As you may be aware we’ve been helping local South Carolina farmers with hog problems in recent weeks. We continue hunting hogs in hopes of reducing the crop and land devastation they cause which can literally put a financial hurting on farmers and business owners… but more on that in a future blog!
We learn more and more about hog hunting with each week, each hunt, and each track of land we pick up. Hogs are some tough animals and they’ll eat just about anything. As we learn we’ve also been adjusting and updating our strategy. One of the updates we’ve made has been to the firearm of choice.
From 223, to 300 Blackout, to 308
One thing it didn’t take us long to figure out was that our night-vision setup for coyotes was too small for some of the larger hogs we were chasing. The setup was an AR-15 shooting a 223. Yes, you can take a hog with a 223, but at the distances we found ourselves shooting from and with some larger hogs we were encountering the decision to upgrade wasn’t a hard one.
The first move was to change out the upper on the AR-15 in order to shoot the 300 Blackout. We, again, reached out to the team at Reel Determined Outdoors to get exactly what we needed. The team at RDO had the new upper overnighted and in our hands by week’s end. Talk about turn-around time! We were excited to move up in bullet size and went back to the range to ensure we had it zero’d in. It only took 2 shots to confirm. The Pulsar thermal scope proved its accuracy quickly and easily.
At the end of that week we had some hogs coming in on a pattern and we setup on them. Sure enough they came out right when expected and at a pretty close distance the 300 blackout put a hurting on one of them. However, we ended up trailing the hog for 2 hours when the blood trail just ended. Now I know you may be reading this and saying “Ya’ll just can’t shoot!”. I’m not going to argue with anyone… a 300 blackout can definitely get the job done on a hog and we even got one with it, but we were tired of shooting hogs and having to trail them forever.
Perhaps I could have made a better shot and not been in that scenario, but the repeated long nights of trailing hogs forever was getting frustrating. In the midst of frustration, being soaked in sweat, having mosquitoes wearing me out, and walking in woods trailing the hog for 2 hours I told Gavin that I’d had enough and that I was to upgrade (yet again) so that we wouldn’t end up that situation anymore. In that moment, it was a done deal.
The next day we contacted Reel Determined Outdoors again to confirm that they would work with us on a gun exchange. Upon confirmation, the new Anderson Arms 308 "Hunter" was ordered. Of course, we stayed with the Anderson Arms RF-85 setup too! In a matter of days, the new gun arrived and we were on our way.
In just holding the AM-10 308 one can instantly tell its heavier than the AR-15 platform. We found that the heavier weight makes it easier to steady the gun when shooting. The AM-10 was also a few inches longer than the AR-15. We figured that out because it wouldn’t fit in the same pelican case as the AR!
To give you an example of the difference in power from the AR-15 to the AM-10 models we can reflect on the sighting in of all these models. With the 223 and 300 Blackout when we shot the hot-hands or ice packs we had to then go down and look for the hole where we hit the target. With the 308 on the first shot the bag of ice exploded, the flat wood holding the target fell off the stake, and the stake had a huge hole in it. After that first trigger pull we knew we were dealing with a much more powerful weapon.
Back to Hunting…
On the next two hog hunts we didn’t see anything. Temperatures have recently been warming up and it seems the hogs are still in the area, but their pattern is changing. They are coming in at various times throughout the night (per what the game cam is showing us). We stayed out late one evening in the drizzling rain waiting on them and never saw anything. On a different occasion, we woke up at 4am - all trying to cross paths with a specific set of hogs, but no luck yet. It has been frustrating recently, but we’re staying after it!
When Coyotes Crash the Hog Hunt
That leads us to this past weekend. One area we hog hunt also has a bad coyote problem. We frequently see and/or hear coyotes when hog hunting this location. We are intently focused on getting some hog meat in the freezer, but whenever a coyote comes on the scene the hunt instantly turns into a coyote hunt! This often happens during deer season as well.
It was Saturday night, hog bait was out, hogs had been frequenting the area, and over 40 lbs of corn had been eaten the night before. It was a good scenario and it we hoped it was just a matter of time. The waiting game had begun.
Early in the hunt some deer worked the edge of the field to the right. They were in no hurry and it was neat to see them there. Their presence signaled a quiet entry and setup. If the deer weren’t spooked neither would be the hogs.
I was scanning the field when I picked up some heat at the back-left corner of the field. I could tell from the length of the tail, size of the animal, and the way it trotted that it was a coyote. The area has some hills in it and the coyote was showing in and out of the hills. I probably watched the first coyote for 10 minutes before the 2nd one showed up. The first coyote was pawing at the dirt… it was neat to watch. The 2nd coyote was seemingly smaller in size, but it wasn’t interested in whatever the initial coyote was messing around with. In a way, I was hoping they would leave the field and I could focus on getting a hog, but when I saw them heading into the clear area of the field I knew I had to handle business.
