2024 SCI Convention – Glassing For Big Game

There were a number of seminars offered at the 2024 Safari Club International Convention held in Nashville. One of the more interesting was a seminar led by outdoor writer and hunter Tom Claycomb on glassing for big game. The seminar included tips on optics, caring for them, and how to use them effectively to search for game animals.

With regard to binoculars and spotting scopes, Tom said to buy quality. In the past this meant what he called the Big Three – Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski. He noted the optics world has become much more competitive and has really improved. The difference between the Big Three and the rest has really contracted. He also said to look at the warranty as a good optics company will warranty their product. Optics are hard to compare before buying as most outdoor stores rarely carry an extensive inventory of binoculars. One thing to look for when comparing optics, if possible, is to look for shadows at the edge of the image. A top quality optic will not have these shadows.

Tom noted he had moved from 8 power to 10 power binoculars. He suggested that 10×42 as a start though you could go higher. He tends to go with a compact size of binoculars. However, in the fall, he said compact and then super compact would work. He likes an elastic strap to carry his binoculars. In terms of cleaning the glass, Tom said plain water works best.

Glassing aka searching using optics will allow you to find more game. Even if the terrain looks barren, you can glass and see stuff after searching for a few minutes. Rarely will you see the whole animal but you will see either parts of it or movement. That might be as small as an ear flicking at a fly or turning to listen. Make sure not to sit on the skyline and look to break your outline. If you can see them, often they can see you.

Assuming you do spot your desired game animal, glassing will help you in planning your stalk as well as play the wind. You should pick out spots to mark as a landmark such as a patch of flowers, big trees, and the like. Glassing will also help you plan in advance how you are going to pack out an animal assuming you are successful. Often that is when the real work begins!

Finally, Tom said to have a system. Search left to right or the reverse but keep it systematic. Then overlap the field of view as you move all the way up the mountain or from near to far. Even if you are not hunting in the great expanses of the western US or the plains of Africa, searching for your game using optics will give you a better chance of success.

Craig Boddington On African Buffalo Hunting

The Complementary Spouse and I arrived in Nashville for the Safari Club International Convention at noon on the first day of the event. That put us there in time to catch Craig Boddington’s seminar on Hunting African Buffalo.

Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit on safari in 1909.

The seminar was very comprehensive and covered all six species of African buffalo, where they are found, their differences, how to hunt them, how to judge a trophy, hunting in various countries, and meat utilization. Few hunters have the breadth or depth of hunting buffalo over such a long period of time as Craig Boddington.

Look at the picture above of Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit on their famous 1909 safari in which they took 512 animals. To an uneducated eye, that looks like a good Cape buffalo and for 1909 it probably was. For today, not so great. Today it would be considered an immature bull as its boss or helmet-like covering of its horns had not hardened. However, in 1909, the rinderpest virus had wiped out much of the Cape Buffalo herd across Africa along with much of the domestic cattle. Cape buffalo were few and far between making Roosevelt’s probably as good as it got.

Buffalo are found from sub-Sahara Africa all the way to the tip of South Africa. They tend to be smaller as you go from east to west in central Africa as well as lighter in color. The Southern Cape buffalo is both the largest and most numerous of the buffalo.

According to Craig, there are six sub-species of buffalo. These include:

  • Southern Cape – Found in southern and east Africa
  • Nile – Found in Uganda and Sudan
  • Central African Savannah – Found in Cameroon and Central African Republic
  • West African Savannah – Found in Benin and Burkina Faso
  • East African Savannah – Found in Ethiopia
  • Dwarf Forest – Found in Cameroon, Congo, and Liberia

Craig then went on to detail country by country what to expect in terms of size and number as well as how they are usually hunted. Given he has hunted buffalo for almost 50 years and they are his favorite African animal to hunt, he can speak from experience about hunting in all of these countries.

Southern Cape Buffalo By Country


While the Cape Buffalo found in Botswana are big, they have a quota limit. This is because the overpopulation of elephants has had a negative impact on habitat for all other species.


