Stop hunting! I mean it! STOP HUNTING!!!

When you see a coyote, or several of them, A feral hog or more likely, a whole drove of them, coming through your hunting area. I know, I Know, you say, “naw I’m not gonna shoot and mess up my hunt because I don’t get enough time off to hunt anyway and maybe they will go on off and I can still have a good hunt”.

That used to be my stance on the matter, as I would see a pig or a coyote just every now and then. But, now I see one, or both of them, in multiples nearly EVERY time I go to the woods! Let me ask you this? would you just let some roaches or rats crawl around in your home and “hope they go away”? NO! you jump up and take action immediately! Stomp em! spray em! shoot em! Then you go “strategic” on em! Buy rat traps, rat poison, roach spray, call in a professional exterminator! You just want em gone! All of em!

I say do the same with the coyotes, feral hogs, foxes, bobcats, feral dogs, coons, and other critters when you see them on your property. Twenty years ago, we had just a few coyotes and I would rarely see one, and unless it was real stupid and just “hung out” for an “easy shot”, I just let it go. I would not take a running shot, a long shot, an early afternoon shot or an early morning shot. Now I see a multitude of tracks, scat, and hear those darn coyotes howling and creating all type of racket on far too many afternoons where I hunt. I don’t know if taking a more aggressive stance to coyote control sooner would have helped but, I certainly believe it would have helped!

How many afternoon or morning hunts have you experienced when the deer were pouring out of the woods and the field was full of deer and you were having a great time just watching them graze. when, all of a sudden, they all stop grazing and start staring in the woods, then a big ole “propeller headed doe” gives a loud PHEEWUU!!! and the whole field clears in about a second! You are pretty sure it was not you, so you stare into the woods and out walks a coyote, a bobcat, or a bunch of feral hogs! I have had way too many good hunts, both morning and afternoon, ruined by stalking coyotes or pilfering pigs!

Starting about three years ago, when the first pigs were spotted on our place, I made up my mind that regardless of the circumstances, I was going STOP HUNTING and take every shot I could at any coyote, feral pig, bobcat, fox, or coon that I saw as soon as I had any chance at all. While I admit, I am most likely not making much of a “dent” in the population, I have killed close to a dozen coyotes, only two pigs, and last season alone, I killed 5 bobcats, a large fox and more coons than I care to discuss. Now I know, some of you say why a coon? A coon kills more birds by raiding nests for eggs than any other critter in the woods! I am a more avid turkey hunter than a deer hunter and I am pretty enthusiastic in the pursuit of both! Coons are my competitor for the available gobblers of the future and I “aim” to reduce the competition!

According to an article I read recently in the magazine, ALABAMA OUTDOOR NEWS, a recent scientific study conducted at Fort Rucker in south Alabama, found that fawn mortality rates due to predation that they attributed to mostly being done by coyotes was NEAR 65% !! In simple terms, instead of 5 to 8 fawns out of 10 surviving to adulthood, the rate had dipped to only 2 to 3 fawns in 10 making it! When I first read that, I thought, maybe so, maybe not, but the more I read, the more I was convinced the research was based on hard data provided through extensive research from Auburn University’s Deer Lab, check it out and more importantly, send them some support!

As hunters, we must change and step up to “get a handle” on this increased level of predation our game animals are being subjected to in recent years. Deer populations will continue to fall and we may see a “Predator Pit” situation in which the increase of predators drives deer herds below the plentiful status we have enjoyed over the last two or three decades.

In the “old days” farmers, field hands, gardeners, country people, took every opportunity to kill a predator animal any time of the year and most of them kept a gun with them on trips to the woods. Coyotes and feral hogs should be getting the same treatment these days, but not nearly as many of us take the time to go outdoors on a daily basis, we have fewer family farms, fewer dogs with free range in the country that would chase away and even sometimes catch and kill a predator. Without predator hunters to keep the population in check, the predators have done what any species will do, flourish and spread when the habit is good. The coyotes came east because the food is plentiful and the competition was not! In this case, It is up to us hunters to become better predator hunters. When you go out for a day of four wheeler riding, scouting, doing upkeep on the roads, lanes and stands, keep a gun near and use it when any opportunity arises to take out some of your “four legged” competition.

So next time you are on your favorite stand and the deer woods are getting “right” and you spot that coyote, that pig, that feral predator of any description, STOP HUNTING! AND START SHOOTING!!! The predator problem is only going to get worse if you and me don’t do our part!

I just posted a photo where a friend of mine, Jarrod Oates, from around Headland, who did just what we all should do to predators, he stopped hunting, got down out of his deer stand, stalked up on a herd of feral hogs and took one out with a well placed arrow! He said his only regret was that he “could not reload fast enough to get more than one”.

With deer season on the way, think about entering a big buck contest, or several and you might be double lucky! once in the woods and again as a contest winner! Alabama Black Belt Adventures is kicking off a “Big Buck” Contest that is sure to be a top contest around our great Central Alabama Outdoors, check their website and enter the contest!

November is soon here! Just right for huntin some deer!

But, shoot some of them darn “killing critters” ” whenever one gets near!!

Remember – Predator is a “fourlegged” word.

On a special note – please view this wonderful hunting charity that uses the proceeds to rescue children in Moldavia from some very dire situations. I know it will touch your heart and hopefully you will be able to help them out! Hunters are a generous type and I know you are! Check it out!



