"Of all the animals I trap, coyotes are by far my favorite. The picture above is of a straggly-coated Southern Mississippi coyote." - Doug McKenzie

Are the deer on your property becoming elusive and more difficult to hunt? Are deer sightings down? If so, then maybe you are facing an obstacle that if not controlled – will in time frustrate your hunting opportunities …. The American coyote!

You’ve planted food plots, managed the timber, and established proper harvest quotas. The land is ripe for whitetail habitat; and yet deer sightings are minimal. You still find deer sign, but something just isn’t right. There should simply be more deer. You may have even provided native forage in combination with supplemental food sources, and still the whitetails are not being seen, especially females with newborn fawns.

Even though you are still seeing deer sign, you are also finding lots of coyote sign. Perhaps you are hearing the coyotes howl around sunset. You are doing everything to manage the deer herd, but are you managing the coyote population?

For so long it was believed that coyotes had very little impact on white-tailed deer populations. Yet now, biologists in certain areas of the country are seriously reevaluating coyotes and their impact on white-tailed deer. There is controversy amongst biologists as to how much influence coyotes have on fawn mortalities; yet an increase in coyote sightings nationwide is prompting new research on the subject.

Studies have proven that coyotes, when present, are responsible for more fawn mortalities than any other predator. For example, overpopulated coyotes in south Texas have a significant impact on white-tailed deer fawns. Unmanaged coyotes forming high densities can jeopardize fawn recruitment. Combine this loss with drought, hunter harvest, other environmental conditions, and sportsmen can have limited hunting opportunities for a couple of seasons.

Though it is rare for coyotes to kill adult deer, with the exception of a sick or injured animal, these canines are quite effective in locating newborn fawns. For coyotes that have previously preyed upon newborns, they are quick to learn the season and traditional fawn birthing grounds as well.

Hunting by sight, smell, and hearing, the coyote’s carnivorous instincts in time become enhanced – increasing the odds of fawn predation. Fawns born in agricultural fields are highly vulnerable. If fawns are malnourished or the parenting doe stays gone from its side for too long, fawns are more inclined to “bleat”; then the ole coyote through hearing capabilities can quickly pinpoint the fawn.

Coyotes pose a threat for fawn recruitment and to all whitetails in general. The presence of coyotes alone can reduce the overall visibility of whitetail deer, which in turn can affect scouting and hunting opportunities for sportsmen. Some coyotes tend to waste time and energy chasing adult deer – particularly during the nighttime and pre-dawn hours. It is a merry-go-round of chasing. Whitetails are in and out of cultivated fields – utilizing whatever available cover they have such as high grasses and thick underbrush.

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