In the north, it is a tracking hunt with lots of glassing. You are looking for white Cattle Egrets as they a tip-off to the presence of Cape Buffalo. The north has big herds that can be two miles wide by six buffalo deep. You will also be doing a lot of swamp hunting where you will either be wading or using an amphibious vehicle like an Argo. This is true of coastal area where the bulls are not as numerous but still good.


Most of the country is too dry to produce the grasses needed as feed by the Cape Buffalo. Hunting is primarily in the Caprivi Strip and the Waterberg Reserve north of Windhoek. Namibia has a small quota for buffalo, the herds have good genetics, and hunting there is more expensive due to the limited numbers. Most buffalo are found as they are coming in and out of national parks.

South Africa

The country initially had low numbers of Cape Buffalo. However, breeding has pushed the supply and disease resistance. Breeding has also resulted in good genetics. It is the least expensive place to hunt for Cape Buffalo. As with most hunting in South Africa, it is not genuinely free-range as regulations force high fencing between wild and domestic animals. Craig noted that despite the fencing it is not an easy hunt. The bulls know every nook and corner of their 5-10,000 acres and can disappear in a heartbeat.

Hunting for buffalo in South Africa tends to be a stalking hunt. You are often dealing dense brush in the bushveldt. Buffalo here tend to be more aggressive and more likely to charge.


It is a classic, tracking hunt in Tanzania. Craig noted it was expensive but the hunting was great. Much of the hunting is a what he termed “park boundary hunts” where you are waiting for buffalo to leave the reserves. The keys for buffalo hunting here are grass and water. They need both. Craig’s all-time best buffalo was taken in the Masailand area of Tanzania.


Zambia is a sleeper according to Craig. While more expensive than Zimbabwe, it has very good hunting. Tracking is the method of choice here.


There is good buffalo hunting in Zimbabwe with large herds. The bulls are not monsters when it comes to size. It is, however, very good for duggaboys or older bachelor bulls. You have classic tracking hunting here with thick cover. The herds are primarily found in the periphery areas of Zimbabwe.

Other Sub-species Of Buffalo Discussed

Nile Buffalo

The Nile sub-species is most prevalent in Uganda. It is smaller than the Southern Cape Buffalo and tends to reddish-brown in coloration as opposed to the black of the Southern Cape. Their horns tend to be flatter and don’t drop below the jaw line.

Most of Uganda lies within the Nile drainage but it is in the Karamoja region of the north where the Nile buffalo is concentrated. It consists of acacia forests surrounded by large mountains.

Central African Savannah Buffalo

These buffalo tend to be more red. Their horns are smaller and their horns go up, not out. They are found primarily in Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

West African Savannah Buffalo

Even redder than the Central African Savanna Buffalo, they are about one-third smaller than their Central African cousins. They not only have smaller bodies but smaller horns as well. They are found in Benin and Burkina Faso.

Dwarf Forest Buffalo

These, as the name implies, are the smallest of the African buffalo. Found in Congo, Cameroon, and Liberia they weigh about 600 pounds or so. He noted this is a tough hunt because you are hunting in a rain forest. Their coloration is a reddish brown and their horns curl up much like a water buffalo.

Hunting Techniques and Tips


Tracking is the classic method of hunting buffalo in Africa. Most PHs will have a dedicated tracker whose job is to pick up the trail of the buffalo. Craig said to keep an eye on your tracker as his behavior will tell you if you are getting close. He also said to keep an eye out for birds especially in Mozambique. These will be either oxpeckers or white Cattle Egrets. In that case you will be doing “spot and stalk” to get into position to shoot a buffalo.

Shooting & Shot Placement

The average shot distance on a buffalo in Africa is 70 yards. As such, if you are using an optic, you do not need a lot of magnification. Craig said scopes in the 1.5-5x, 1-8x, 2-7x, and the very common 3-9x are all you need. You should also keep it at the minimum magnification and only go up if needed. Craig said the longest shot he ever took on a buffalo was 160 yards.

You will need a tough bullet such as the Swift A-Frame, the Nosler Partitions, the Barnes monometal TSX/TTSX, or the Hornady bonded DGX. Solids are also an option. However, if the buffalo is in a herd, avoid monometal bullets (Barnes) as well as solids. Stick with a good bonded bullet. You don’t want the bullet to go through one buffalo and then wound another. That can be costly in more ways than one.

