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It’s all about the Numbers

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It’s all about the Numbers

Postby Coyotehunter » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:54 am

It’s all about the Numbers

Counting Coyotes: Quantity of Coyotes or Quality of the Hunt?

Most hunters would agree that success comes slow and can be, at first, frustrating. I have always thought it odd that most video or TV shows on hunting will depict someone standing over a dead animal saying, "It doesn't get any better than this," or "This is what it's all about." It seems to reinforce the idea that the end justifies the means. Any success I have had in the field can be contributed to scouting, patterning, and hunting accordingly. Anytime two hunters meet, hunting stories begin to loom large--not unlike fishing stories. Increasingly, though, it is getting difficult to separate genuine hunters from "hunter wannabe's”. Sometimes, hearing a whopper is truly impressive, but other times, hearing one is downright frustrating.
Last fall while out hunting, one of these "coyote hunters" wanted to show me the coyotes and fox he had in the back of his truck. We talked for a while about coyote hunting and then about the equipment he was using. He said he had shot 97 coyotes between the first week of September and Thanksgiving. At first, I thought it was possible if he was trapping and snaring along with the calling but when he said that he had a full time job and it wasn’t predator control and didn’t know how to trap or snare. Well I thought possible but not likely. When I returned to my motel room, I told the story to my brother and we did the math. If you hunt three days per week for eleven weeks, average ten stands per day, call in one coyote for every three stands, and manage to kill 90% of the coyotes you bring in, you'll be up to the 100 mark by Thanksgiving easily. Maybe it's not impossible if you have good weather and a high population of coyotes on your side. But hunting east of the Missouri in North Dakota it's still highly unlikely. When I told this story to a rancher whose land I have been hunting for years, he told me that he caught the same man several times running his pasture in a pick-up and has been causing problems with some other ranchers. Obviously, this "coyote hunter" is more concerned about putting up numbers than having a good hunt. Getting the most by driving around pastures, calling from the truck, and hoping to get a coyote on the run is not in my opinion coyote hunting. An easy way to rack up the numbers maybe, but not respectable.
I asked one old predator-hunter how many coyotes he had shot during the past winter. He said he would not be lying if he told me five. His answer puzzled me because I knew he did a fair amount of coyote hunting with snares, traps, decoy dogs, and just plain calling. I pressed him to tell me the truth. He smiled and said it was closer to 80, which makes more sense considering he earns his way impart to predator control for sheep ranchers. He explained that usually when he tells people what he gets, they either don't believe him or else they killed more by Christmas than he had seen all year. Though, naturally, there is always someone with a bigger and better story.
"How many?" may be the most popular question hunters and trappers ask one another, but it wouldn't hurt to ask, "Where were you hunting?" and "How often did you get out?" and "What were you using?" If you don't work winters and are living in a place like Southern Arizona, an area with a high density of coyotes, you will undoubtedly have more opportunities to put up fur than someone who works winters and who lives in a large metropolitan area. Who is the better or more successful hunter--the first one, who may get fifty coyote, or the latter one, who may get fifteen? It's a hard question to answer, but it seems quantity often overshadows the quality of the hunt.
For me, success has always been in the details. If you judge hunters' ability based on the number of animals shot, then we should all gas up a truck, grab the business band radio, get some dogs and four-wheelers and run the coyotes to death. Then crack a beer, pound our chests, and call ourselves predator-hunters. Hunters often see tracks from snowmobiles, four-wheelers, and pick-ups in pastures and fields around rock piles and cattail sloughs. Later, they hear "coyote hunters" brag about all the critters they shot. The true coyote hunters, though, spent all day calling only to smoke one coyote they walked a mile off the road for, with snow up to their knees, and to call with in 75 yards without the song dog knowing what hit him.
With coyote hunting these days there are getting to be too many "coyote hunters" sitting in pick-ups with speakers out their windows. It makes me angry, but when I hear what seems like another far-fetched tale, I still try to listen and be polite. If you have been hunting long enough, you are bound to have a breakout day or a season that goes perfectly. A friend and I once even called in ten coyotes by noon one Sunday in late February. It turned out to be a great day for hunting coyotes with a slight Northwest breeze and an overcast sky in western North Dakota. And it was a bit unusual, especially that late in the season--but everything just clicked. Telling a whopper is something hunters and anglers alike enjoy telling, especially if it's true. But trying to pass off using a pick-up to kill a lot of coyotes as hunting is less than admirable, it's wrong.