The two coyotes then turned and started coming towards my direction. It was intense to have them closing that much space and being up close and personal with me. Since they were coming my way I just let them continue to see how close they would get. Then the lead coyote started bending toward my left and was in some brush. I looked back to the right and the larger coyote was following suit. I was getting ready to drop the hammer. All I needed was for the coyote to pause. Well in an odd occurrence of events one of the deer that were working up the edge of the field just started blowing like they do. I guess they smelled me or something they didn’t like, but whatever it was I was glad because at the sound of the blow the coyote paused and turned his head quickly toward the sound. That pause was all I needed and I pulled the trigger.
The coyote instantly dropped and to my surprise the lead coyote then turned and ran back across me heading to the far corner of the field. I started yelling and barking at the coyote to make it stop. However, the coyote wasn’t stopping so I squeezed off a second shot on a prayer hoping I could connect, but was unable to.
For now, I can say that a 308 is nothing but lights out for a coyote! I’m sure it will handle business on a hog too, but that’s for a future blog entry so stay tuned...
Here’s the video of the hunt…
The 2017 Predator Challenge was another successful event. We had hunters from SC, NC, & VA competing this year with a total of 86 teams and 281 hunters. We had been preparing to both host and participate in the competition all year and looked forward to its arrival. Out of all the years we’ve hosted the event it seemed like this year saw the most activity and movement from coyotes. Everyone we talked to seemed to have enjoyed the event regardless of how many coyotes they ended up getting on the ground.
As many of you know and as we mentioned yesterday at the check-in we don’t charge a fee for the competition and we don’t make money from it. We are regular hunters just like you who hope to protect our deer, turkey, duck, and others species for future hunters. (Hunting coyotes also helps protect local farmer’s livestock).
We would not be able to host the competition without the generous donations from our sponsors. They donate their products and services for free for the winners. They don’t have to do this! We ask that you patronize the sponsors by buying your goods, products, and services from them. Be sure to be vocal about our appreciation for their sponsorships. Without the sponsors we would not have a competition.
Competition Volunteers Thanks
Hosting a competition is not an easy task. There are tons of details to consider, emails to be sent, sponsors to connect with, hunters to explain (and re-explain) rules to, etc. You get what I’m saying… a competition doesn’t just host itself. With that said I’d like to also thank Gavin Jackson and Adam Smith. Gavin and Adam are the main guys behind making the competition possible. They stalk and wrangle sponsors, handle the Facebook promotions, constantly talk with hunters, promote the competition to everyone, build the check-in setup, handle the weighing of coyotes, and handle all the details that you don’t see on the surface. If you all see, know, or communicate with these guys be sure to thank them.
Did Changing the Date Result in Better Numbers?
Based on feedback from last year’s competition participants we moved the competition from January to March. This was done for the sake of listening to our participant’s feedback. This change allowed for the use of night vision for hunting coyotes as SCDNR has implemented a night-hunting program where hunters can register their lands for night hunting and use infrared and/or thermal optics to hunt coyotes.
Moving the competition to March ran the risk of much warmer weather, but we lucked out this year as it was cool the entire weekend. We were interested to see how moving the competition would affect the numbers at the check-in. Of course, there are more variables than just the time of year, but we really can’t control the weather. We anticipated a good turnout at the check-in as we received messages during the competition of people seeing a lot of coyotes while they were hunting. It seemed they were moving well this past weekend. It would turn out that we had a total of 57 coyotes checked-in, which is more than all previous years combined. Whether it was changing the competition from January to March or just a lucky streak of movement we don’t know, but we were pleased with the outcome.
This years winners were:
First Place – Jim Shepherd, Concord, NC - 12 Coyotes
Second Place – Carolina Coyote Slayers, Denver, NC - 8 Coyotes
Third Place + Big Dawg (42.8 lbs) – Wind Walkers Kryptonite, Lucknow SC – 7 Coyotes
Sportsman's Warehouse Gun Give-Away Winner - Ben McAlister, Monroe NC
Thanks, Surveys, & Video
Thanks to everyone who hunted in the competition. We appreciate your support and hope you enjoyed the event. We’ll be sending out emails asking for feedback very soon. We’ll see you next year at the check-in.
We've been hosting the Predator Challenge for 6 years now and we've seen it constantly grow in numbers and popularity. The awareness of what coyotes are doing across the state to both game & livestock populations is spreading quickly and as a result so is the sport of predator hunting. We're happy to continue hosting the competition and we hope you'll join us this year.