In terms of shot placement, it should be about one-third of the way up the shoulder if the buffalo is quartering or broadside. The big mistake is to shoot too high. Frontal shots are common. If all you can see is the front two legs, then center the shot. Do not shoot to the sides. You should always take that second shot as buffalo are tough and you don’t want to be tracking a wounded one if you can help it.

Given buffalo are generally herd animals, make sure you and your PH are looking at the same buffalo.

Evaluating Trophies

The trophy bull will have a hard boss. That is the thick, helmet-like growth at the base of its horns. There should be no hair on the boss which would indicate a younger animal. The hard boss is the mark of a mature bull. The boss only starts to harden at 9-10 years old and the bull is then ready to compete for breeding rights. He may only have one year of breeding before he is forced out by a new bull. The average age for a trophy bull is 12-13 years old.

This is a case where you need to pay attention to your PH. He will be experienced in evaluating the age of a bull and its trophy quality. If there is any doubt, don’t shoot!

Danger Factor

A wounded bull can charge. Thus, you need to make sure of your shot. Buffalo in South Africa seem more likely to charge than elsewhere which might be due to a smaller range caused by high fences.

Jokingly, Craig said not to read too many Peter Hathaway Capstick stories. That said, the “dead one’s” will kill you. Hunters, PHs, trackers, and others have been killed by buffalo and especially wounded buffalo.

When approaching a downed buffalo, approach from behind and be ready to put a finishing shot in its spine. I have heard this not only from Craig but just this week on a podcast with Dr. Kevin “Doctari” Robertson who was both a veterinarian and a former PH.

Meat Recovery

The meat from a buffalo is never wasted. It will often go to local village especially in areas like Mozambique. Alternatively, it is shared with local schools or orphanages with some retained by the outfitter for feeding the guests.

The Book

I tried to get a copy of Craig’s book, Buffalo II, at his booth. Unfortunately, they were sold out. The deluxe limited edition is still available on his website along with some of his other books and his DVDs. I bought my copy of Buffalo II! on Amazon. Here is a link. If you ever think you might want to hunt African buffalo, this is must reading. Even if you just want to dream about it, I suggest getting the book while it is still available. Safari Press was sold late last year to large publisher Rowan and Littlefield. Large presses like that are less likely to keep older books on their list.

A Successful Hunt

What makes a successful hunt? Is it when you get a bag limit of birds? Or is it when you finally get that buck you have been watching for a year on a trail cam? It could be watching your son or daughter get their first deer.

There are many ways to define what makes a hunt successful. They will all be different for each individual and they are all valid.

“The Honeyhole”

I went hunting for the first time this season on Friday afternoon. Bow season in North Carolina opened on September 10th and this was my first chance to get out. I was invited by my daughter’s neighbor Zack to hunt some private land where he had set up a number of blinds as well as food plots. He graciously set me up in “the Honeyhole” where I had taken a 5-pointer last year. No shot would be longer than 50 yards and that post you can see in the middle is right at 25 yards.

While Zack got a doe where he was hunting, not one deer appeared where I was hunting. I had covered myself with Nose Jammer and set out discs with Ever Calm calming scent on them. Nonetheless, they just didn’t move.

Was my hunt unsuccessful? In the sense that I didn’t bag a deer, yes. However, in the greater scheme of things it was a successful hunt. I got to sit out in nature and enjoy the quiet. While I did hear road noise from nearby roads, I also heard the birds sing while they scratched around the ground looking for food. I didn’t have to answer phone calls or worry about answering emails. I could just relax.

I repeated this on Saturday morning on land inherited by the Complementary Spouse. I had built a blind last year using wood pallets, scrap wood, mis-mixed paint, and remnants of camo cloth. It is kind of rough and the particle board flooring is a little wonky. I set it back in the edge of the woods by a right of way. In the past, I had captured many photos of deer on trail cams as they used it as a path.

A couple of weeks ago I set out some deer minerals in the same location where I had made a mineral lick the year before. I got in the blind about a half hour before dawn and got set up. You can see my view of that area in the picture below. Just beyond that tree in the middle of the picture is a shallow, slow-moving, creek.

