Rut Report Nov. 9: Dogs and Deer

Day No. 9 of a 13-day rut hunt is in the books. Discover what North American Hunter Senior Managing Editor Dave Maas learned during his day in South Dakota.

My 11-year-old son asked if he could coyote hunt this morning (November 8), so of course I said “yes.” I left my bow at home, and Elliott and I sat on the ground overlooking the creek and placed two decoys (shown in photo above) in hopes that a wandering coyote would spot the critters and come in closer for a look.

At daybreak we spotted the two 4x4 bucks I showed in photos in a previous blog post, and Elliott enjoyed watching them circle each other in preparation of a fight. They were only 40 yards away. The smaller 8-pointer retreated right before the battle, and soon the deer were heading off to the east. Elliott was still watching the two bucks at 50 yards when I glanced back to the west and spotted a coyote quickly closing the distance to the decoys!

Elliott raised his .22LR (last-second decision to coyote hunt; .243 Win. is home in Minnesota) and when the coyote stopped on a log to look at the fluffy white stuffed animal (dog), Elliott pulled the trigger. To be honest, I think he missed, but from a range of 35-40 yards, he might have hit the dog and simply didn’t have enough firepower to provide a visual clue of impact. Next time we’ll be better prepared.

Because I knew Elliott would have to be within 20 yards or so to do much damage to a coyote with a .22LR, we relocated across the creek and placed our decoys in an open gap in the brush. We didn’t see any more coyotes, but we did have another 120-class 4x4 walk up to us and finally veer behind us at only 10 yards. Like the other two 4x4s, this buck was alone and slowly walking with nose to the ground.

The remainder of the day was relatively slow, although my wife did see one big buck at 3:30 p.m. but he winded her from a range of 50 yards.

Tomorrow we have a massive cold front approaching; the first wave (sleet) is supposed to hit at around 8 p.m. We have a chance of getting up to 9 inches of snow through Sunday night and Monday! How will this weather affect the rut? Who knows . . . but I’ll be out there to find out!

P.S. Regarding our two coyote decoys: I had one battery-operated critter motion decoy stashed in the basement here in SD, but it’s brownish gray, and I didn’t think a coyote would spot it without snow covering the ground. To remedy that problem, I tied a vintage 1987 Minnesota Twins Homer Hanky to its tail to make it more visible from a distance. To further sweeten the pot, Elliott searched his bedroom closet and found a stash of old stuffed animals. He found a long-haired white puppy thingy, and I thought it looked like something a coyote might like for dessert, and it worked!