Coyote Hunting in Utah. What you need to know.

Coyote hunting seems to be a controversial topic. My own dad won’t go with me coyote hunting because he doesn’t like it. He understands why I do it and sees the benefits of hunting coyotes, but he just can’t do the shooting something that looks like a dog. To me, coyote hunting is what started me into hunting. Growing up in Nevada I used to see them all the time playing in the desert and camping. As I got older, I got introduced to it by one of my bosses. We even had a coyote we used to see everyday driving to a job site and we had named him. We’d watch him in this pasture looking for mice and just wandering around. Whenever we were out driving in ranches in the middle of Nevada or going through public land, which Nevada has lots of, if we saw a coyote it was going down. I got introduced to coyote hunting just before I started duck hunting. I think that’s why those are my favorite animals to hunt.

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I’m sure anyone can do a quick Google search and see that many people out there want coyote hunting to be banned. As far as I’m concerned they have a right to their own opinion. I choose to coyote hunt for a few simple reasons. The first and main reason is the challenge of the hunt. They are smart animals and the name “Willey” is very fitting if you’ve ever tried to hunt or trap a coyote. Trying to hunt them just adds to the excitement for me. It’s not uncommon for me to not be able to sleep when I know I’m going coyote hunting. The other more serious reason is the damage that coyotes can do. Coyotes are predators, they usually only become prey to other predators and that’s rare. The real damage that they do is when it comes to cattle and to deer and elk populations. Cattle and deer seem to be at the top though. There are many reports on their damage but ask any rancher and they’ll tell you that calving season is the worst when it comes to coyotes. With little predation, coyotes can gang up on a cow or a doe as she’s giving birth. Yes, when she’s in labor. They’ll follow her and when she goes into labor they attack. Not only do they attack the mother but also the new calve or fawn. I thought about posting a video or a picture but I’ll let your Google search handle that if you want. So even though they are fun to watch and seem to be harmless, they can do some serious harm. In the sources, you can see the results of the studies done here in Utah.

Now that you know why we hunt coyotes, let’s go over the rules to hunt here in Utah since that’s what the title referred to anyways. First of all, here’s a quick link to the DWR website that has all of this in it. You can surf all you want and you’ll find all of these things on there. I’m just trying to relay information here. If you plan on coming to Utah just to hunt coyotes, all you need is a pulse and a gun. Meaning, you don’t need a hunting license. I still recommend if you plan on hunting anything, get your hunters education and be safe when shooting. We don’t need anyone shooting their rifles over a ridgeline and killing someone miles away. That being said if all you want is to hunt, keep reading for more information on finding out where to go.

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The next thing you should know about is the state bounty program on coyotes. Recently I was on Instagram and ran into a discussion on how the bounty program is why most people go out there hunting coyotes. If that’s the case, it explains why there is always so much hunting pressure on coyotes in Utah. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, you just need to get smarter. Anyways, if you choose to take advantage of the bounty program here’s what you have to do. Recently, the state changed the rules so every hunter that wants to get the bounty for their coyote has to follow this program. First, you need to take the Identification and Registration course every year. It doesn’t take long and it’s mostly so you don’t shoot a wolf. The rumor is that they say there are no wolves in Utah but there are. Here’s an article from the DWR talking about it. It’s the latest one I could find. I’ll have it in my sources below too.

Once you’ve taken the class and learned about what the DWR prefers when it comes to when and where to hunt (we’ll go over it here too) and then gotten all the t’s crossed and I’s dotted, you can move on to actually getting paid for each coyote you kill. Be aware, if you watch coyote hunting shows and you think that every stand will bring in 4 coyotes, that’s not the case. One coyote is the average and two coyotes are between great and amazing depending on the time of year. Once you’ve shot your coyote, you’ll want to get some information for your form. You need a location, having some GPS devices along is almost a necessity for this. Then you just report the sex of the animal, how you got it (so hunt or trap), and then you need to make sure you label your coyote. One thing to note: The DWR is coming out with an app to handle a lot of this, it’s already overdue but they say that by July 1st, 2019, you can only report your coyote through the app. Don’t ask me how they are going to deal with the no reception issue. The next thing that you want is the sample for the DWR.

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There are different ways of getting and storing the sample. The state wants 2/3 of the lower jaw and both ears attached. To clarify, you can have the jaw in one hand and two ears attached in the other hand. What I’ve done in the past is just kept the ears together and then removed the jaw all in one piece. That way I don’t confuse my self. What I’m going to start doing is pelting out the coyote and then I just need to keep the lower jaw with it so it can be processed. The other option which is probably the easiest but I’ve never done, is to remove the whole head. If you do that, make sure that you place something in the coyote’s mouth to keep the jaw from freezing locked up. That’ll make it so you can’t get your bounty. If you choose to do the ears and jaw method, there’s a simple way of storing it. What I do is I carry multiple paper bags in my backpack. Just wrap the ears and jaw in the paper bag and label it with the number you used on your form. Then put that in a grocery or large Ziploc bag and you’re good to go. Go home and put it in the freezer until you can get it checked in. Check-in locations can be found on their website and some are open year-round during business hours and others are at certain events and dates.

Now here’s the great location topic. I’m not giving away any secrets here. Mostly because I have none. There’s no prime spot to hunting coyotes. What I can say is that coyotes take some dedication and some scouting. Knowing what they’re after at what time of year also ups your chances. The DWR does cut us some corners. If you know, and if you’ve been reading this article you know, that coyotes like to chase deer.  Going to some of the DWR identified Deer Management Areas might pay off. The DWR prefers that we hunt them during the winter before the deer fawn. The reason is to cut down on coyote litters and to prevent them from killing fawn when the deer fawn. The map gives a ton of areas to hunt. The way I’ve used it is by tracking the deer herds. I’ve shot plenty of coyotes by just watching a deer herd and waiting for the coyotes following them. I’ve even seen them just hanging out by the deer in the summer and none are bugged about it.

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Coyote hunting is one of my favorite things to do when I go out. Even if I just go out and call just to see if I get a reaction back. It was what got me started in hunting and I’ll probably do it as long as I can still go out. Kaela has really seemed to enjoy hunting coyotes too. I’m yet to have a successful stand with her but then again, living in the city has made scouting a lot more time-consuming. I’m sure one of these days we’ll get on one together and she’ll drop it. I’m hoping to get a different caliber gun this summer if finances allow and start harvesting the pelt instead of doing just the bounty. I’m sure we’ll keep everyone posted on how that goes. Hopefully, these tips will help you if you’re planning on just getting into coyote hunting in Utah or if you are coming through the area and want to give it a shot. Don’t hesitate to email us and we’ll try and help out the best we can.

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Sources:

https://wildlife.utah.gov/predators-mule-deer.html

https://wildlife.utah.gov/pdf/fact_sheets/wolves.pdf

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