but only called in a Barred owl, which BTW, hit me in the head. His talons scratched my left eyebrow, and snagged my face mask, and his tail feathers brushed against my face. I caught movement right by my head and threw up my hand, and glad I did, because, I probably would have been missing an eye. I've had owls swoop at me before, but none ever almost connected like this one did. What happened was I usually wear a billed cap with a stocking cap over it, but being so cold I had a face mask and stocking cap on and the billed hat was too much bother. So while I was calling on my last series of a bunny getting the business I had heard a twig snap across the spring hole in the cedars. I figured it might be a critter coming in cautiously so I hit my squeaker and BAM!!! The fury of death on wings was in my face. I figure with my eye watering that it glistened in the moonlight and no bill on my hat to hide it gave him an easy target. My calling partner was like what the **** was that, while the angel of rabbit death hovered over us trying to figure out if he could still take me. It was a good thing we had heavy insulated cover alls on or our soaked pants would have froze to the ground. Now I always have a billed cap on while night hunting making sure my eyes are shielded from above. You just never know who your going to invite for dinner.
 Sneaky little Red, or atleast he thought he was.
Thirty-five below zero moonlight coyote, those puppy kiyi's where just too much for him to bear.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why we need to de-list the Wolf

Why Wolves need to be Delisted
By Duane Fronek

With all fuss over the wolf these days on protecting or not protecting it is my belief we need to de-list the wolf in order to protect the resource. Animal protection groups want the wolf to stay on the list, they base their opinion on emotion rather than science. They are under the assumption that wolves will become extinct if de-listed and that they self regulate their population. Well if they stay on the list they will eventually become extinct and self regulate themselves in a sense, but not by their choosing but by their nature. In the sense the animal that’s at the top of a food chain to go unchecked will eventually over populate and eat themselves out of house and home, then the self regulate comes in, it’s called disease and starvation and mother nature is very unforgiving in that dept.

 So how will de-listing the wolf protect it? Well we’ve all seen the effects of regulated hunting and trapping on a species. Whether it be deer or bear or bobcats. When you start opening seasons on an animal such as a wolf many things will take place. One is you’ll start getting an accurate number as to what the population is because of the fact when a wolf is harvested it will be studied just like other animals like bobcat and otter, etc. When these animals are studied because the carcass is turned in to state or federal game managers they look at the age of the animal, the sex, what it’s feeding on, how many pups it had if it’s a breeding female. All these calculations are used to determine an over all population closest to the true population. In turn it helps decide harvest goals to keep the population at a level that the natural habitat around it can support, it’s called sustainable harvest. Which in turn helps prevent damage to the rest of the natural ecosystem, such as prey base and available land out there and to ensure the animals that are out there stay healthy and free of disease. Which at times can produce a health risk to people. By keeping the wolf in check and monitored more closely due to trapping and hunting seasons you also cut down on predation on livestock that costs the taxpayers money as well.

 If the wolf stays on the threatened list, it risks a serious threat to it’s very existence as well as those around it. Not just by over eating available prey species or starvation and disease. But by unreported killings of wolves themselves. If an animal becomes so much of a threat that peoples hands are tied, people will take it upon themselves to alleviate the problem themselves, the problem with that besides the obvious, is the resource is wasted, the population numbers are always in question because there is no real benchmark to gauge what the population really is. Your basically doing the species a disservice. If animal protection groups really wanted the wolf to flourish like they say they do, they really need to leave Disneyland and look at hard evidence supporting  regulated hunting and trapping. Another plus to the de-listing and to regulate hunting and trapping of the wolf, is the revenue generated by license sales. License revenue  goes into the management of the resource just like it does with bobcats and otters and fishers. It’s actually in a sense self funded costing the tax payer less in the long run. Hunters and Trappers and Fishermen and women have paid billions of dollars over the decades to preserve wild lands and protect natural resources and species. The animal protectionists basically don’t put their money where their mouth is, they spend donations on lawsuits etc, but  contribute pretty much nothing to habitat and wildlife management and their lawsuits in the federal and state courts take money away from the management end of wildlife and habitat.

  Bottomline if we as sportsmen and women and the people in this country want the wolf to survive , the wolf needs to be de-listed. It will put the wolf in a light that can be studied and managed properly and not behind a curtain where assumptions can be made which can be more detrimental to the species more than so called full protection. It’s in the species best interest and overall health of a population to be de-listed and regulated.

Below is a list through August of Wolf Depredation in WI.

