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Hunter

Hunter’s Corner: Setting your sights on coyotes

The introduction of wolf DNA into the eastern coyote population has made the eastern coyote oftentimes twice the size of its western cousin. (AP File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The introduction of wolf DNA into the eastern coyote population has made the eastern coyote oftentimes twice the size of its western cousin. (AP File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Coyote hunting in New Hampshire is somewhat unique in that there is an open season 12 months a year. During January, February and March, night is permissible. Landowner permission is required to hunt at night.

The use of calls, lures and scents are an integral part of coyote hunting, especially during daytime hunting. Three of the more popular calibers for hunting coyotes are the 17 Remington muzzle velocity 4,000 fps with a 20-grain bullet, 204 Ruger muzzle velocity 4,225 fps with a 32-grain bullet and the 223 Remington 3,800 fps with a 40-grain bullet. The local rifle restrictions for deer hunting do not apply for coyote hunting. The .22 rimfire LR Hyper velocity with a 30-grain bullet archives a muzzle velocity of 1,750 fps. So if all you have is a .22 long rifle, unless you are going to do a lot of coyote hunting, you can get by with the .22. The only additional challenge is that you are going to intensify your calling skills to get them closer in range.

If you have ever seen pictures of western coyotes and the eastern coyote, you have to scratch you head just a little and ask what happened? What happened was the introduction of wolf DNA into our coyote population. Where the eastern coyote can hit the scales at 75 pounds, its western cousin is lucky to hit 30 pounds. The eastern coyote is a very intelligent predator and, as such, poses a challenge to the hunter.

Another type of hunting that is great exercise and will scope out your deer hunting area is shed hunting. All of the runways are in use and you will have the bonus of potentially locating shed antlers. I have one half of a 10-pointer that a friend found last year; it makes for an interesting paperweight. Another bonus is that by tracking the deer, you will find their bedding areas. Once the bedding areas are located, come next fall, it will be easy to plot their travel routes between food, water and bedding areas. The bedding areas won’t change, but the food sources will. The biggest question mark on next year’s deer season will be the extent of hard mast such as acorns and beechnuts.

Derby time

Last year was the first year for the new format for the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby. All told, there are more than $50,000 in cash prizes to be awarded this February. The first prize is $15,000, second is $5,000 and third is $3,000. There are seven eligible species: black crappie with a minimum length greater than 13 inches, pickerel, cusk, yellow perch, lake trout, white perch and rainbow trout. There are daily prizes for the largest fish in each species. The top fish in each species for each of the two days goes into a drawing for first, second and third prizes. If an angler wins two days in a row, he gets one shot at the top prizes. This means the worst odds at winning a top prize is one in 14 for daily winners. If there are any duplicate winners, the odds get better for those who have fish on the board.

The change in derby format means the fishing pressure get spread around to lakes and ponds and not concentrated on Winnipesaukee, which is New Hampshire’s ultimate cold and warm water fishery. The derby will be held Feb. 8-9. For advanced ticket sales, go to meredithrotary.org or call 279-7600.

In past derbies, Robb and I have fished in five lakes that contained tagged rainbow trout with limited success. Please note that bass (large and small mouth), brown trout and salmon are not eligible species. If you happen to catch a salmon, do not bring it up on the ice, simply cut the hook and let it swim away. The hook will ultimately dissolve and the salmon will live for another day.

If you are looking for an edge ice fishing and later on in the regular spring season, check out Mack’s Lure Sonic Baitfish at mackslure.com. These lures are designed to be jigged with weights as small as 1/10 of an ounce. They also look like they would be good for early spring stream fishing. Another site to check out is Stubby Steve’s fish food pellets at stubbysteve.com. The pellets are a combination of scent, taste and texture. After fishing for a while with one of the pellets, simply cut off the ends of the pellets and it is like fishing with a brand new pellet.

There is a secret for enjoying ice fishing and it is dressing properly. The biggest enemy confronting ice fishermen is the wind. The advances in portable pop-up bob houses has added to the fun of ice fishing, especially if you have young ones fishing. These pop-ups provide for perfect shelter from the elements and easily make what might be a miserable experience into an enjoyable one. Mine is a 4 Pack that easily accommodates four adults. Normally there are three of us, affording us plenty of elbow room. If you are looking for a fun weekend, give the Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby a shot.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)

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