Good hunting through end of February

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February is a great to time hunt coyotes. It is the later part of the coyote breeding season, the right time for established males to answer the howl of a strange, and certainly unwelcome, male.

It is also cold and generally with snow cover, conditions that make dining out a difficult chore for always-hungry coyotes. That means evening hunts for hungry coyotes is a good bet.

Most hunters use mouth calls to imitate the screeching cries of small critters such as rabbits, mice or birds in distress in an attempt to attract the wild canines.

But coyotes aren’t easily fooled and always cautious. They typically don’t come running but instead often try to circle the sound to a point downwind where they can smell for danger.

It’s best, in the opinion of experienced coyote hunters, to add a point of interest to the hunt such as a furry fake bunny or a bird wing that flutters in the breeze. That is, something set out in plain sight for a coyote to focus on.

Sharp eyes

It keeps the sharp eyes of these top predators occupied. There seems to be a growing population of coyotes in many parts of Ohio and coyote hunting has become the favorite and most challenging of predator pursuits.

Another plus is that very few landowners will refuse permission to hunt these killers of barn cats, whitetail fawns, and other small creatures.

Antler hunting

Sheds are now dropping from whitetail bucks and by the later part of the month, shed hunters will be scouring the woodlots in search of dropped antlers. Shed hunting has become so popular that clubs are now established, record books kept and trophies displayed.

Best yet, it is a great way to get out of the house and burn some calories. While most shed hunters hit the woods when the snow cover is a few inches or less, a time when seeing dropped antlers is most likely, others have trained their dogs to do the legwork, increasing the chances of finding trophy antlers.

It’s not unusual in late winter to spot bucks with one antler after knocking the other off during their daily travels. But experienced shed hunters know that it is more likely that both antlers are dropped in the vicinity of each other.

Look for both

It pays to look hard for both antlers when the first is found. The best shed antler displays include the pair. And also, antler characteristics seem to carry from year to year, making it very possible to find the antlers from a particular deer in multiple years.

And still another advantage to shed hunting is to learn which bucks have survived the hunting season. With the advent and popularity of trail cameras it becomes relatively easy to match sheds with photos of bucks taken by trail cameras.

Crow hunting

Yet a third hunting opportunity exists as a February afterthought. Crow hunting is at its best right now and crow season closes March 5. Best strategy is to hide in a white parka and call crows to a fight with an angry owl decoy.

Crows hate owls and when crows and owls come into contact it’s a raucous affair indeed. Most crow hunters use electronic or taped calls that keep the sounds of a fight going. An effective trick is to scatter some black cloths on the ground around the decoy.

Curious crows see what looks like a mass murder by their most hated enemy and it’s usually enough to bring lots of crows into shotgun range.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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