Small Game Hunting Equals Big Memories for Kids!

Like many of you I really enjoy the start of Bow Season and like to bow hunt when I can. There is however, another type of hunting that is great fun and if you have kids, it is a wonderful way to introduce them to hunting and shooting sports.

I am of course talking about small game hunting, which for most of us, is squirrel or rabbit hunting or a combination hunt. As a child my dad, grand-dad, big brother and various relatives took me hunting with them and most taught me something beneficial about the sport of hunting. My dad was a “big- time” rabbit and deer hunter by the means of dogs. He always had a beagle trio or foursome at various times and I enjoyed rabbit hunting immensely, including eating them! Daddy had so many friends and relatives who allowed us to hunt rabbits on their properties that we had an almost inexhaustible supply of new places to go.

Daddy loved to hunt the swamps and bottom lands around our home in south Tuscaloosa County along the Black Warrior River, but we also took many trips sown to Greene and Sumter counties to bag some great quotas of big “cane-cutter” rabbits. Many of my relatives called them “black-back swamp rabbits”. Whatever they called them, I called them delicious! And sometimes I called them “heavy!” When you are seven or eight years old and weigh about 50 pounds, 7 or 8 big rabbits was almost equal to my weight! Daddy would make me carry the rabbits until I got tired and then he would laugh a little and tell me to give him the game-sack and he would shoulder them so easy and make them look so light that after a short rest, I usually asked for them back to “prove” to him that I was strong! It was memories so sweet and fresh in my mind that I believe I will be able to relive them when I am on my death bed.

My dad carried a Remington 22 auto rifle for all small game hunting and he proved time and again, his ability to deliver that 22 short round just where he wanted it, which was usually a head shot so as to “save all the meat for the table” he would say with a grin as he waited for me and others to praise his marksmanship One morning however, he shot several different big gobblers down with his 12 gauge double barrel shot gun, only to have each one run off! He was so excited that he made bad shots on four birds that day! That was another memory neither of us ever forgot, although he tried to many times. I will try to remember to expound on that when spring turkey season gets close, back to the small game…

The experience of slipping through cool autumn woods along a big swamp bottom or up a hardwood ridge trying to spot and stalk squirrels for the right shot can be a memory maker for many fathers and sons, or daughters. It is a type of hunting that if you miss or they miss, you can just quietly “laugh it off” and go find another squirrel just across the acorn flat or just over the next ridge if your hunting the “hill country”. Squirrels are so plentiful, so much fun to stalk after, and can build the confidence of many young hunters that they can hit wait they aim at and can be successful hunters. It is the first game animals most of us take and repeated success in the squirrel woods can lead to success in the deer woods and provide the incentive for many youngsters to get out of bed and out of the house for some good exercise in the woods and learning to appreciate nature and the thrill of the hunt that makes even us “fity-somethings” feel like a kid again.

Young hunters should be given several good practice opportunities to shoot what ever type gun you choose for them. Many choices are available and I think a good choice is a 410 gauge, single shot – shot gun. 410′s are small enough so as not to intimidate a smaller child, boys or girls, and it is a “confidence builder” since the aim is not nearly as critical as when lining up a shot with a 22 rifle. If you do decide, or the child does express reservations about shooting a shotgun, then a 22 rifle with a good scope is the next best option. A 22 rifle requires a more steady aim and can shake the confidence of some youngsters because they will miss a lot more often until they have had lots of opportunities to shoot at actual game animals. A 22 rifle with “open sights” can be very hard for kids to get the front site, rear site and the animal all lined up to make a successful shot.

Be sure as you teach your child to shoot, that you impress on them at the beginning of each practice or hunt the aspects of safety at all times and proper gun handling techiques. I am not going to lecture on this subject, but it is of vital importance!

The best way to overcome this problem is practice,practice,practice. so if you have time and the young hunter is enthusiastic about shooting and can get proficient enough to make shots at up to 35 -40 yards, then the 22 is the way to go.

As a child, my first gun was a single barrel 12 gauge that was “taller” than me. but, I carried it with pride and knocked the squirrels out of the tree tops starting at about 4 years old and haven’t stopped yet!

What do you do with the squirrels after they are in the sack? Please consider the lessons you are teaching about how you use what you take from the woods. In our family it was a punishable offense to not properly clean and prepare the meat for the table. If squirrel is not your favorite, please find someone who will use the meat and make sure your child understands the importance of respecting the game and not to ever carelessly discard any animal taken. I remember when I came in tired one evening from chores and a squirrel hunt where I only bagged two squirrels. I left them in my game bag and one of the dogs was found eating one of them the next morning by my dad. He came and got me out of bed, whipped me, gave me the respecting game lecture that I already knew and I felt like a real heel after that event. I made a vow to not break that rule again and many times when a poor hunt resulted in as little as one squirrel, rabbit, quail, etc. I would always clean it and freeze it until I had collected enough to make a meal for my family.

Squirrel are actually very good to eat if rolled in flour and “chicken-fried” or boiled off the bone and used for a squirrel dumpling pot, fix it just like chicken, or mix the meat with some good long grain white rice and your favorite vegetables such as mushrooms and onions. Man! I am getting hungry just thinking about those “limb chickens!” Saturday morning I plan to get me some!

Take a youngster to the squirrel woods or on a rabbit hunt if you know someone with a beagle. You will create a lifetime memory for both you and the young hunter!


David Harris