Wolf Depredations for 2010_Here is a complete list of wolf depredations so far for 2010 in WI. Confirmed and suspected. I don't understand the reluctance of the WI. DNR not posting this as public information. I had to request this in order to get the info. The DNR has no problem posting "Hunting" dogs and how it's the owners fault for hunting in wolf rendezvous site areas. We need to inform the public on just out of hand the wolf over population is the damage they are doing and apply pressure on the Feds. To de-list the wolves and allow the states to manage the population according to their management plans put in place.

WS #...................Date............type.......... ..........................County

RHL 001-2010.......1/6/2010....1 horse injured.........................ChippewaWaupun
01-2010...1/9/2010....1 dog ( husky mix) injured..........Jackson
RHL 002-2010.......1/11/2010...Health & Safety concern............Ashland
RHL 003-2010.......1/15/2010...1 dog inj. ( lab retriever - pet)....Sawyer
RHL 004-2010.......1/13/2010...4 dogs missing ( Welch Corgi).....Taylor
RHL 005-2010.......1/28/2010...Health & Safety concern............ForestWaupun
 02-2010...1/31/2010...2 dog (husky mix, Malamute mix).Jackson
RHL 006-2010.......2/3/2010.....2 geese..................................Burnett
RHL 007-2010.......2/3/2010.....Harassement of horses..............Vilas
RHL 008-2010.......2/3/2010.....1dog (Redbone coonhound)........Oconto
RHL 009-2010.......2/7/2010.....2 sheep..................................Marathon
RHL 010-2010.......2/12/2010...Human Health and Safety...........Washburn
RHL 011-2010.......2/26/2010...Adult Ewes..............................Eau Claire
RHL 012-2010.......2/24/2010...Threat to cattle.......................DouglasWaupun
 03-2010...2/26/2010...1 dog (American Samoyed) inj.....Portage
RHL 013-2010.......3/19/2010...6 calves..................................LincolnWaupun
04-2010...3/20/2010...1 heifer (9 months old)..............Manitowoc
RHL 014-2010.......3/26/2010...1 dog (Brittnay Spaniel).............Dunn
RHL 015-2010.......3/25/2010...1 calf.....................................Forest
RHL 016-2010.......3/30/2010...1 Heifer calf.............................Florence
RHL 017-2010.......4/4/2010.....1 bull calf................................Barron
RHL 018-2010.......3/30/2010....2 beef calves..........................DouglasWaupun
 05-2010...4/5/2010.....1 Beef Calf..............................BuffaloWaupun
07-2010...4/25/2010...1 Beef Calf..............................MonroeWaupun
 08-2010...5/7/2010.....1 Beef Calf..............................MonroeWaupun
 09-2010...5/15/2010...1 dog (Miniature Cocker Spaniel)..AdamsWaupun
10-2010...5/16/2010...2 Short Horn Calves...................JacksonWaupun
11-2010...5/22/2010...1 Beef Calf...............................Juneau
RHL 019-2010.......4/5/2010.....1 Captive Whitetail Deer.............Oneida
RHL 020-2010.......4/2/2010.....1 Cow (pregnant)......................Lincoln
RHL 021-2010.......4/5/2010.....2 Cow ( pregnant cow and calf)..Lincoln
RHL 022-2010.......4/7/2010.....2 Dogs (1 Dachshund Hound injured, 1 Dachshund Hound killed)........................................... .............Iron
RHL 023-2010.......4/1/2010.....1 Calf......................................Douglas
RHL 024-2010.......4/26/2010...1 Calf (Black Angus)...................Iron
RHL 025-2010.......4/28/2010...1 Heifer (Holstein)......................Price
RHL 026-2010.......4/19/2010...1 Calf (newborn)........................Chippewa
RHL 027-2010.......5/2/2010.....1 Beef Calf...............................Rusk
RHL 028-2010.......4/21/2010...1 dog (Pit Bull Mix) inj.................DouglasWaupun
 06-2010...4/14/2010...1 Calf (Line Back, newborn).........Trempealeau
RHL 029-2010.......4/26/2010...1 dog (German Short Hair)...........Vilas
RHL 030-2010.......4/27/2010...Human Health and Safety............Vilas
RHL 031-2010.......4/26/2010...1 Beef Calf (month old)...............Burnett
RHL 032-2010.......4/27/2010...1 Beef Calf................................Price
RHL 033-2010.......4/30/2010...1 Calf (Holstein).........................Douglas
RHL 034-2010.......5/5/2010.....1 Horse (Harassment).................Marinette
RHL 035-2010.......5/3/2010.....1 Calf ( 2-3 week old).................Marathon
RHL 036-2010.......5/8/2010.....1 Holstein Heifer.........................Price
RHL 037-2010.......5/3/2010.....1 Holstein Bull Calf......................Lincoln
RHL 038-2010.......5/10/2010...Human Health and Safety.............Lincoln
RHL 039-2010.......4/30/2010...1 Beef Calf................................Bayfield
RHL 040-2010.......5/7/2010....1 Dog (Japanese Chin) inj.............Vilas
RHL 041-2010.......5/16/2010...1 Dog ( Lab pet)........................Ashland
RHL 042-2010.......5/13/2010...1 Beef Calf................................Taylor
RHL 043-2010.......5/10/2010...1 Dog ( Spaniel/ Pitbull cross) inj...Shawano
RHL 044-2010.......4/21/2010...1 Calf (Holstein Heifer).................LangladeRHL 045-2010.......4/21/2010...1 Calf (Beef bull).........................Marathon
RHL 046-2010.......5/11/2010...3 chickens.................................Oconto
RHL 047-2010.......5/17/2010...1 Calf (Angus beef, newborn.........Burnett
RHL 048-2010.......5/19/2010...1 Dog inj...................................Price
RHL 049-2010.......5/22/2010...1 Calf (beef) inj..........................Taylor
RHL 050-2010.......5/14/2010...1 White Tailed Deer (male 4-5 old).Oneida
RHL 051-2010.......5/24/2010...1 Calf (beef) inj..........................Price
