By Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer

The coyote population continues to explode in Middle Tennessee, and expert predator hunter Marc Larese says now is the perfect time to reduce the pack.

“This is the most effective time of the year to hunt coyotes,” says Larese, a representative of FoxPro Game Calls and CamoBoy hunting clothing.

“There are a lot of young coyotes who haven’t been hunted, and the older coyotes are very protective and territorial. When they hear a call in their area, they respond to it.”

Submitted photo
Marc Larese bagged these coyotes on a recent hunt.

The summer pelts of coyotes are scruffy and of no commercial value, unlike the prime pelts harvested during last winter’s predator hunt hosted by Larese and the Wilson County Coon Hunters club. The coyotes and bobcats killed during that hunt were collected by a furrier who processed the pelts.

But Larese points out that the main purpose of hunting coyotes is to reduce the population of the nuisance animals. That’s why the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency allows coyote hunting year-round, with no limit.

“Anyone who enjoys deer hunting or watching deer and other wildlife should be in favor of reducing the coyote population,” Larese says. “This time of year, coyotes wreak havoc on fawns.”

Larese says earlier this summer a friend installed a trail camera near a coyote den to observe their actions.

“In just one month the coyotes in that single den killed nine fawns,” he says. “And that’s just the fawns they brought back to den. No telling how many more were eaten where they were killed.”

One wildlife study found that coyotes killed approximately 50 percent of fawns in some areas.

“They don’t prey only on fawns, but also on other wildlife,” Larese says. “In addition to wildlife, they will kill cats and small dogs if they get the opportunity. They are the ultimate predator, and they’ll prey on whatever they can catch.”

How dense is the coyote population in this area? Larese says he recently killed five coyotes on three short hunts on a Smith County farm.

“On one hunt I called in three coyotes, shot one, and the other two ran off,” he says. “That gives you some idea of how many there are – I killed one out of three. You’ll never get rid of them by hunting; all you can do is try to control the population. And even that’s hard, because the size of coyote litters fluctuates, based on population. In an area where the population is reduced, the size of next year’s litters increases.”

Larese adds with a chuckle:

“It’s nature’s way of making sure we always have plenty of coyotes.”

Since migrating into the Southeast from the West and Southwest some three decades ago, coyotes have become common sights, even in urban areas. They are at home in suburbs where they cannot be hunted, and where leg-hold traps are generally banned. A cunning coyote is almost impossible to catch in a live-trap.

Residents are advised not to leave pet food or garbage outdoors because it will attract any coyotes in the area. Once they eat the garbage, the family pet may be next on the menu.

With the increase in coyotes, predator hunting has grown in popularity, including competitive hunts such as the one conducted by Larese last year. He plans to hold another hunt this winter.

“Hunting is the only way to control coyotes,” he says. “If they aren’t controlled they’ll impact every other wildlife species.”