Anybody worth their weight in camo has asked the question recently: Where the heck are all the deer? For as many times as that question has been asked, there are just as many answers.

The deer population is down, we all know that. Now some would ask what does down mean? Some of us who are a little older remember the good old days of the ”arm band” doe permit. That was back in the day when the deer population was very low in numbers.

Granted, the days of seeing 20 to 30 whitetail in a day like it was in the early to mid-1990s is no more, but what we have is a healthier herd and bigger bucks. So the question is still the same: Where the heck have all the deer gone?

Some hunters would argue that too many does are being taken while others would say that all the hunting land is posted. There are many more theories which all do hold some water, but one theory that is fact is the growing coyote population.

For some it seems that coyotes have become a bigger problem each year. In my humble opinion, the main threat to the whitetail in New York State and most of the northern United States is the coyote. While there are some folks who may disagree, I have witnessed first hand the impact a pack of coyotes can have on a hunting ground.

Last summer we were taken to a den that had been uncovered by some road construction. This den had everything from dog collars to cow parts, and turkey bones to deer fur, and it was right here in Chautauqua County. Like most, I have even heard stories of folks seeing coyotes in daylight hours and in fields chasing deer.

This past spring while a mature longbeard was working his way into our set-up, a young coyote came out of no where and spoiled my ambush by attempting to jump on the gobbler. Fortunately for the turkey, he was able to take flight and missed being killed twice.

This past season, I personally came across four different deer that had been devoured by coyotes.

As a rookie coyote hunter, I have been able to hunt with a few folks and have attended seminars given by some pretty successful coyote hunters. One of the first things I learned is that calling is one of the most important things about coyote hunting. Coyotes have both keen eyesight and hearing, which makes them tough to kill.

Of course, there are other factors that make up a successful coyote hunt, but calling is at the top of the list.

To help make the winter months go by faster, engage in some great conservation with your fellow hunters. I also encourage you to try hunting coyotes. They are not only fun to hunt, but also very challenging.