Coyote control or predator management on your property is often a piece of any good wildlife management plan, but this process can be difficult for the uninformed. On this episode of the National Land Podcast, Mac speaks with Texas Land Broker Wayne Dunson to discuss his approach to predator management after noticing coyotes chasing and killing deer on his property. Here’s how Wayne started managing predators on his land!
Mac Christian: So what was your approach? Like so you identify the problem, you see that you have a possible predator issue. And at this point, you’ve seen two incidents where coyotes are chasing deer in broad daylight, which is not typical right? Then what are your next steps?
Wayne Dunson: So we realized fast that there was a piece of our management plan that was lacking, and that was predator management. We were doing nothing to address that issue. So I had to start researching best methods. How am I going to try to tackle this? I have no idea how to set a trap, I’m not a trapper. So I started doing a lot of online research and I did a lot of reading, even through the extension service here, Texas Parks and Wildlife. There are a lot of websites and resources that explain a lot about the management of predators.
And I started watching a lot of videos on YouTube from trappers that share their experiences. So I did a lot of research and figured out one of the easiest methods that we could do was to put out snares on these holes under our fences. I mean, basically, go and target exactly where the coyotes are coming in and out and put snares there. And it was a very, very targeted approach because we knew that they were actively using these sites to get in and out. So that’s where we started, with the snares.
Oh, wow. So you went through the whole border of the 300 acres and just found each dig site through the fence and then started snaring those?
Exactly, yeah. And I reached out to a neighbor to ask him about the same thing. It turned out that I didn’t even know he had two snares on our fence line because they were coming through our place and into his! So and he goes, “Yeah, I’ve trapped, 26 coyotes and like, six bobcats in the past, like, 18 months.” And I’m going, Why didn’t you tell me?? I would have been on board with trying to help out. I just didn’t know how or that they were that bad. So it turned out that they were really thankful that we were ready to hop on board and do the same.
Oh yeah. Well and that kind of comes back to something that we’ve had a few conversations with Dr. Grant Woods from GrowingDeer.TV and he’s a specialist in the cultivation of land for deer habitats. And he talks a lot about how one of the primary things you can do to really help your land is to get in touch with your neighbors.
And you don’t think about it because you kind of jump immediately into like getting this percentage of protein out there or needing forage and cover for the animals. It’s easy to overlook calling the neighbors, right? But it’s important too because if your wildlife or predator management plan doesn’t match your neighbor’s, everything’s gonna be wonky. You can’t just buy this island in the middle of nowhere and expect animals to flock to it, your neighbors need to be on board too to help everybody and draw animals in. So, that’s a really big step. Did you guys continue to work together on that kind of stuff?
Absolutely. So, this piece of property had changed owners actually and we met one of them for the very first time. We met and they helped set some snares because I need a little bit of guidance on how they were doing it as well. So we met up face to face and actually started a new relationship, and now anytime they get anything, they text me pictures of it and I do the same for them. We kind of keep each other updated on what’s going on. It’s pretty cool.
Awesome. And we talked a little bit before and it sounded like you didn’t just have predators, you had a surplus of coyotes. Your neighbor had already been taking care of some, but you ended up finding out that you had quite a few, right?
Oh gosh, more than I would have ever anticipated. We started our trapping program in January 2021. And since that time, we’ve taken out, 30 coyotes. I mean that’s the ones that we’ve caught There’s been a number of times that I’ve gone out and the snares have been knocked down, so who knows who did that. We’ve also taken out a bobcat. I don’t worry too much about those, but yes, thirty coyotes. And really, we haven’t caught a coyote in the last couple of months. So you can probably dial that back and say, in the last 20 months, we’ve taken out 30 coyotes on 328 acres. And at the same time, our neighbor has also trapped some so that’s an unbelievable figure.
Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. Like, you’re getting close to like 60 animals out there preying on deer within a relatively small acreage. What would you have estimated your coyote to deer ratio on that land during that time?
We’re looking at right around real close to a coyote per 10 acres. Which I don’t have an official number, but that’s right even, if not a little higher potentially, than our deer numbers.
I was gonna say it’s probably even. Like you probably couldn’t be holding more than 30, deer on that property during that time.
Yes, exactly! So it was almost a one-to-one deer-to-coyote ratio. Which is unbelievable. I didn’t even know that was possible.
It’s a bit surprising, but then again, you bring the food in and whatever eats the food is gonna come in. Because you’re talking about a whole generation of deer that gets impacted when you have that many predators in the area. You don’t get fawns because it’s nature and nature is vicious. And if you’re slow and young, you’re probably dinner.
Yes, and it’s also impactful for the older matured deer, right? One of the goals for almost any deer management plan is to let deer grow to maturity. You aren’t gonna get them to maturity very easily on small land holdings if you and your neighbor aren’t on the same page, they’re gonna shoot them anyway if they get to three and a half. But beyond that, if they get to say that five-year-old age and they have an insanely hard rut, where they run themselves down to nothing, where they’ve got zero reserves left, they burned off all the fat. Maybe they get wounded in a fight and they’re limping around, they’re worn out, and it’s in the middle of winter when the rut ends. Well, they stand a much higher likelihood of getting dragged down by a coyote because they just don’t have the strength to fight it off anymore.
Managing predators on your land can be difficult, but with research and preparation, it is an achievable goal.