If you guessed that I was skunked again, you would be correct. Nonetheless, I considered this a successful hunt. I saw a Great Blue Heron fly up from the creek, I heard multiple woodpeckers go to work on the trees behind me, I heard the other birds singing around me, and I enjoyed the cool, quiet morning while I sat quietly hoping a deer would cross my path.

Would I have liked to have taken a deer either day? You bet. I am starting to run low on venison in the freezer and would like to have filled it with a nice fat doe. That said, I ended both days with what I considered a successful hunt. Hunting is like life. It is all in what you make of it.

As a postscript, Zack’s 10-year old son took a very nice 8-point buck last night on the private land where I hunted on Friday afternoon and evening. Father and son had a successful hunt.

Tips For First Time African Hunters

One of the projects I set for myself when I attended the Dallas Safari Club Convention was to seek tips and advice for those hunting Africa for the first time. I spoke to professional hunters (PHs) and other experts for their advice. My question to them was what would be the one tip that you would give a person planning to hunt Africa for the first time.

Here is what I got in no particular order.

Dylan Love Huntershill Safaris, South Africa, and the PH Journal Podcast. (He has a must listen to podcast)

  • Do your research on potential outfitters and especially check out their social media. It will be the most up to date.
  • Let the outfitters handle the finer details.

Craig Boddington – author, hunter, and TV show host.

  • Listen to your PH!

Rob LurieZimbabwe Professional Hunters and Game Association. They have the toughest standards for licensing in Africa.

  • Do your homework!
  • Ponder all you options.
  • Ask for recent references.

Japsie Blaauw – Dzombo Hunting Safaris, Namibia and Botswana.

  • Practice shooting off of sticks.

Marius Goesen KMG Safaris, South Africa

  • Trust your PH
  • Don’t overpack. You won’t need more than 3 sets of clothes as you have daily laundry.

Philip Weyer- HendersonMuller Hunting and Safaris, South Africa

  • Take good, broken-in boots

Russ FieldRuss Field Safaris, South Africa

  • Go for at least 10 days
  • Pack light
  • Use the camp rental guns. Your own guns will just be a hassle.

Alex OelofseJan Oelofse Hunting Safaris, Namibia

  • Plan a few extra days to see wildlife like elephants and lions if not on the hunting property
  • Ask the outfitter whether you will be hunting all on one block of property or will you travel to another block. If another block, ask how far.
  • Be wary of outfitters and PHs “overselling” size of the animals.

I think these are all good tips. I probably would have gotten more tips from more outfitters if I always remembered to ask when I visiting a booth. My bad.

Today I Learned…

Today I learned, by reading academic literature, that by engaging in trophy hunting or merely desiring to do so, I am:

  • Engaging in male supremacy by seeking a trophy of my “conquest”
  • Taking part in an ongoing rehearsal of Western imperialist history
  • Seeking to subjugate and conquer “subhuman” (their words) indigenous peoples
  • Partaking in perpetuating the racist and sexual norms of oppression and social exclusion
  • A human supremacist
  • Not a conservationist
  • Alarming and social reprehensible
  • Violating the dignity of nonhuman animals
  • Entrenching my Western narrative of supremacy which is underpinned by my chauvinistic, colonialist and crudely utilitarian anthropocentric attitude.

​Who would have thought I was “guilty” of all of that just for wanting to go on a once-in-a-lifetime hunting trip to Africa.

Evidently, that is the opinion of Dr. Chelsea Batavia, a postdoc fellow in the Dept of Forest Ecosystems and Society, at Oregon State University

The paper, The Elephant (Head) in the Room, can be found here.

This same lead author also thinks tsetse fly eradication is not ethically justified. This is despite almost 70 million Africans who are at risk for sleeping sickness. The disease, by the way, is fatal without treatment.

Batavia was also one of the star’s of the anti-hunting Humane Society of the US’s YouTube diatribe on trophy hunting.

At Academia.edu, I subscribe to be notified of articles about wildlife conservation, Africa, and trophy hunting. Most articles are much different but I do find it instructive to know what is going on in academia as they are teaching (supposedly) the next generation of wildlife biologists.