RHL 052-2010.......5/13/2010...1 Calf (month old beef)................Burnett
RHL 053-2010.......5/12/2010...1 Alpaca....................................Barron
RHL 054-2010.......5/26/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Ashland
RHL 055-2010.......5/26/2010...Human Health and Safety..............Ashland
RHL 056-2010.......5/10/2010...1 Calf (Angus beef)......................Douglas
RHL 057-2010.......5/10/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Burnet
tRHL 058-2010.......5/12/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Burnett
RHL 059-2010.......5/28/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Taylor
RHL 060-2010.......5/28/2010...Human Health and Safety...............Lincoln
RHL 061-2010.......6/1/2010.....1 Calf (Angus).............................Sawyer
RHL 062-2010.......6/3/2010.....Human Health and Safety..............Ashland
RHL 063-2010.......5/14/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Burnett
RHL 064-2010.......5/14/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Douglas
RHL 065-2010.......5/17/2010...1 Calf (beef)...............................Douglas
RHL 066-2010.......5/26/2010...1 Dog (Lab mix) inj.......................Douglas
RHL 067-2010.......5/21/2010...1 Heifer ( beef)...........................Douglas
RHL 068-2010.......6/4/2010....Threat to horses and donkeys........Marathon
RHL 069-2010.......6/3/2010....2 beef calves..............................Dunn
RHL 070-2010.......6/7/2010....1 dog (Lab/ Collie mix) injured.........Barron
RHL 071-2010.......6/10/2010..1 Calf (Holstein steer)...................Dunn
RHL 073-2010.......5/6/2010....1 Calf (beef)...............................Douglas
RHL 074-2010.......5/26/2010..1 Calf (beef)................................Douglas
RHL 075-2010.......5/29/2010..1 Calf (beef)................................Douglas
RHL 076-2010.......6/14/2010..2 horses Harrassed........................DouglasWaupun 12-2010...6/9/2010....2 dogs (Pitbulls) 1 injured...............Columbia
RHL 72-2010.........6/10/2010..1 Beef Calf..................................Price
RHL 78-2010.........6/17/2010..1 Cow (beef)...............................Langlade
RHL 79-2010.........6/15/2010..1 Beef Calf..................................Burnett
RHL 80-2010.........6/28/2010..1 bull calf...................................Menomonie
RHL 81-2010.........6/25/2010..1 bull calf...................................Lincoln
RHL 82-2010.........6/7/2010....1 Beef Calf.................................Burnett
RHL 83-2010.........6/10/2010..1 Beef Calf..................................Burnett
RHL 84-2010.........6/21/2010..1 Beef Calf..................................Douglas
RHL 85-2010.........7/5/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Bayfield
RHL 86-2010.........6/4/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Douglas
RHL 87-2010.........7/6/2010....5 Beef Calves..............................Rusk
RHL 88-2010.........7/6/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Ashland
RHL 89-2010.........7/7/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Price
RHL 90-2010.........7/6/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Dunn
RHL 91-2010.........7/10/2010..1 Dog (Plott Hound)......................Forest
RHL 92-2010.........7/8/2010....1 Beef Calf..................................Douglas
RHL 93-2010.........7/12/2010..1 Bull Calf...................................Eau Claire
RHL 94-2010.........7/15/2010..1 Beef Calf..................................Eau ClaireWaupun
 13-2010...7/12/2010..1 Heifer Calf................................JacksonWaupun
 14-2010...7/16/2010..1 Guinea Hen...............................PortageWaupun
 15-2010...7/20/2010..1 Goose......................................PortageWaupun
 16-2010...7/24/2010..1 Dog (Malamute).........................Jackson
RHL 95-2010.........7/13/2010..1 Calf (Angus Red) injured..............Ashland
RHL 96-2010.........7/13/2010..1 Calf (beef)................................Ashland
RHL 97-2010.........7/16/2010..1 Dog ( Redtick Hound)..................Ashland
RHL 98-2010.........7/17/2010..1 Calf (Angus)..............................Bayfield
RHL 99-2010.........7/18/2010..1 Lamb and 1 Lamb injured.............Price
RHL 100-2010.......7/19/2010..4 Calves (beef).............................Rusk
RHL 101-2010.......7/20/2010..1 Calf.........................................Barro n
RHL 102-2010.......7/26/2010..6 Calves (beef).............................Barron
RHL 103-2010.......7/8/2010....5 sheep......................................Maratho n
RHL 104-2010.......7/22/2010..1 Cow and 1 Calf (beef).................Ashland
RHL 105-2010.......7/26/2010..1 Dog (Walker Hound)....................Oneida
RHL 106-2010.......7/29/2010..1 Cow (Holstein)...........................Marathon
RHL 107-2010.......7/22/2010..2 Horses Harrassed........................Douglas
RHL 108-2010.......7/23/2010..1 Calf (beef) injured.......................Ashland
RHL 109-2010.......7/29/2010..1 Calf (beef)................................Douglas
RHL 110-2010.......7/25/2010..1 Dog (Plott Hound).......................Bayfield
RHL 111-2010.......7/29/2010..1 Dog (Plott Hound).......................Bayfield
RHL 112-2010.......7/29/2010..1 Dog ( Walker Hound)...................Bayfield
RHL 113-2010.......8/2/2010....1 Calf (beef) Threat......................Bayfield
RHL 114-2010.......8/2/2010....1 Dog ( Walker Hound)...................Oconto
RHL 115-2010.......8/2/2010....1 Dog (Plott Hound) injured.............Forest

