As the winter snow piles up across the Northeast, I worry about the deer herds. How are they handling seven feet of snow? Most of all, how are they fending off coyotes that see them as sitting ducks? For decades, the main problem for whitetail deer has been overpopulation, but not anymore. Predators are a significant threat to our deer hunting opportunities, and coyotes aren’t the only deer-eater we need to worry about. This post from North American Whitetail covers the situation splendidly.

Coyotes not only prey on winter whitetails, but kill every fawn they can catch.
Coyotes not only prey on winter whitetails, but kill every fawn they can catch.

Sunken into the dry, dusty brush and grass filling the gaps between rocky outcrops, I surveyed the draw — almost a canyon — through my rifle scope. “Ready,” I whispered to my hunting partner, satisfied with my line of sight in several directions.

Eagle Head Outfitters owner and southeast Kansas native Josh Hedges hit a button on his electronic predator call and twisted the volume knob. The painful wailing of a whitetail fawn in distress flooded the silence, echoing against the opposite side of the draw and racing up and down its length. And then, silence.

Several seconds later Josh again worked the controls, and this time a mix of coyote yips and barks and howls resonated across the landscape.

As if on cue, a flash of movement in the draw broke the inertia. I watched as a dozen whitetails busted out of the thick cover heading somewhere, anywhere, but there. I scanned up and down the draw, searching for the cause of their distress, but found none. I concluded the very sound of a coyote killing a fawn had sparked such an urgent need to flee in these whitetails that they would expose themselves in full daylight.

As the doe group disappeared into another canyon, it was difficult to ignore the thought that this was an all-too-familiar occurrence for whitetails in Kansas. Or, for that matter, in the eastern U.S., where coyotes — once a rarity — have taken a foothold on the land and quite literally a bite out of the whitetail herd.