Trophy Hunting Helps African Animal Populations

The British publication The Economist just produced a very interesting video on trophy hunting in Namibia. It makes the point that hunters and their money pays for conservation, provides meat to local communities, and provides an economic incentive to stop poaching and overgrazing.

You may not agree with trophy hunting and that is your right. However, bans on trophy imports, public shaming of hunters, and calls for banning it outright will eventually lead to the extinction of many species. Putting an economic value on wild animals, regulated hunting, and hunter-funded anti-poaching efforts have been shown to work.

Dallas Safari Club Celebrates 40 Years

The Dallas Safari Club will be celebrating their 40th anniversary in January with the DSC Convention. The convention will be held January 6-9 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

In preparation for this event, they have released a short video showing their progress since 1982.

I have never been to a convention like this and hope to attend in January. My dream is to do a plains game hunt in either Namibia or South Africa in 2023. I grew up reading Hemingway and Ruark. While a two month safari in Kenya aka British East Africa is a thing of the past, a plains game hunt is not and actually can be cheaper than an elk hunt in Colorado.

Industry Consolidation And Homogenization

Jim Shepherd, publisher of the Outdoor Wires, is at the Archery Trade Association show this week in Louisville, Kentucky. He made this observation about consolidation within the archery and hunting industries. He points out that it is not only those industries who are consolidating but it is widespread across the fishing, hunting, shooting, and outdoor industries.

Some news releases we’ve distributed this week have again pointed out something that isn’t unique to archery -consolidation is happening across the industry.

From nutritional supplements to tree stands, scents and broadheads, archery is seeing to the absorption of smaller companies into larger ones.

For many small businesses, it’s a matter of survival. The business climate’s tough right now, and if you’re a company with little capitalization and no margin of error, adding your niched products into a larger operation makes sense. These businesses began because their owners were passionate about the sport, and saw a real need for a product that wasn’t there. With very few exceptions, a single-product or limited-product business isn’t viable.

That’s the part of consolidation that concerns me most.

Large companies with fixed operating costs look at new products differently that an entrepreneur who’s willing to bootstrap a good product to market.

If potential sales volumes or margin are in question, most big companies tend to take a pass on the concept. That number-centric approach doesn’t encourage innovation.

When innovation dies, homogenization is the best possible outcome.

And homogenization doesn’t drive participation. Nothing other than oxygen appeals to everyone.

So while we’re looking at the latest-and-greatest from the major players, we’ll be prowling the smaller exhibits looking for those undiscovered innovators. We want to encourage them.

I wholeheartedly agree with Jim – the little guys can come up with the innovative stuff that is really interesting. Moreover, new cool stuff is what pulls people in and that applies to both the old and young.

 This is why I try to spend at least a day and a half at SHOT Show looking around the lower level which is where the new and younger companies usually end up.

North Carolina Offers Turkey Hunting Seminars

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in conjunction with the National Wild Turkey Federation will be offering free turkey hunting seminars across the state in March. It is intended for both beginners and advanced hunters in advance of the spring turkey season.

As an aside, have you ever noticed how many turkeys you see within urban areas and in the city limits when turkey season starts?

More details and locations from the NCWRC below:

RALEIGH, N.C. (Jan. 30, 2017) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, is offering 14 free turkey hunting seminars across the state in March.

The seminars, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., are open on a first-come, first-serve basis to all ages and skill levels, although participants 16 years and younger will need parental permission to register. Pre-registration is required and participants must register online.

Among the topics that will be covered during the seminars are biology, hunting methods, calls and decoys, firearms and ammo tips, camouflage clothing, and turkey processing and cooking techniques. A question-and-answer session, along with a brief overview of hunter recruitment, retention and re-activation (R3) initiatives, will conclude each seminar.