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flatsets for Trapping Coyotes

Flatsets, the under utilized gem
By: Duane Fronek

 When it comes to canine trapping and what sets to use what’s the first set to come to mind? In most instances the dirt hole set is the first. And it stands to reason, it’s relatively simple to construct and understand, gives eye appeal, etc. But in my opinion there’s another set out there that gets less attention which is easier to construct with less work involved but remains under utilized and that’s the flatset. Sure the flatset may have less eye appeal, but that depends on who’s looking at it, you or the coyote. The flatset is nothing new, it’s been around for decades and has many coyotes and fox to it’s credit, yet it seems a trapper is less likely to utilize it as readily as a dirthole. Why? I don’t know. But if you think about it a lot frustration can come along with a dirt hole, especially for a beginner, things like the angle of the hole, trap placement, dirt patterns, which can dictate your success or misses. With the flatset you get away from that at least  for the most part. I do speculate however that one of the reasons the flatset is less likely to be used, is a trappers confidence in the set itself because of the lack of bells and whistles. But subtle can be just as deadly and even more so if your in an area with high competition or you’ve been putting a hurt on the population yourself. Dirtholes in these situations can just plain go dead.

 I was one of those diehard dirt hole guys, but over the years I’ve seen the benefits of the flatset and began using them more and more to the point where a good majority of my sets are flatsets these days. When I set a location I’ll usually gang set it with 3 or more traps and a lot of times I’ll just have one or two dirt holes in for some added appeal to the location, but the other sets will be flat sets and more times than not, the flatset will be holding the coyote or the double in the morning.

  Let’s look at location first. For the most part location is the key for any trapping, but with the flatset lacking visual eye appeal at least eye appeal that can be seen from a distance vs. a big dirt hole is a little more critical. I use the flat set in the same locations I use dirt holes, fence intersections, logging road intersections, farm lane intersects, crop changes etc. Same basic locations just more on thee spot. By this I mean right in the animals travel way or within a few feet, unlike a dirt hole that you can set a little off but the visual hole can bring them within nose shot so to speak. One of my favorite locations I look for is a territorial marker which will usually consist of piles of scat and kickbacks, these a lot of times are located  off the corner of fields or intersections and are deadly spots for the flatset. And this is where I mean eye appeal is in the eye of the beholder. Up close scat is very interesting to a canine, and is a very good visual, just watch your dog where another dog did his business. Now put scat on a flatset and it’ll put a coyote on the stretcher. Or put a trap in front of that pile of scat you found and a shot of urine on that scat and it can be deadly, simple but deadly.

