G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Writer
Thursday marks the first day of spring.
The last week of March brings a delicious anticipation and excitement for people who enjoy the great outdoors.
But there can also be a sense of near panic as they wonder how they’ll work in time for all their favorite activities and locations and still find time to work for a living.
Upcoming events vying for his or her attention include wild turkey hunting and fishing for crappie, bass and walleye.
Not to mention photography, bird watching, hiking and camping.
There’s trips for smallmouth and largemouth to be considered to Dale Hollow Lake, Lake Cumberland and Lake St. Claire, as well as Rondeau Bay and Long Point in Canada; crappie on area lakes and ponds; and walleye on Lake Erie.
How are we going to get it all done?
Let’s hope we don’t forget that in both Ohio and Kentucky new hunting and fishing licenses were required as of March 1.
WATCH YOUR GUNS
I had a letter this week from a friend who worried that his favorite gun might be getting a bit lazy.
“Today I opened my front door wide open and set my Winchester Model 94 right in the doorway,” he wrote. “I placed six cartridges beside it and, noticing that the gun had no legs, set it on my mom’s old wheelchair to help it get around.
“I then left it alone and went about my business.
“While I was gone, the mailman delivered my mail, the neighbor boy across the street mowed the yard, a girl walked her dog down the street, and quite a few cars stopped at the stop sign right in front of our house.
“After a couple of hours, I checked on the gun. It was still setting there in the wheelchair, right where I had left it. It hadn’t rolled itself outside. It certainly hadn’t killed anyone, even with the numerous opportunities it had been presented to do so. In fact, it hadn’t even loaded itself.
“Well, you can imagine my surprise, what with all the media hype about how dangerous guns are and how they kill people.
“Either the media is wrong, and it’s the misuse of guns by PEOPLE that kill people, or I’m in possession of the laziest gun in the world.
“Alright, well I’m off to check on my spoons. I hear they’re making people fat.”
My fishing friend, Creighton Stephens, is busy organizing a “Second Amendment Rights Rally” for the first week of May, probably to be held at Armco Park outside Ashland.
We’ll keep you posted on the date and time of the rally as soon as its finalized.
All of nature’s wildlife creatures have a desire to live as long as possible, and I don’t fault the coyote for that.
But wildlife officials tells us coyote numbers are on the increase in northeastern Kentucky and southeastern Ohio, and it’s important that there be some method to keep the population in check, else the balance of nature gets out of whack.
Coyotes mate in February and dig a den under a tree, stump or rock. About 60 days later, four to six fully furred but blind pups are born.
Both parents share in the responsibility of raising the young. Weaning begins at three weeks. At 10 weeks they begin to learn to hunt. They leave the parents as capable young adults in the autumn (about seven to eight months of age).
They may live in captivity for about 18 years, but usually live only about eight years in the wild.
Coyotes have only two natural enemies. One is disease, and very rarely is a coyote in the wild found with any kind of disease.
The other is man.
There is no closed season and no bag limits on the coyote in either Kentucky or Ohio. They can be hunted year round.
Livestock farmers say coyotes have been known to kill new-born calves.
A successful coyote hunter is George Brint, a retired farm bureau agent down around Kentucky Lake, near the Kentucky-Tennessee line. I heard him speak on the subject a few years ago at an outdoor writers’ meeting at Buchanan Resort.
According to my stale notes, Brint said coyote hunting differed from hunting other large and small game animals because all of the other species had natural predators to be wary of. The coyote is at the top of the food chain, and has only one predator to be concerned with, that being man.
“To lure them in, you use social calls of their own species or distress calls of animals they eat. That is why they pose such a unique and interesting challenge,” Brint said.
LEAN AND MEAN
Coyotes are about the size of a German shepherd dog but are slimmer boned and have half the weight. An average coyote weighs about 31 pounds, although a few reach weights of near 45 pounds.
A pair of adult coyotes with young may have a territory with a diameter of about 30 miles.
Coyotes can survive in urban areas as long as there is food and shelter available. They use ravines and other natural corridors to travel between developed areas.
In such urban areas, they eat garbage, domestic pets such as cats and small dogs, as well as other animals who can adapt to human habitats: raccoons, ‘possums and ducks.
In wild areas, most of their diet is made up of mice, squirrels, rabbits, and grouse and wild turkey. They’ll also eat carrion, insects, and fruit they find.
When in large groups, they may occasionally work together to attempt to catch large prey, such as deer or livestock.
Usually coyotes hunt alone or in pairs. One coyote may distract and chase small prey right into the waiting jaws of another coyote. They will take turns chasing and catching the prey.
OHIO MANAGEMENT PLANS
The Division of Wildlife does not manage for the establishment or expansion of coyotes in Ohio. Division personnel assist farmers and other landowners in identifying and controlling nuisance coyotes.
Division staff also work to inform and educate the public about the coyote and its presence in the state. Research is ongoing on resident coyote populations. Biologists are studying the animals’ behavior.
G. Sam Piatt can be reached at 606-932-3619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.