Dates and locations are:

March 1

Pitt County Extension Center, Pitt County
403 Government Circle, Suite 2, Greenville, NC 27834
GPS Coordinates: (35.638284, -77.360689)

March 2

N.C. State University Engineering Building II (EBII), Wake County
Classroom 1025
3114 Engineering Building II
890 Oval Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606
GPS coordinates: (35.772173, -78.674353)

March 7

Pasquotank County Extension Center, Pasquotank County
1209 McPherson Street, Elizabeth City, NC 27909
GPS Coordinates: (36.298477, -76.235738)

March 8

Onslow County Extension Center, Onslow County
4024 Richlands Hwy., Jacksonville, NC 28540
GPS Coordinates: (34.781641, -77.494023)

March 9

Craven County Extension Center, Craven County
300 Industrial Drive, New Bern, NC 28562
GPS Coordinates: (35.142969, -77.158907)

March 14

Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center, Buncombe County
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759
GPS Coordinates: (35.424879, -82.560748)

March 15

Cumberland County Extension Center, Cumberland County
301 East Mountain Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28306
GPS Coordinates: (35.012639, -78.893928)

March 16

Bass Pro Shops, Cabarrus County
8181 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord, NC 28027
GPS Coordinates: (35.367147, -80.718964)

March 21

Brunswick County Extension Center, BLDG. N, Brunswick County
25 Referendum Drive, Bolivia, NC 28422
GPS Coordinates: (34.056713, -78.165797)

March 22

Haywood Community College, Haywood County
185 Freedlander Drive, Clyde, NC 28721
GPS Coordinates: (35.525949, -82.927936)

March 23

Caldwell County Extension Center, Caldwell County
120 Hospital Avenue NE/Suite 1, Lenoir NC 28645
GPS Coordinates: (35.922477, -81.523500)

March 28

Catawba County Extension Center, Catawba County
1175 South Brady Avenue, Newton NC 28658
GPS Coordinates: (35.647028, -81.223360)

March 29

Forsyth County Extension Center, Forsyth County
1450 Fairchild Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27105
GPS Coordinates: (36.128816, -80.225864)

March 30

Guilford County Extension Center, Guilford County
3309 Burlington Road, Greensboro, NC 27405
GPS coordinates: (36.084624, -79.738867)

“This is the third year the Wildlife Commission and the National Wild Turkey Federation have offered these expanded, statewide seminars prior to the start of the spring gobbler season and they have been very popular with both novice and experienced turkey hunters,” said Walter “Deet” James, the Wildlife Commission’s hunting heritage biologist. “New for 2017, we have combined both introduction and advanced segments into one seminar thereby eliminating redundancy and the need to attend multiple seminars. In short, we will continue to improve the cooperative seminar series based on conservation partner and attendee feedback.”

The statewide season for male or bearded turkey only is April 8 through May 6, with a youth-only week from April 1-7. Regulations and restrictions on turkey hunting, including information on youth season, are available in the 2016-17 Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest.

For additional information, contact James at 919-707-0059; mobile, 984-202-1387 or hunting.heritage@ncwildlife.org.

Visit www.ncwildlife.org/hunting and click on the “What to Hunt” link for information about wild turkeys in North Carolina.

Coyote Hunting Banned In Five North Carolina Counties

US District Court Judge Terence Boyle has granted a preliminary injunction that will ban coyote hunting in five eastern North Carolina counties. The Red Wolf Coalition brought suit to stop coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf restoration area. The counties involved are Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Washington, and Beaufort counties. The US Fish and Wildlife Service began the reintroduction of the red wolf in 1987 in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The red wolf was declared endangered in 1973. The USFWS estimates that there are now about 100 red wolves in this area of eastern North Carolina.

The red wolf is smaller than the gray or timber wolf and larger than a coyote. Its coloration isn’t the red of a red fox but rather it has a brown or buff colored coat with some reddish fur around its ears, legs, and head. And therein lies the problem. It can be mistaken for a coyote. Moreover, there has been some interbreeding between coyotes and the red wolf though the USFWS is trying to stop this by sterilizing coyotes. Pictures of both critters are below:

Coyote – picture from NCSportsman.com
Red wolf – picture from AWI

In his ruling, Judge Boyle granted the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s request to dismiss the suit against them as it violated the state’s sovereign immunity. However, he let it continue against the director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as he was not protected by legislative immunity. The decision to expand coyote hunting a few years ago was considered an administrative and executive action.

