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Hooks & Antlers column: ‘Master Wolfer’ chronicles Strader’s career

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Gary Strader’s passion for the outdoors began in his youth when he and Dick Barkley took to the woods in pursuit of game for the dinner table, and that early life passion evolved into a 40-year career as a predator control agent for the Lisbon native.

Strader’s career has taken him to states such as New York, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico, where he currently lives, and that career has earned him the title of “Master Wolfer.”

Strader shares the knowledge he has gained from pursuing coyotes for more than 40 years in his book entitled “Master Wolfer.”

Subtitled “Reveals a Lifetime of Coyote Knowledge,” the book presents insightful information on coyote behavior, trapping coyotes and calling coyotes.

I particularly enjoyed the 15-page chapter on coyote behavior because I have a strong interest in learning the ways of wild creatures.

Individuals seeking knowledge on trapping coyotes will find information on equipment, trap preparation, human scent, location, trap placement, types of sets, winter trapping, and non-target catches.

Because of a conviction that coyotes prey on area deer populations, more local hunters have taken up coyote hunting. Those individuals will find useful information in the chapter related to calling coyotes, and that chapter covers such topics as equipment, training dogs, hunting with dogs, and lures and baits.

Coyotes Are Team Hunters

Strader’s career of pursuing coyotes has allowed him to see things that most hunters would never witness. One thing that Strader has observed is how coyotes hunt as a team, and here are three incidents that he relates in his book.

“Coyotes are efficient at killing big game animals and not just fawns. One time I saw three coyotes chasing a mule deer doe. They started chasing her, and after while two of the three quit and circled back. One coyote kept up the chase, and the deer kept running in a big circle with the coyote behind her. They got back to a mile from where the chase started when all of a sudden up pops the two coyotes that quit the chase earlier. They killed that deer in 500 yards because she ran out of gas, and the coyotes were rested. They do hunt as a team enabling them to kill big game.

“Another time I was calling coyotes on a big sheep operation, and a pair of coyotes howled back to my siren, which I use to locate coyotes. I got my dogs and walked in quite a way to get set up. I started glassing and saw a coyote acting strangely. Then I saw a doe antelope start to chase the coyote. That antelope would chase the coyote and stop.

“When the antelope would stop, the coyote would come back and chase her again. This went on for a few minutes. Then I saw some movement a few hundred yards to the west where the antelope had started chasing the coyote. That movement was another coyote, and it had an antelope fawn in its mouth. These two coyotes were hunting as a team. One coyote kept the doe occupied while the second coyote hunted until it found the fawn.

“Coyotes will depredate lambs being watched by guard dogs. One coyote will distract the guard dogs and get the guard dogs to chase him. The coyote will bark and tease the dogs, and they will chase him away while other coyotes move in to kill lambs.”

Book Availability

Copies of the 85-page “Master Wolfer” are available at Gray’s Gun Shop in Lisbon or by contacting Dave Strader, the author’s brother, at (315) 713-4104.

Coydogs

Some individuals refer to area coyotes as coydogs, crosses between dogs and coyotes, but such references are likely invalid according to the Peterson field guide entitled “Mammals of North America.”

According to the Peterson guide, such crosses are possible and can result in viable offspring, but most pups die early.

The guide further notes that a close analysis of 200 animals suspected to be coydogs showed that most were either dogs or coyotes, and only a few were hybrids.

The book also notes that the reproductive cycles of the two species are somewhat incompatible because male coyotes seldom mate with female dog and, while female coyotes can mate with male dogs, the female coyotes are left to raise the pups alone that translates to poor pup survival.

Outdoors Calendar

Friday-Sunday: Great Outdoor Family Expo at Watertown Fairgrounds YMCA.

March 24: Borderline Longbeards Chapter of NWTF hosts 13th Annual Fund Raising Banquet (769-8028).

March 26: SLC Fisheries Advisory Board meets at Canton BOCES at 7 p.m.

March 31: Crow season closes in NYS.

March 31: Coyote hunting season closes in NYS.

April 1: Trout season opens on NYS waters.

April 6: Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce hosts Sportman’s Show at Golden Dome.

April 13-14: Massena R&G Club hosts annual Sportsmen’s Expo.

May 4: St. Lawrence River Walleye Association hosts Opening Day Derby (384-3450).

May 4: St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club hosts annual Opening Day Walleye Derby.

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