 One of the things I like about flatsets is their versatility and simplicity. They take less elbow grease to put in and quicker. One of my favorites is one a friend of mine Jack Hill told me about, I had read about it years ago but never really gave it a thought. Basically take a coyote or fox turd put it down and bed your trap in front of it, which I’ve done for years and for me I like to bed the trap 12 inches straight out from the scat. But here’s the twist. On each side of the trap about 12-15 inches in the 3 O’clock and 9 O’clock position’s punch a hole in the ground with your cable stake driver or rebar stake where the direction of the hole is pointed toward your trap. With the turd and 2 holes you’ll have a triangle with your trap in the middle right on the line between the 2 holes. What you do here is give a shot of urine to the turd and put your lures in the punched holes. I’ve tried different combos of lure and it all works. You can put a call lure down one and a food or gland lure in the other one, or just a smear of bait in one and lure in another. It all works. The idea is to get the animal to move it’s feet around increasing your chances of a catch.

 A lot of times I’ll just punch a hole with my driver into a clump of grass or the base of a corn stalk and bed the trap in front of it, put lure in the hole and your good to go. The hole is just something to keep your lure in one spot, you could just apply it to the ground under that clump or base of a corn stalk, but I feel the hole keeps the lure from washing away from rain or drying out from sun and wind. Also instead of putting it at the base of a corn stalk I’ve taken and hollowed out the top of a cut stalk and put the lure in that. Other times in harvested soybean fields or rye fields I’ll just scrape up a small pile of  chaff bed my trap in front of it, punch a small hole for lure and I’m set. Or use a small rock with lure under it or under a piece of bark. You get the picture. If your on location, you basically just need to bed the trap and apply lure to the object, it doesn’t get any simpler that that. For blending I try to find a spot that really doesn’t need it or very little. But if I need to blend I’ll use whatever is on the spot, chaff in a wheat field or soybean etc. I just rub it through my sifter over the set. What I like about all these sets is the different ways you can make the set and catch canines off guard. Dirt holes aren’t as subtle and can cost you fur in high competition areas or if you pinch a coyote in a dirt hole it can be a problem getting it to commit again..

 I had an incident this year that shown me just how nice the flatset is. It was a location that butted up against an enclosed deer farm where the owner is always trying to catch coyotes inside and is normally a tough field to trap. We had a horrific rain and wind storm come thru this fall and while checking sets, one of my flatset  on this property was hit, there where coyote tracks in the dirt, trap was tripped with a little hair on the jaws and a small rock holding the jaws open. My heart sank. I figured the heavy rain helped roll the rock over the trap before the coyote came thru. Well, I re-bedded the trap, it was set up against a turd in a spot with multiple turds laying around and kick-backs. I gave the turd a shot of urine and left it. The next day a coyote had left his calling card again but didn’t get caught. So I picked up the 2 piles of scat and put them in my scat bucket and put another one in its place from another area of my line, gave it a shot of urine and left it. The next day held a coyote, I remade the set, put a fresh turd there and a shot of urine and 2 days later caught another coyote off it. Well I remade the set the same way again. Three or four days went by and no action on it, so instead of pulling it I just punched in to holes with my driver at 9 and 3 O’clock, next day I had another coyote, only this one was missing all his toes on one foot all healed over. That’s 3 coyotes in one set. Also note I had 2 dirt holes at this same spot and both went untouched. On the opposite end of this field was a similar spot with scat and a flatset put in and a dirt hole. On my final check on this field that flatset held my biggest coyote to date, a 45 pound male, by the looks of his teeth I’d guess he was around 4 years old. What was interesting here was there were coyote tracks at the dirt hole with the trap dug out, I’m guessing it was the same coyote, but who knows, all I know is he was in the flat set 20 feet away.

 In another location, I had where coyotes were coming in and feeding on a dead cow. I found the route they were traveling and managed to catch 8 in both dirt holes and flat sets until it went dead, I even caught my first wolf and it was on a flatset remake here. The remaining coyotes coming in changed their route. They were avoiding that location. I located that new route and put in a dirt hole and a flatset. I had 2 coyotes in two checks, both were caught in the flatset both the original flatset and the remake of that set.

 I’m finding myself utilizing the flatset more and more every year. I’m finding that coyotes have a harder time getting wise to them, especially if you mix up how you make them. I’m not saying they won’t ever wise up to them, but I think it’s not as easy as wising up to a dirt hole. It seems easier to catch them off guard.