There are no short cuts to becoming an ethical and efficient predator hunter. The reward and satisfaction for hunting is not in the numbers, but in the hunt itself. Be proud of each hunt and all that goes into it.

Jamie P Olson

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Re: It’s all about the Numbers

Postby Tim Anderson » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:37 pm

Good read. I've never been much for numbers, more about the hunt it self and just being out after them whether it be calling, running with the dogs or hunting with a group... I get a big kick out of the guys that happen to live in a coyote rich area and mistake there numbers as being skill or good at calling and then ask them how do they deal with some of the older more conditioned coyotes.. Most will say they toss out a few other sounds and then just move on to easier game...LOL

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Re: It’s all about the Numbers

Postby Jonnyboy » Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:27 pm

Some of my best hunting stories consist of things I see while hunting, not nessesarily the end result. Like watching a red tailed hawk land on a stump not 5 yards from me and wait for prey (watched it snag a chipmunk). Finding cool stuff like antlers and nice spots to set up for hunting... heck just being outdoors. Thats not to say finally getting your target isnt awesome, but definately not the end all be all of hunting in my opinion.


Re: It’s all about the Numbers

Postby Double Naught Spy » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:44 am

Interesting and well thought post, though my opinion varies quite a bit.

Who is or is not a hunter is often a matter of pride and it seems to come down to a position of what a given person thinks is the right way to do things and what is appropriate. I liked this statement that sums this up, nicely,

For me, success has always been in the details.

Success can be very individualistic as can be what constitutes a good hunt. Those details vary by hunter. For some folks, it is all about the hunt. For others, it is all about the kill. For some, it is the brag. People take the rewards that please them.

I have spot and stalked on foot, driven spot and stalked, stand hunted, opportunistic hunted, hunted over bait, hunted over a trail, hunted over a grain field, used game cameras for scouting, used thermal/night vision, used semi-auto rifles, etc. etc. etc. Just about every thing I have done over the years has been poo-poo'd by somebody as not being "hunting" because it did not fit their definition of what hunting should be.

Of course, I have my own ideas about what constitutes ethical or proper hunting, but it is fairly wide ranging and more inclusive than exclusive. Primarily, if you are breaking the law (inclusive of trespassing) to kill animals, then it is poaching, not hunting (though some would argue that poaching is just a form of 'illegal hunting,' a notion that has validity).

The neat thing about hunting is that we all take away something different from it that we can enjoy and that there are countless facets to hunting for us to enjoy.

As for the stories hunters tell, part of the reason I do keep records on various numbers (weights, sex, distances, damage, etc.) is because I am in more competition with myself than with other hunters and if I don't keep records, I will start believing my own stories, LOL. I learned a long time ago that I cannot match stories. Some people are just better stories tellers and prone to making things exciting. I was hunting on a buddy's place and he was with me that night and I got a nice boar that was a bit over 200 lbs. I heard him recount the stories three different times. By the third time, it was colder out, the shot placement was better, the boar ran further, and was up to over 250 lbs....and it was MY kill! Hearing my hunt got more exciting every time it was told! I think that for some, the best part of the hunt is what happens over beers.

Like Jonnyboy, some of my best hunting stories are not about what I killed. I enjoy watching nature. However, one thing is certain, I would not be spending all that time watching nature if I was not out with a goal in mind of taking hogs or predators.

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