SCDNR Coyote Incentive Program
Since last year SC DNR has implemented a Coyote Harvest Incentive Program! If you are not aware of this (and registered in it) please take a look at SC DNR's site. You could win some cool stuff from SC DNR simply by shooting coyotes! Visit the Coyote Harvest Incentive Program page.
Learn more about the competition and register your team for the WeHuntSC.com 2017 Predator Challenge
See you at the check-in!
This year turkey season came in on a cool and windy Sunday morning. A cold front came in that brought some really strong wind with it and conditions were not the best for turkey hunting. On top of that we couldn’t hunt too long as we needed to head to the early church service too, Palm Sunday. Nevertheless we still wanted to give it a shot.
As most of you are aware I’ve been working on the Tech-Turkey this off-season and was ready to give it a test run. My friend Will List picked me up early and we headed to the woods. We’ve got some turkeys on the land we hunt that consistently come out in the field in the mornings.
When we parked the wind was really gusting and pollen was in the air. I didn’t know if we would be able to have any success with the wind blowing so hard. On the way into the field we found a nice shed rack which I always enjoy finding. I was hoping it would be a sign of good luck.
We set up on an island of woods that overlooks a field. I went and put the decoy out about 35 yards away from us. Once set up I logged into WeHuntSC.com on my phone and tested connectivity and movement. The turkey was moving around just as it should. We were good to go and the sun was rising.
As it became lighter in the sky we were able to see the trees swaying back and forth in the wind. We hadn’t heard a gobble in the distance and really couldn’t hear much other than the wind. Usually by this time we would have heard some gobbles in the distance. We stayed and waited it out hoping for some gobblers to come around.
Will wanted to video the turkey from his phone and he asked me to make it move. So I made the turkey move and he videoed it. We were both looking down at our phones and I looked up to see 2 coyotes coming straight for the decoy. We didn’t hear a howl or have sign of coyotes coming, they came in silent and were focused in on the decoy. The wind that had been blowing so strongly was directionally blowing across our face so the coyotes couldn’t smell us. I couldn’t believe how close in they came.
Since Will was looking down at his phone I said “Will” and I turned the camera on. Will grabbed his gun and I was videoing. The coyotes came within 35 – 40 yards of us and like 10 yards from the decoy. Will debated letting them get even closer, but if he waited we may have been leaving with a mangled up decoy. In the video you can see the coyote pause for a second and that was the moment that Will pulled his gun up. Then seconds later he shot twice and hit the coyote both times. The coyote was flat getting out of there, but Will’s 20 gauge, 5-shot wasn’t enough to bring him down. It was definitely an interesting hunt. I think the coyotes will think twice before rolling up on a turkey again though!
So as you can imagine this wasn’t the hunt we had hoped for and it’s definitely not a good sign to have coyotes aiming for turkey decoys and our turkeys in general. Though, for the part of the Tech-Turkey decoy it is a good sign that the coyotes came to it because it was realistic to them. Usually coyotes are very keen on things and it’s a positive sign that they came in.
Hopefully next time we’ll be able to get some turkeys to come in.
The 2016 Predator Challenge was another successful event. We continue to grow as this year’s competition had 85 teams and 260 hunters registered on the website. It’s great to see the growth in the competition, but the awareness of the sport is what we’re really pleased to see. Ultimately we are outdoorsman who love to hunt and we host this competition to help raise awareness for what coyotes are doing to other game populations around the state (as the below video denotes). The more people we can get hunting coyotes, the better off our deer, turkey, ducks, and other game species are.
Coyote Only For The First Time
This year we implemented a request that hunters had voiced in post-competition-surveys for some time. The majority of our participants demanded a “Coyote Only” hunt and so this year that’s what we delivered. We knew that cutting out foxes and bobcats would lessen the number of people that could win, but our main purpose is to hunt coyotes as they are the true predators affecting deer, turkey, farm animals, and other wild game populations around the state. We didn’t know what to expect making this change, but in retrospect I think it was good and everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves.
It should go without saying that we cannot hold a competition without sponsorship. We are very fortunate to have some great sponsors. If you are predator hunters please check out our sponsor organizations and their products as they are the true ones who support you and us!
As everyone knows, the weather this weekend was not the best for hunting. It was particularly difficult for us upstate hunters and for NC teams. The snow, sleet, and ice made travel difficult and it made the coyote hunker down for a good portion of the weekend.
