Yip, yips and howls from coyotes are fascinating and errie sounds. Once rarely heard in much of the Midwest, now the somewhat mournful sounds are common in every U. S. state. They frequently are heard at the edge of towns.
Many people believe that as deer populations have rebounded over the past half century, the coyote numbers have followed them.
Distinctive in appearance, coyotes have pointed noses, pointed ears that always stand erect, and fluffy tails, typically held low. Males can weigh up to 50 pounds, but most coyotes are smaller. In the eastern US, coyotes are typically darker in color, with tan, brown and black fur.
Coyotes spread their range eastward from the Plains and Mountain West, filling the ecological niche of the gray wolf and red wolf, native species that no longer exist here. Researchers believe the migration of coyotes into the southeastern US began in the 1950s.
Indiana DNR furbearer biologist recently prepared a report of coyotes for the 2015 Hunting & Trapping regulations. An abridged version follows:
“Coyotes adjust to landscape, including urban areas...Personal experiences shape our attitudes toward most wildlife. This is especially true for coyotes.
Thoughts range from worthless varmint that should be removed completely to a beautiful creature deserving of protection.
One thing for sure – Indiana is coyote country. Coyotes are a native species once limited to the prairie regions of western Indiana. Reports of coyotes in Indiana began to increase in the 1970s.
They have adjusted to the landscape changes and now are common in all Indiana counties, including many urban areas. For some Hoosiers, this is old news. For others, the sight of a coyote is new and little is known about how to live with this species.
Certainly, I have spent considerable time listening to them at Yellow Bank Wildlife Management Area across from Derby and up river from Derby. I’ve heard them a lot and seen them rarely.
The DNR has a full list of tips to minimize conflicts with coyotes.
If coyotes can find water and shelter, they will find something to eat. Their natural diet includes berries, birds, vegetation, rabbits, deer fawns, and animal remains, but they mostly eat small mammals such as mice, moles, and voles. Reducing the local rodent populations is a benefit to landowners that is often forgotten when talking about coyotes.
Studies have found that coyotes in urban areas have the same general needs as coyotes in rural areas. Human-supplied food items such as household garbage and garden vegetables, as well as domestic animals and pet food, have become part of their diet.
When there is plenty of food, coyote populations expand quickly. Coyotes breed in January and February, and pups are born in a den during March or April. A litter can be as few as one pup or exceed 10, with the average around five.
Small, undisturbed green spaces are all that coyotes need for a den site. A typical den is made underground with a pie-pan-sized entrance that opens into a larger area.
Coyotes usually form breeding pairs and raise their pups together. Lone coyotes do occur, especially in the fall when younger animals leave to establish their own territory. Breeding pairs will establish a territory and defend this area from other coyotes. Occasionally, yearling coyotes will remain with the breeding pair and new pups. When this occurs, it’s called a “group” rather than a “pack.”
Coyote discussions often revolve around conflicts. In rural areas conflicts include loss of livestock and pets or reaction to a trail camera capturing a coyote hauling off a deer fawn. Urban conflicts are focused on attacks on pets, concerns for safety, and fear of the unknown.
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife manages trapping and hunting seasons for coyotes (Oct. 15 through March 15, 2015). The seasons are not meant to remove every animal, but they do provide a good, low-cost way to manage coyotes while giving hunters and trappers opportunities to pursue coyotes.
Coyotes also can be taken outside of these seasons on private land.
Many folks can’t wait till spring, however, winter is a good time to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a good time for fishing, hunting, hiking, looking for shed deer antlers as well as other activities.
Preparation, equipment, including clothing, and common sense are key to safety and having a good cold weather outdoor experience.
And after last year’s cold, difficult winter, the almanac folks and other long-range weather forecasters and calling for another colder 2014-15 December through March.
Dressing with clothing in layers is important for outdoor activities. You can always take layers off, if you become too warm while hiking or when involved in other outdoor recreation. It also is important to stay dry.
Jeff Manning with Heatmax, the makers of Hothands warms, says the most important thing in making a winter outing enjoyable is to plan ahead.
According to Manning, many people head out without checking the weather forecast and end up underdressed for conditions. That can happen in spring and fall as well. I learned the hard way.
Anyone who spends time outdoors should know about hypothermia, its symptoms and what to do about it. It’s the No. 1 killer of outdoor enthusiasts.