 Give flatsets a more honest shot this year and you’ll see what I’m talking about, those of you already utilizing them already know what I’m talking about.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Types of Predator Calls (hand calls)

Types of Predator Calls
(hand calls)

For the beginner just getting into predator calling one of the biggest questions is what calls do I use. Well outside of the electronic calls where there is myriad amount of sounds out there for them these days. And for the beginner it’s an easy thing to use and get started calling, but for some it’s quite an expense and sometimes hard to justify. So hand calls are the answer. For me, I prefer hand calls, there easy to carry and I’m not so worried that they’ll be damaged and they always work, no dead batteries or broken switches etc. Things happen, I’m not knocking E-callers, I just prefer hand calls just like someone prefers a 22-250 vs. the .223 etc.

  So, I’m going to concentrate on hand calls here. Basically there are two types, the open-reed and the closed-reed. So which call is right for you? Well for beginners the closed reed is the easiest to learn and generally generic in sound, but very effective, especially in the early fall when the young and dumb are out and about.

 First the closed reeds. Closed reeds are a call with an enclosed metal reed inside the mouth piece of the call. Depending on the reed, some are loud long range or intermediate and some are real quiet high pitched used generally in squeakers for close range calling. The way to blow a closed reed is simply blow into it, at first a steady blow sounds like a New Years party horn. By breaking up and shortening the amount of air you blow through the call intermittently you create a cadence that imitates an animal in distress. It’ll sound similar to a baby wailing. The shorter  each wah wah the more realistic you’ll sound just for the fact a rabbit doesn’t have as much air in it’s lungs like us, if you go a little longer and raspy you’ll mimic a fawn. Cupping your hand over the barrel of the call and moving your hand you can vary the pitch, sounding muffled with your head being buried in the snow and louder more clear when you come up for air. It’s all about sounding like you’re a critter having the stuffing ripped out of you. The closed reed is probably the easiest calls to learn. You can find places on the web that have sounds you can listen to and all you do is practice till you sound somewhat like your hearing. It’s really that simple. The squeakers are basically a closed reed call that just squeak like those found in dog toys, and those work too. Squeakers are for close up work, say you have a coyote coming and he hangs up at say 200 yds or behind some brush.. All you do is just squeeze the squeaker a couple times and usually it’ll get that coyote to move and sometimes more than just move but come flying in. What kind of call to buy. My favorites are ones by EJ Sceery, or Circe made by Lohman I believe, there dependable and work well as do the ones by Johnny Stewart. There are many call makers out there commercially and custom call makers and most, but not all, get their reeds from the same manufacturer. I know this because I have taken many apart and all that I’ve found had the same name stamped on the metal reeds them self. Type of material used in making the call, like wood , arcrylics, rubber etc. is what helps each call have it’s distinguished sound and how the barrel channel is belled out.

 Now we have the open-reed calls  and on my list of calls my favorite. Open reed calls basically have an external reed you manipulate with your lips, teeth, tongue while you blow through the call. You can vary the pitch, the sound and even switch from distress to a howl without pulling the call from your mouth. On the open reeds the reed is held into place with things like cork, rubber or plastic and/or a heavy rubber band. The band is actually a castrating band you would use on calves or pigs and can find extra bands at farm supply stores and there relatively cheap by the  100. When you blow an open reed you basically bite or press with your lip down on the reed blowing at the same time. The closer to the barrel you bite the deeper and raspier it will sound, the closer to the end of the reed the higher the pitch. With these calls you can make animal distress sounds, puppy whines, howls, barks, kiyi’s (sounds like a dog that got hit by a car) and even squeaks. It takes more practice to learn these calls but it doesn’t take long. It does take more air to blow these calls especially when making howls. A simple howl on this type of call is you basically get a good lung full of air and put slight pressure on the reed close to the barrel with your lips or teeth and blow hard and once you start you basically slide the call slowly out of your mouth while keeping pressure on the reed to make a high pitched end to the howl. The faster you pull the call out the shorter the howl. With a little practice on an open reed you’ll be able to do a wide range of sounds with just one call, thus making the open reed a more versatile call. Some of my favorite open reed calls are Thompson’s Red Desert howler mouthpiece, the Tally=Ho, Critter Call and Johnny Stewart open reed call. One of the little tips on using either the open reed or closed reed is practice, practice, practice. Once you got it down and using it in the field the other tid-bit is once you have a coyote coming in good, stop calling. That way you don’t give away your position. If the coyote stops out of range, just make a few more sounds that you got him to come in on, but make it short, you just want his attention to get him moving toward you again. If he’s coming in and he’s close enough to shoot, you want to make sure he is stopped before you shoot. You don’t want to get this far and miss. If he isn’t stopped and you want to shoot, just bark at him in your own voice, it’ll make him stop long enough to get a shot off. Hopefully this will help you decide which calls you want to try and give you an idea on how there used. Below is a pic of the two types of calls.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meet Harry

