Predator Hunting on the Manitoba Prairie
As a young lad growing up in any rural area can tell you, predators are a part of life, whether you like it or not. I was introduced to a form of predator control at an early age, my father always used to run a small trap line, nothing special, just a bunch of snares and a few foot traps set out on only the most popularly used predator trails. My old man was always on the lookout for a new spot to set up traps and was usually right on the money when he returned to see if his hunch was correct. His personal best was 8 coyotes and one red fox, which he managed to collect during a 2 - day period about 20 years ago, it seems the tradition is bred into our heritage. This is the story of how my brothers and I tied my dad's personal best.
I had received a call from by brother the previous evening to finalise our plans for sunup. We were to meet at my brother in - law's (BIL) and head exactly 2 miles north of his residence. This parcel of land contained 2 thick tracts of bush, where my BIL had seen at least 3 breeding pairs of coyotes enter each morning while on his way to work at a local potato farm. Here is how it played out:
It was a blustery, bone chilling February morning up here on the Manitoba prairies, upon arrival at this particular parcel of land; we were forced to stay in the truck. The brutal weather that Canada is known for decides when you're to hunt and when you're to stay in the shelter of your home, or in this case, vehicle. Overnight a system moved in and dumped at least 3 inches of white stuff, totally changing both our plans as hunters, and the coyotes' plans as predators. The wind was still howling out of the North West, bringing with it both a whiteout and temperatures including the wind chill of below -30 C, which coyotes don't particularly take much of a liking to, the decision was made to push these tracts of bush by my eldest brother, he figured the coyotes would still be held up in there waiting out the storm.
A decision that turned out to be dead on the money, as my brothers started pushing their way through the thick tangles of scrub brush and juvenile oak trees, I heard a shout from the far side, "There's a pair moving South towards you Shaun!" It was my BIL and he had forced the pair in my brother's direction, but only one ventured far enough and Shaun dropped it in its tracks with a quick shot from his new Stevens in .223. At the shot, the other coyote appeared directly in front of my other brother Dave, who quickly squeezed off a round from his Browning A-bolt in .204. Coyotes 0: Hunters 2! I was sitting point on the far South side just waiting for a coyote to bust out of the brush when all of a sudden, BOOM. Dave's shot forced another coyote back towards my BIL and that was the end of him, he connected with his Remington 700 in .300 WM, a bit overkill for coyotes, but that was the only rifle he had access to at the time. My brothers finished the push and we collected their prizes and hauled them back to the truck. After a short discussion regarding the whereabouts of the other 3 local coyotes, we decided to take a short drive around some of the neighbouring farmland to give this area a break.
This area of farmland is completely wide open, mostly due to potato farms that cleared the land in order to install central pivot irrigation systems. Each pivot sits on roughly 160 acres of field and each field is usually bordered by shelterbelts, rows of shrubs or trees to cut down on erosion. Our plans were to locate coyotes using the shelterbelts as "highways" as well as coyotes that like to spend the afternoons out in the middle of quarter sections in the wide open sunning themselves. By this time, the howling wind had died to a whisper and the sun was warming the frozen Canadian prairie as much as it dared to this time of year. Within the next mile we were to spot 4 more coyotes, all of which were on land we have permission to hunt, but there was one problem. The coyotes in these parts are smart, and especially weary of slow moving vehicles on the gravel roads. Our plan was to inconspicuously drop off 2 of us on one side of the quarter section, while the other 2 ventured to the other side of the section to drive the weary prey into shooting distance. The plan was almost too perfect; I figured the coyotes would be long gone in a different direction before I'd even get the chance to make a shot. To my surprise, the plan worked perfectly. My BIL Ryan and Dave went around the far side to push the coyotes towards Shaun and I and we both made perfect one shot kills, Shaun with his .223 and me with my Remington 700 SPS in 22-250. Coyotes 1: Hunters 5
This method seemed to work quite well and by the end of the day we had collected on another 3 coyotes and one nice perfectly prime red fox. Not a bad pile of fur for a days worth of excitement. Not bad at all! Final tally - Coyotes 1: Hunters 8 Red fox 0: Hunters 1!