Knowing the symptoms of hypothermia and how to prevent it, could save your life or the life of someone else.
There are three stages of hypothermia. The first appears as uncontrolled shivering, mental sluggishness, and uncoordinated, and slurred speech. The second or moderate stage includes possible irrational behavior, violent shivering, slurred speech and loss of motor functions like tying shoe laces.
As it progresses into the severe stages, shivering may stop, muscle rigidity begins, breathing, pulse and blood pressure slow and a comatose state soon follows.
The treatment differs somewhat for each level, but re-warming the person is critical. Ironically, the majority of cases of hypothermia occur at temperatures of 30 to 50-degrees, not bitter cold weather.
I recall once making a foolish mistake by not dressing properly on a late spring fishing trip in Canada with my friend, Ted Legge. The temperature probably was near 70 degrees, but quickly dropped to the 50’s. A sunny sky turned to a cold rain. I was soaked while fishing in a boat mid-lake. I quickly went into early hypothermia. I had difficulty buttoning my shirt or doing much of anything.
Once I made it to shore and started hiking back to the cabin, I was OK. I learned a lesson.
To help prevent hypothermia, never drink alcoholic beverages when out in the cold. Alcohol slows circulation.
Dress in loosely layered clothing made of synthetic materials to help trap body heat.
If your clothing becomes wet, get to a sheltered area, out of the wind. Remove wet clothing and replace it with dry items or cover up with a dry blanket.
Pay special attention to your hands, feet and head, keeping these areas covered at all times. Avoid wrapping clothing too tightly around limbs as this can inhibit your blood flow. Never warm up too quickly. While the temptation is to plunge into a steaming bath, bringing your body temperature up slowly is best.
In severe cold, covering exposed skin especially in windy conditions is the best way to safeguard against another villain--frost bite. Skin protections can help to some degree but covering up your nose, fingers and toes is the biggest step in keeping frostbite away.
When enjoying the outdoors, always let someone know where you will be and when you expect to return. It also is a good idea to have a partner.
In addition, keeping an eye on your environment and being prepared for an emergency will help keep you safe during winter outings.
If you are lucky enough to have a wild turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you will have a bird that is better for your health than a domestic bird. I’m not knocking the tame variety, because I’ll be eating one.
In Kentucky, the wild turkey has made a wonderful comeback and undoubtedly wild birds will be found on a numbr of tables this week, but most people like the Junkers will be eating the domestic variety.
So what’s the difference between wild and domestic turkeys?
According to the national Wild Turkey Federation, the domesticated turkey, which most Americans eat every year for Thanksgiving, isn’t as healthy as the one that hunters pursue in the spring and fall.
Most pen-raised turkeys live on ground feed and are given antibiotics to keep them healthy. They’ve also been bred to have more breast meat, meatier thighs and white feathers.
Wild turkeys, on the other hand, feed on acorns, grasses, fruits and plants, which provide them with natural vitamins. And because they forage for what they eat, wild turkeys have less fat content than their domestic cousin.
“It’s no secret wild turkeys, like any wildlife, tend to search for more nutritional food until they find it,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, National Wild Turkey Federation senior vice president of conservation programs. “They prefer acorns, seeds, small insects and wild berries.”
Pen-raised turkeys grow faster than their wild relatives because modern production methods have sped up the time it takes for tame turkeys to mature. In just 18 weeks, male turkeys can reach a market weight of 35 pounds. Wild gobblers are only five pounds at that age and not nearly plump enough for table fare. You might say wild turkeys are slow grown in the woods, which means that what you’re eating is all-natural, not some frozen food that’s been raised for mass consumption.
“It’s definitely much healthier to eat wild turkey,” said Chef Albert Wutsch, director of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Academy of Culinary Arts. “Wild turkeys aren’t given dietary supplements or bred for a specific color and flavor.”
Just as there are genetic differences between wild turkeys and the tamed variety, there also are differences in the way they are cooked and prepared.
“One of the most meaningful ways to share in nature’s bounty is by sharing the fruits of the hunt with friends and family," said Rob Keck, head of the NWTF.