Harry was a hairy critter. He was the terror of his territory. Skilled at ambush and murder, thriving on the screams of his unsuspecting victims. I ran into Harry one morning while doing a calling stand. Harry was one of those seasoned killers that liked sneaking in the back door. And this time was no different, after a series of mournful cries and hideous screams I felt the cold presence of a veteran killer behind me. I slowly turned looking with my eyes before my head followed. Out of the corner of my eye I seen the fleeting glimpse of a bushy killer stealthily slipping away to the comfort of his domain.
    Feeling defeated I started to wonder what it would take to hood wink this apparently sharp killer into making a fatal mistake and put his hide on a stretcher.Now he'll be even more cautious to the seemingly soothing death cries he has come to drool over.He was now a cynic.
  I waited about a week before I went back with my well plotted assassination. I had in my back pocket a fellow caller we'll call Mike to protect the innocent. Mike was a skilled assassin as myself but was more of a long range pistoleer toting his 22-250 Savage Striker bolt. On this cold afternoon with the sun setting over the vast western snow covered field of this property, I positioned  myself where ole Harry got the drop on me. My assistant assailant I positioned 100 yds towards downwind where I figured Harry was resting before his night time murderous escapades.
  Once we were in our tactical positions, I went into blatant intruder mode blowing on the open reed howler, howling and barking like I owned the place.This in turned awakened Harry from his dreams of bloody bunnies dancing in the clover. In an instant Harry was up and running in full homicidal battle mode. He was not about to put up with some seemingly young pup enjoying himself in his domain, and he was going to make that perfectly clear in a well planned action of attack that would send the hapless intruder to the land of shame. Harry stealthily exercised his mode of attack, going for the back door that has been his ally so many times in the past. This time his ally turned adversary, on his approach to the back door he discovered a gate keeper standing in the door way with the key to the other side. At 257 yds Harry hesitated trying to access what lie in his way and on the otherside, but it must of been too much for him to digest. For Harry choked on a 40 grain pill that got caught in his windpipe delivered by the good doctor Mike from his 22-250 pill dispenser. Thus Harry's murderous ways came to an end on that cold fateful day in January. You could almost hear the snowfall as the quiet and stillness of the moment  fell across the land.
  As we gazed upon his amazing carcass, his fur was that you would only see adorning the collars of the most fortunate of ladies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to skin a coyote

The following  is a step by step instructional pictorial on the proper skinning procedure for skinning coyotes, it is graphic in nature if you are not accustomed to things of this nature . It is also the way that you are to skin bobcat, coon,skunk, mink, muskrat, fox, otter, fisher for the fur market. The skinning technique is called case skinning.If your not skilled on proper fleshing and drying fur for sale, doing at least the skinning you can at least add some value to the pelt vs. trying to sell the animal whole. Every step you take in pelt handling from skinning to stretching and drying increases what you will get from a fur buyer. If you just want a pelt for yourself to get tanned you will have to at least skin the animal and salt it to send off to a tannery. So lets get started. Heres a short vid I made as well. I had 2 coyotes to skin, by the time I had the video angle figured so the second coyote would video tape better the batteries went dead ughhhhhh. So it's not the best but it'll have to do for now. I should have taken my cover alls off, it got hot,lol.

  First you want to wear nitrile or latex gloves to keep your hands clean and prevent the possibility of contracting any possible diseases, then take a comb or heavy brush like one used for grooming a dog and comb or brush out any burrs or mats in the fur,it'll help your pelt look nicer when presented to a fur buyer. It's best if you skin the animal as soon as possible to prevent hair slippage or spoiling of the hide which will render the pelt worthless, skinning HOT will also aid in the ease of skinning. Once you have the pelt brushed out take and wipe any blood off the fur, if there is alot of blood it doesn't hurt to wash off with a hose, if you use a hose the hide obviously will be wet, so it's best and easier that after washing to hang the animal by a front foot with a fan blowing on the animal overnite to dry it off before skinning. A leaf blower would help speed up the drying as well. The reason to hang by a front foot allows the water to run off in the natural direction of the fur using gravity as an aid in the drying as well. 