We received some criticism via email, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc. about the competition weekend. People were saying we should reschedule, pick a different weekend, or have some alternative. For those who were criticizing understand a few things… we plan the competition months in advance and aim for a full moon, we don’t control the weather any more than you do, and several hunters take Friday off work to hunt while others line up specific land to hunt for this weekend. If we were to reschedule at the last minute it would inconvenience a lot of other people as well. It’s just difficult to please everyone with rules, scheduling, the weather, and timelines we have to operate under in order to host the competition. It’s very similar to a bass tournament where they fish regardless of the weather. Also, keep in mind that this is a FREE competition and we’re doing the best we can to serve all the hunters in our state and beyond. We do not make any money from the weekend. We actually lose money to host it. So we acknowledge the weather and your complaints and we take them with a grain of salt :-)
Team Members: Tyler Logan, Erica Catoe, Jacob Gainey
Counties Hunted: Lee, Darlington, Sumter
Coyote Total: 8
2nd Place: Carolina Dawg Killers
Team Members: Cody Ahlstrom, Trent McWhorter, Simmty McWhorter, Cambel Cox
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield, Union (NC)
Coyote Total: 7
3rd Place: McKenzie Outdoors
Team Members: Eddie McKenzie, Barret Griggs, Scottie Hoffman, Patrick Griggs
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield
Coyote Total: 2
Big Dawg: Carolina Dawg Killers
Team Members: Cody Ahlstrom, Trent McWhorter, Simmty McWhorter, Cambel Cox
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield, Union (NC)
Big Dawg Weight: 43.9
Congratulations again to the winners and thanks again to everyone who hunted in this year’s Predator Challenge. If you participated in the event you will receive an email sometime in the near future asking for feedback, concerns, thoughts, and snide remarks!
See you again next year!
Often time’s people ask “What kind of gear do I need to go coyote hunting?” This video is designed to give you a general understanding of some of the gear we use when we go coyote hunting. Outside of the gun & calls, most of the gear is related to scent, wind, and concealment. Robbie Boone gives an overview of the gear used when coyote hunting.
REGISTER FOR THE COYOTE HUNTING COMPETITION
Today’s video is all about calling coyotes. If you’ve never called for coyotes then the point of this video is to give you a high level understanding of sounds coyotes react to and make. It is true that most hunters use electronic calls to call coyotes, but in this video I’m using mouth calls as demonstrations. Typically when we hunt we’ll use a mix of electronic and mouth calls. Ultimately though it’s whatever works for you. Some of my favorite electronic calls are ICOtec & Primos
REGISTER FOR THE COYOTE COMPETITION
We’re continuing our video series on Coyote hunting with today’s video “Coyotes 101”. This video was part of our introduction section at Sportsman’s Classic Coyote Hunting Information Session.
The purpose of this video is to help you get a general understanding of coyotes and coyote hunting. We often hear people say that they don’t know the first thing about coyotes. They ask us what to look for, what to listen for, when they should hunt, and how to set up for coyote hunting. And that’s exactly why we made this video, to help you get a broad understanding of coyotes and coyote hunting.
The Coyote Hunting Competition is next week. We are excited and getting ready for it! As we lead up to the competition we are going to share some videos that we used as part of our presentation last year at SCDNR's annual expo, The Sportsman's Classic. These videos were used throughout the presentation and were accompanied by a thorough PowerPoint slide deck. If you're interested in us giving the same presentation to your group, just give us a shout, we'll be glad to.
In this first video we set the stage for why we need to hunt coyotes. We interviewed a local hunter and a local farmer, both of which are being affected by coyotes. These individuals are an example of what's happening in our local community, but there are people just like this in every area of South Carolina.
As you can see it's important for us to hunt coyotes! So join us in raising awareness for the Coyote Hunting Competition!
Every year hunters highly anticipate The Predator Challenge, our annual competition focused on reducing the coyote population. This year we’ve been receiving emails about the competition, getting asked in-person, and we even had a team register to the competition before it was announced! So yes, there is a lot of excitement around the competition. Last year at the check-in one of the participants told me that his team looks forward to the competition every year because it’s a weekend they plan ahead for, enjoy spending time together, and going hard competing against Mother Nature and other hunters in the state. He said it was an annual tradition for them and that was great to hear.
Why a Coyote Hunting Competition
It’s important to keep in mind the ultimate reason why we host this competition. We spend time and energy hosting this competition to help raise awareness about the damage that coyotes are doing to our game populations and to farmer’s livestock across the state. SCDNR’s studies based on tracking fawn mortality rates related to coyotes have shown that coyotes are a “player” in the landscape of deer management. We all know they are getting after more than deer though. So, we host the competition to give everyone a weekend to focus on coyotes, to meet other coyote hunters, and to spread the word about the growing sport of coyote hunting.
Many of you reading this are familiar with the competition and simply want to know what’s new this year and the logistics of the competition. So here you have it:
If you want to read the complete list of rules then see the Coyote Competition page.