It is important that wild game is properly field dressed and frozen. Amy Minish, registered dietician in Alabama, says an important first step is to field dress the wild turkey----—or remove its internal parts—soon after the bird is killed. Doing so helps prevent bacteria from spreading to the meat. She also recommends cooking the turkey at an internal breast temperature of 160 degrees.
“If you remember nothing else, remember the flavor of game meat depends partly on how it was handled in the woods, how it was hauled home and when it was cleaned,” said Keck. “Many who have eaten wild turkey and think it’s too gamey have likely tasted meat from a poorly field dressed bird.”
Traditionalists say no turkey is fit for the table without its skin, so years ago, turkeys were plucked by hunters or camp cooks after a long day in the woods.
Actually, the decision about whether to skin or pluck really depends on how you plan to cook the turkey. For methods that can dry out the meat, such as roasting, the skin should be left on to seal in moisture. Plucking, rather than skinning, also reduces the risk of freezer burn.
But if skinless is your choice, consider deep-fried wild turkey; the meat will be moist and tender.
Tips for deep-frying your wild turkey can be found in the NWTF’s Wild About Turkey & Morecookbook: In the cookbook, NWTF volunteers have shared their favorite turkey recipes; many are like heirlooms that have been handed down for generations.
Also included in the cookbook are ways to bring your game from the woods to a warm kitchen, steps that include field dressing your bird to giving new life to leftovers. Several pages are devoted to the history of turkey hunting, a pastime rich in tradition that began long before settlers came to America.
Wild About Turkey & More can be ordered by calling 1-800-THE-NWTF or order online at www.nwtf.org.
Thanksgiving usually signals the end of harvest season and points to the cold weather months to come. This year, those signals have come early, prior to Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a special time for many, including a morning hunt prior to a good meal, often with family. And, importantly, it is a time to be thankful for our many blessings.
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
According to Wikipedia, several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.
Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, and has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well.
The early settlers and the Indians gathered for the first Thanksgiving. Hunting had been good as had nature's bounty of corn and other vegetables for the Indians, according to most historical reports.
It had been a tough year in 1621 for the settlers, but the Indians shared their bounty with them to start a long-standing tradition.
One of my greatest blessings is health. It’s not the best, but I’m still above ground, and enjoy the wonders of nature. We are fortunate to have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors -- to travel freely without fear to fish, hunt, camp, hike or just watch an eagle soar above the river
I’m convinced ISIS terrorists and others aren’t finished trying to take away our freedoms, but I’m also convinced they won’t be successful in the end..
Thanksgiving is a time for family. My wife, Phyllis and I both are of German heritage, and family always has been important to us. Our family has scattered a bit, but we’ll still be in touch one way or another.
Part of my Thanksgiving tradition is a morning hunt. Sometimes for rabbits, some times for quail or pheasants. Whether or not we come home with any game doesn’t matter. It is just the tradition of getting out in the field for a few hours while the women do their thing in the kitchen.
This year, Thanksgiving morning may involve casting a few lures rather than hunting. A leg problem has limited my mobility for hunting,
One of the first hunts I remember was when I was eight or 10. I didn’t yet have a rifle, but I had a Red Ryder BB gun. After breakfast at my grandparents, the guys decided to hunt a cornfield on the small Illinois farm. We hoped to scare up a rabbit or two nestled in the downed cornstalks amid the remnants of an early snow.
The men and older boys humored me and let me tag along with my Red Ryder. An ample supply of BB’s had been purchased with my allowance at the Western Auto Store.
We hadn’t walked far, when up jumped a startled cottontail. Guess I was the first to see him, and I quickly raised my trusty Red Ryder and squeezed the trigger for a shot.
No one told me I couldn’t kill a rabbit with a BB gun. So, to everyone’s surprise, I did.
The guys were amazed. The BB hit the cotton tail in the head, and dropped it in its tracks. It was the only rabbit we shot that Thanksgiving morning.
Well, I wish it had been an early indicator of great shooting ability on my part. But, that wasn’t the case. I grew up to be a lousy shot. But, that Thanksgiving morning was something special. It was a hunt I’ve never forgotten.
Thanksgiving this year probably won’t involve a hunt. A little fishing may substitute. But one this is sure. Like most Americans, I have much for which to be thankful to our Creator. A wonderful family, a wonderful country, and the wonderful outdoors.
It’s that time of the year to think about winterizing your boat motor in the northland, and in the southland, undoing the summerizing.