Now with the animal brushed and washed(if necessary) we now can proceed to start skinning. First take and tie a rope around one back foot or secure one back foot in a bench vise. I find that a rope from a garage rafter works well. Now take a sharp knife and make a cut from one back foot straight across to the other back foot. It's best if you run the blade just under the hide with the cutting edge up.
Now that the first cut is made, take and make 2 more cuts from the base of the underside of the tail just above the anus and make the cut to the initial cut so that it looks like the pic below. Once  those 2 cuts are made you can peel the hide from the carcass using your fingers, you may have to cut the hide free from the carcass at times, especially if the animal is cold.
 Once you have the hide peeled from the back legs and the hide cut free from just above the back paws your pelt will look like this.
 Now you can hang the animal by both back feet with rope from a garage rafter etc. to aid in skinning, make sure the rafter or whatever your hanging the animal on is solid, there will be a lot of hard pulling going on shortly.Once the animal is hanging with the hide off the legs, you'll need to skin the tail. First take and cut up the underside at the base just a little to get it started and pull a little on the hide. You'll see the pelt peeling away from the bone, you may have to cut around the tail a little while you pull to separate membrane from the tail bone and hide. You only do this with a knife for an inch or so. Then you can use a tail puller or a piece of steel with a deep V notch cut into it or simply wrap your middle finger around the tail bone like in the pic and pull towards the end of the tail while pushing with the other hand against the body at the base of the tail. It may come hard at first, but once you get it going it'll slide off pretty good. Don't fret if you accidentally pull the tail off your first try, it happens and you wont get docked to much in price, maybe a buck, but it's nothing serious.
 Once the tail bone is stripped out it will look like this.
 Before we proceed further, you can now take an old sock if you like and pull it over the head like the pic below, it will help keep blood that may run out of the nose or mouth from getting on the fur while pulling the hide off. Next you can cut the legs off at the elbow joint if you wish with a pair of big pruning shears, they work pretty good for this. the fur buyers don't want the feet on the pelt, they are not used in the fur industry. For hats and stuff that are more novelty items the feet can be left on, but will have to be skinned as well, but you can leave that up to a taxidermist if you like if you want a hat made. I don't have pics on skinning feet but will do down the road and add it to this blog.
 Now for the next step, is to pull or peel the hide off. What you do is grab the pelt on both sides of the tail where the thigh was, the hide is tough here, it also helps if you have an old towel or rag between your hands and the leather side of the hide, it gives you a good grip for pulling. Now once you have a good grip, you can pull the hide down, this will take some elbow grease but if the animal is warm it'll be easier. Once you start pulling you may notice some membrane not separating between the hide and the carcass, just simply cut it free and you'll be good to go.Now continue pulling the hide down until you reach the shoulders like so in the pic below.
 Once at the shoulders there's a little pit on the under side of the leg/shoulder. I've found if you take your steel or even just a heavy dowel with a point on one end you can shove it through this spot.
 Once the steel or dowel is punched through, pull the steel in downward, this will skin the upper leg and shoulder for you.
 If you cut the front legs off the remainder will pull right through as in the pic below. If you didn't cut the legs off, just simply take your knife and cut around the leg, basically ringing it and you'll separate the hide from the leg and be able to pull the leg out.
 Now once the front legs are free you can take and wrap your towel or rag around the whole pelt that is hanging there. And the grab it and pull the hide until you see 2 bumps on the head appear. Those are the ears.
 Now take a sharp knife and cut right into those bumps right to the skull, first one side.
 Then the other until the ears are separated and continue running the knife around the skull cutting as your pulling the hide until you see 2 more small bumps where the eyes would be.
 With your knife cut close to the bone at the eyes until the hide is free while pulling and keep cutting and running your knife around the head separating the hide from the skull.
 Once you've gotten to the mouth, you can cut through the bottom lip if you wish, there not needed on the pelt when selling for the fur.Once the bottom lip is cut free continue to run the knife around the muzzle cutting while pulling until you reach the nose.Then a simple cut through the nose will separate the pelt from the carcass and your done. At this time if the pelt is warm hang it on a nail until it cools.
 Once the pelt is cool, you can turn the hide right side out or the fur out, just like turning a sock inside out or right side out. Your finished job will look like this.
Now that the pelt is cool you'll either need to flesh it or freeze it. For now we'll freeze it, you simply take and fold the pelt in half and put inside a plastic bag and freeze, but make sure your pelt is completely cool before putting in the bag or the fur and the bag combined can hold body heat for quite awhile and risk spoilage. I also dont recommend salting the hide before freezing, because salt will prevent it from freezing completely and if some spot are not thoroughly salted the hide could spoil in spots and ruin your hard earned pelt.

  I hope this explains well enough that you can skin your first coyote with very little difficulty and get you going in the direction of being a proficient skinner.