From the ruling:

Hunting coyotes pursuant to 15A NCAC 10B.0219 in the five-county red wolf recovery
area is hereby preliminarily ENJOINED. Entry of this preliminary injunction on coyote hunting
will support the exclusion of coyotes in the five-county red wolf recovery area by promoting
breeding pairs of red wolves which, in conjunction with sterile placeholder coyotes, appear to
effect a better deterrent to the increase in coyote population than an increase in coyote hunting
deaths would. A further intended benefit of this preliminary injunction is both the preservation
and enhancement of the red wolf and deer populations in this area.

The Court is not inclined, however, to provide greater protection to the coyote than that
which is applicable to the red wolf. Therefore, during the pendency of the preliminary
injunction, the following exceptions apply to the prohibition on coyote hunting in the five-county
red wolf recovery area: a coyote may be shot in defense of a person’s safety or the safety of
others, or if livestock or pets are threatened. Each exception shall apply subject to reporting of
such shooting to defendants within twenty-four hours, and defendants shall maintain a record of
reports of coyote shootings for review by the Court. This injunction is not applicable to the
activities of scientists and researchers associated with USFWS and the Commission, nor does it
have any effect on the trapping of coyotes.

Further, this preliminary injunction shall not remain in effect without review for the
entirety of the duration of this lawsuit. As the evidence and data are further developed in this
matter, the Court shall revisit the efficacy and necessity of this preliminary injunction one
hundred and eighty (180) days following the date of entry of this order.

The Wildlife Resources Commission and its board members are considering their options. In the meantime, the WRC has issued the following release outlining what is and isn’t permitted in terms of coyote hunting in the state of North Carolina as well as in the impacted counties.

From the WRC release:

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 16, 2014) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is notifying the public that a U.S. District Judge has issued a court order prohibiting hunting of coyotes in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties, day or night, except under extremely limited circumstances. This notification is due to a lawsuit in which the Wildlife Resources Commission is alleged to have violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in those counties where a non-essential experimental reintroduction of the red wolf is occurring.

In North Carolina’s other 95 counties, coyote hunting regulations allow coyote hunting on private land at any time, day or night, with no bag limit, and on public land at night with a permit.

The Wildlife Commission and the N. C. General Assembly through its House Select Committee on Nuisance Coyote Removal implemented tools to provide North Carolinians the ability to manage coyote predation on livestock, pets and native wildlife through hunting and trapping. These lethal removal methods provide the best means of removing offending animals while instilling fear of humans in other coyotes in the immediate vicinity. Hunting at night is often more effective than during the daytime because coyotes are often more active during nighttime hours.

Coyote distribution in North Carolina has sharply increased since the mid-1980s when coyote occurrences were documented in fewer than a dozen counties. Coyotes are now well established throughout North Carolina, occurring in all 100 counties. Estimates of coyotes harvested by hunters and trappers also indicate dramatic increases in abundance. For example, statewide estimated coyote harvest by hunting exceeded 27,000 coyotes in the 2012-13 season and estimated coyote harvest by trapping has increased 26-fold in the last decade.

The court order affecting the five counties allows that coyotes may be shot in defense of a person’s safety or the safety of others, or if livestock or pets are threatened. In accordance with the order, any coyotes shot under these circumstances must be reported to the Wildlife Commission within 24 hours. To report a coyote kill persons may call 1-800-662-7137. Landowners needing assistance with other coyote problems in the five counties affected by the court order may contact the Wildlife Commission at the same number.

In issuing the order, the U.S. District Judge stated that he would revisit his ruling in six months pending the outcome of a lawsuit that seeks to end coyote hunting permanently in the five counties.

“The Commission is deeply concerned about potential impacts to private landowners, hunters and native wildlife resulting from this order,” said Jim Cogdell, chairman of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The board of the Wildlife Resources Commission will meet next week to consider other legal and procedural steps regarding the judge’s order. Interested parties may visit www.ncwildlife.org for information and updates.

The same group of plaintiffs had filed a suit in 2012 to stop coyote hunting in the five county area. They were able to get an injunction in Wake County Superior Court to temporarily halt hunting while a temporary rule from the WRC was in effect. Once the permanent rule was adopted, the injunction was lifted.