Since this old fisherman spends part of the winter in Florida and leaves a fishing boat there, it soon will be time to prepare the boat and motor for the upcoming crappie season. In the spring, the motor is summerized, much like winterizing which is necessary here in the colder climes.
Some people use their motors throughout the winter, but for those who put their boating on hold till the ice and freezing weather are gone, it is necessary to take steps to care for the motor during frigid weather.
The statf at the Boat Owners Association of The United States (Boat US) have put together a couple of true and false questions to help determine what is a half-truth, wive’s tale or tall tale related to winterinzing a recreational boat.
Boat US hopes the questions will help set the record straight and help folks prepare their motors for winter.
Ethanol (E10) fuel and engines: If a boat has a built-in gas tank, it’s recommended to leave the tank as full as possible over the winter with a smidgen of room for fuel expansion.
TRUE: Leaving the tank nearly full limits the amount of moisture that can potentially condense inside on the tank’s walls as outside temperatures fluctuate, preventing phase separation of ethanol (E10) fuel. Note one caveat: If your boat is stored in a rack system or indoor storage, check with the marina. They may require you to empty the tank to minimize the risk of fire. TIP: Never plug a fuel vent. Ever.
Ethanol and phase separation: Come springtime, any phase-separated gasoline in the tank can be fixed by adding a fuel stabilizer or additive.
FALSE: Once gasoline phase separates, that’s it. Kaput. End of story. The only solution is to have a pro remove the contaminated fuel and water mixture and start anew -- a difficult, hazardous and costly task for boats with built-in fuel tanks.
However, it’s critical to use a fuel stabilizer each fall to help keep fuel fresh over the winter, keep corrosion at bay and to help prevent the onset of phase separation.
TIP: Put the stabilizer in before you nearly fill the tank for its long winter nap. This will allow stabilizer to fully course through the fuel system as you run the engine when filling with antifreeze.
Freeze damage: Because it’s cold up there, BoatUS insurance claims for engine block freezing come from northern climates.
FALSE: While there are quite a few claims from the colder climates, many boat insurance freeze damage claims also come from southern, temperate states hit by an unexpected freeze or when space heaters fail due to sudden storm power loss.
In the northern climes, storm power outages also are to blame for engine block freeze related claims, however, both areas of the country have their fair share of winter freeze claims due to one reason: the failure to follow winterizing procedures.
TIP: Another option for protecting your engine is adding ice and freeze insurance to your boat insurance – most insurers do not charge much for it, but there are deadlines to purchase (BoatUS offers it for as little as $25 to its insured members until October 30).
Our dog Missy certainly isn't exempt from rolling in smelly stuff.
Over the years, the Junker family has had a number of dogs. All of the pets have been family dogs. Some have also been hunting dogs. but spent time in the house.
While all of the canines have spent time indoors, they all loved the outdoors. This includes our current dog, Missy.
And all of the dogs, large and small and with varying natural instincts, they all have had one thing in common. They loved to roll in stinky stuff, especially after a bath when they are still wet from the tub.
The rolls in or on smelly stuff doesn’t include unfortunate encounters with skunks. We’ve had plenty of those, but even the dogs don’t care for the black and white kitty perfume. That’s another story.
Our dogs have been fortunate to have a couple good vets. One is Dr. Carol Thompson in Lake Wales, FL. She sends a regular email newsletter and a column in the digital publication prompted this outdoor journalist’s effort related to rolling dogs.
“Why do dogs love the smell of disgusting things?” reads the headline.
It was something I often had thought about and even developed a theory of my own. So, naturally I had to read the column, and that prompted even a bit more research on the internet.
Is your dog getting into bad, smelly stuff to aggravate you? That’s highly unlikely, most dogs will do most anything to please their human. companion.
There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence, but several theories exist of rolling in stinky smell exist
Most theories, including mine, date back to the early nature of dogs, their natural instincts. In addition, what smells good or bad via a dog’s highly sensitive nose, may differ significantly in what smells good or bad to it’s human.
Most people find the smell of the shampoo they use on their dog pleasant, but Fido (or in our case Missy), and many dogs may find the aroma unpleasant. As a result, as soon as the dog has the opportunity it rolls in something that smells more acceptable to it, e.g. dog poop, something dead, or who knows what.
