This year's 4-H coyote calling contest fundraiser concluded Saturday night with resident James Rivera taking home the grand prize, a Remington 700 rifle. Tim Bishop, a local 4-H volunteer, took second place. Bishop and Pastor Dereck Owen of the First Assembly Church in Tucumcari organized the yearly event.
The Quay County Sun spoke with Bishop about the hunting contest. He discussed the event, the hunting habits of coyotes and the Tucumcari 4-H program.
This is the first year the contest has had multiple rounds, correct?
Yep. Dereck and I had been talking about this for two or three years. It actually, it's not the first time we've done one but it's the first time we've done a series hunt. Basically, what we did was have four one-day hunts for November, December, January and February. In order to win the grand prize, you had to be in each one or at least pay for each one. That way we guaranteed a fair price and we guaranteed the kids would get some money out of the deal. That's what we did it for, was 4-H and these kids.
In the coyote contest, you have to actually call for the coyotes to come to you, right?
You have to call them in. We use what they call a distress call. You can use a hand call, which you have to use your mouth and physically make the sound, or you could use an electronic call, which are allowed by the state commission. I use the mouth call. I do it for myself. I don't even own an electronic caller. They have their place, though. On real windy days the sound carries better and it's certainly a whole lot easier. You can wear yourself out by the end of the day blowing one of those hand calls.
What kind of calls do you make?
Believe it or not, well, maybe I shouldn't say this because I don't want to give away my secrets ... a woodpecker in distress is actually a really hot call in this part of the country, and we don't have any woodpeckers. It's interesting. It surprises even me and I've been doing this all of my life.
This time of the year, coyotes are pairing up, and you can howl them in too. You can make an invitation howl, and that's really hot. Sometimes you get in another coyote's territory and you can give him a challenge howl. That upsets him, tells him "Hey, somebody's in my country and I'm going to go run him out." We actually got one to come in, he just never did come in close enough where we could shoot at him.
This time of year, it really varies because, early in the season we caught a lot of pups, because they don't know any better. As the year goes on you'll call a lot of singles and females just basically cruising for a meal. This time of year, when they're paring up, you'll call multiples. In fact, we had one Saturday where we actually called four coyotes on one set. We had two pairs coming from two different directions and everything we called was in pastures where there were cows calving. We've actually sat and watched coyotes waiting on a cow to have a calf. They are that smart and I know that a lot of people don't want to believe that, but it's an absolute fact. I guess one of these days what I ought to do is take my video camera. In a year where you have a lot of coyotes, they can be hard on a calf crop.
You add the cold, and those coyotes were penned for days on end. They haven't ate for a couple of days. It can be hard on a calf crop because it's an easy meal. (Coyotes) are opportunists and it doesn't matter what the opportunity is. If it's simple and easy, they're going to do it and they're going to take the easy way out every time.
Has a coyote attacked anyone recently?
Not around here. In the east mountain areas, around Albuquerque, they've had several.
The weirdest thing I've heard, was a friend of mine was calling at Canadian, Texas, and a bobcat came up and swatted the back of his hand while he was calling. He was a government trapper for years and he was retired ... and as he was sitting there calling and all camoed up, he felt something sting him. He looked at the back of his hand and his little glove was all shredded and he thought, “Well, what in the world?” It hit him again and he turned around and there was a bobcat right there at his head. And there was another man calling coyotes down at Tucumcari one day and turned around and there was a mountain lion sitting about 30 feet away. (Coyote calls are) effective. They come to the call.
I’ve never had a time in all my life, I’ve never had anything happen where I was worried, and as a matter of fact, the biggest thing that ever happened to me where I got worried was … it’s not just coyotes that’ll come to that call. Certain times of the year, deer come to it and antelope. I had my little girl with me ... we got up to leave. There was about a dozen antelope about 30 yards from us. There was a young buck there that was getting pretty aggressive, and it took some hooping and hollering and rock throwing to get that bunch of antelope away from us so we could get back to our pickup, and that’s, that’s a very, very rare occasion. I’ve never had any fear that a coyote -- I guess anything’s possible, but more often than not when they come running in and they get up close enough that they can see, you can actually see the surprise and shock on their face and they’re like “I want out of here.” A lot of times when they come in like that, they usually get away (laughs).
What does 4-H do with the fundraiser money?
It benefits the 4-H shooting sports kids and they go to state, they get to spend a lot of time at the NRA Whittington Center. There’s no personal gain on anyone’s part that puts this on, it’s all strictly volunteer help. We had kids at the (contest) check-in, and they get to learn about it. I just can’t stress that everything we do for them 4-H shooting sports kids is for the kids. Hopefully we’ll raise a lot of kids that -- we’re giving an opportunity for kids here in town whose parents cannot afford to do this kind of sport and through the fundraising that we do and the Friends of the NRA Banquet that’s coming up the second of April, that money is for these kids and we’re able to supply them with ammunition, firearms, and we’ve given a lot of kids an opportunity that they would have never been able to have.
With that, I think it raises a lot of responsibility for the kids and maybe one of these days if they’re around someone that has a gun or something and is being unsafe with it, they can step in and say "Hey,” and they learn the right way and a lot of ethical responsibilities with the shooting sports. And not just firearms. We have archery, muzzle loaders. This year we’re going to actually be able to offer some pistols I think we’ve got three of our kids in pistols, which we haven’t had before, so it’s a great program.