In this season’s case, it’s the biped being hunted by the quadruped.
Although opened since last October, the predator hunting season, when red and grey fox, and coyotes are legal quarry, really comes into its own during special permit season that got underway January 1 and continues through March 15.
The $2 permit gives one the opportunity to hunt not only with a bow, shotgun, or rifle (muzzleloader with a .44 caliber minimum, a centerfire rifle (.17-25 caliber/maximum 80-grain soft point or hollow-point bullets, or a .17-22 caliber rimfire rifle with a 50-grain maximum payload) but also to hunt at night.
Night hunting (half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise) is limited to 10 and 12 gauge shotguns a 20 gauge can be used when daytime hunting), with pellet sizes restricted from Nos. 4 to T. A decoy(s) is allowed, but fake only...nothing alive! Baiting is also forbidden. See page 57 in the 2021-22 Hunting & Trapping Digest for more particulars.
To be sure, pursuing predators, either day or night, is one of the most challenging of hunts The few times we’ve had cracks at a ‘yote or a fox have been during the six-day shotgun “buck” week. Never connected, and the way they suddenly appear then disappear is amazing. One nighttime hunting opportunity we shared with Ron Jones from ACP Rednecks Pride Game Calls & Outdoor Scents based in Monroeville, NJ resulted in some wild vocal exchanges with a couple of agitated but hyper-cautious red foxes that, for one reason or another, refused to commit and emerge from the heavy thickets bordering a pond then make a play for a wildly crazy gyrating decoy. We never caught a glimpse of the quarry, but the sounds were enough to make our hair stand on end, especially realizing that we were the ones being hunted.
Said Jonesy afterward, “And if you think foxes are tough, well, coyotes can make them look silly.” This certainly re-affirmed the opinions we’ve heard over the years that a coyote especially can prove a tougher quarry than a racker whitetail.
Should one be fortunate enough to nail a coyote, the harvest must be reported by calling 855-4886865 or via computer or cell phone with internet to www.NJ.WildlifeLicense.com. Should a grey fox be taken, reporting is encouraged, but not mandatory.
Coyotes are abundant throughout the Garden State, and they prey heavily on fawns and no doubt drag down an adult deer on occasion. No doubt they can have a negative impact on local herds. Turkeys, both adults, and poults are also preyed upon, as are rabbits and squirrels.
Foxes? The latter pair above as well as ground-nesting birds, their eggs and chicks, including ducks. We once observed a big cherry red making a play for a gosling that wandered away from its siblings along the bank of a river we were fishing, but the gander stormed in just in time. That would have been a fur ‘n feather flying scenario for sure.