One reason a dog likes to roll in smelly stuff may be quite natural. It likely is instinctive behavior, going back to the days when a dog’s ancestors sought to mask their own smells so they could sneak up on prey while hunting for their next meal.
Another theory is that when dogs traveled in packs, a dog rolled in the smell to take it to other dogs to let them know what the had encountered when they were slightly away from the group.
It also is interesting that humans like bad smells. Many top perfumes used to cover sweaty bodies, contain stuff like whale snot, anal glands from Asian cats, and feces (ugh), although it is masked by rose, lilac and other human perceived good smells.
While getting into smelly stuff is natural for dogs, you don’t have permit them to enjoy it.
You shouldn’t punish your dog for doing it, but you can do things to prohibit the unwanted behavior.
If your dog rolls in its own feces, clean up the poop in your yard before he gets a chance to get into it.
When you are walking your dog, keep it on a short leash to keep it from rolling in another dog’s left behind deposit or anything else smelly.
Another effort to stop the rolling includes providing an unpleasant experience. Take a water squirt bottle with you and provide a squirt when Fido starts to roll. Or, you can provide some other annoyance such as a loud or sudden noise. Hopefully, one of these will help reduce the smells your dog likes, but you don’t.
One of professional bass fishing’s good guys plans to return to the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail next spring.
Mark Menendez of Paducah, a top angler, unfortunately had to take a leave from the tournament trail after his wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
After initially thinking she had beaten the disease, it returned and she lost her battle with the disease this past spring.
Although times have been difficult for Mark, he plans to return to tournament fishing early next year. He says he is confident he still has the physical skills and know-how, but figures mental concentration may be his biggest challenge.
Fellow outdoor writer Gary Garth recently wrote and interesting column about Mark in the Louisville Courier-Journal. It is a good read and can be accessed at the CourierJournal.com.
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WEST BOGGS REHAB -- The renovation of West Boggs Lake in Loogootee hopefully will not only improve fishing, but help the local economy.
West Boggs Lake was once a premier bluegill and bass fishing lake, drawing anglers from 81 Indiana counties, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Anglers spent an estimated $1.1 million in the local community in 1999, according to a DNR survey.
The quality of the fishery declined when populations of undesirable fish increased. From 2004 to 2010, the DNR survey found that recreational boating decreased by 11 percent and the number of angler visits decreased by 63 percent.
The once million-dollar fishery now contributes about $326,000 annually to the economy.
“Anglers buy bait, food, gas, and lodging in the area, bringing economic gain and tourism to the community,” DNR fisheries supervisor Brian Schoenung said. “In a small town, the nearly $800,000 dollars lost annually can have a big impact.”
The fisheries renovation at West Boggs was scheduled for this fall, beginning with the removal of adult bass and catfish that later will be returned to the lake.
Trained DNR staff will apply rotenone in the West Boggs watershed to eradicate remaining fish in the lake. Rotenone is a naturally occurring substance in several plant seeds and stems and is an EPA-regulated chemical. Rotenone quickly detoxifies in the environment and has virtually no effect on mammals and birds.
After the fish eradication, the lake will be allowed to refill. It will be stocked with hatchery-raised game fish and fish salvaged from the lake before the renovation.
A similar renovation in 1994 increased the number of angler visits to the lake annually by 71 percent.
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LIFE JACKETS -- As the weather cools, wearing an overcoat becomes a nearly automatic equipment choice for enjoying the outdoors.
At the same time, many people recreating around water seem to forget about wearing another, more vital type of jacket—a life jacket, according the the Indiana DNR.
That’s a mistake that can be life threatening during a season when many enjoy kayaking or canoeing, duck hunting from a jonboat, or taking a late-winter ice-fishing trip.
Water temperatures plummet, increasing the chance of hypothermia and the risk of drowning, particularly if a person goes overboard while not wearing a life jacket.
Indiana law requires all vessels to carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD (personal floatation device) for each person on board. In addition, vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except a canoe or kayak) must have one USCG-approved PFD on board and readily accessible.
“Cold water brings additional concerns to the recreating public,” said Indiana Boating Law administrator Lt. Kenton Turner. “Life jackets are a yearlong priority and should be the first thought on everyone’s mind when enjoying Indiana’s waterways.”