Shot Risher has a great vantage point from the seat of his tractor to see just where his hay mower is cutting. Since some of his fields are quite large, it takes several minutes to make a pass. Starting at the outside and working toward the center, one of the more common sights are field mice scampering for cover.

Often they run toward the center of the field and the last remaining tall grass.

Coyotes have learned the sound of the hay mower and tractor result in easy pickings, as the mice lose their tall grass cover. The same goes for hawks and even owls. The rodents that flee into the small, wooded areas are likely to be greeted by a bobcat, coyote or even a large snake.

Life isn't easy for a field mouse at haying time.

The Pavlovian reaction of the predators has another attraction. Varmint hunters can blind in and either hunt by vigil or place a call in a strategic place and wait for the almost certain action to develop.

"I don't see them every time I go to the hayfield, but it's often enough that it's not an uncommon sight," Risher said. "I was working one night, moving some bales out of a field - it was a little cooler at night - and saw what seemed to be 15 or 20 sets of eyes in and around the field where I was working.

"It was one time I was glad I was on a tractor and not on foot."

Garrath Henry, a hay farmer near Forest in Scott County, has coyote stories as well.

"I was baling hay this summer and continued to see a coyote in the field where I was working," Henry said. "A big male came out and jumped atop a bale and lay down.

"All I had with me was my pistol, so I decided to see just how close I could get. As long as I was on the tractor and working he showed little concern. That allowed me to get close enough for an accurate shot."

Henry was allowed to shoot the coyote because it is viewed by regulators as a depredator.

"The Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks included coyotes in the list of nuisance animals that can be hunted year around," MDWFP Nuisance Animal Director Ricky Flynt. "This allows land owners or their agents the ability to remove coyotes any time there is an opportunity. The coyotes may be hunted and shot or trapped."

Hunting coyotes on private land begins with a healthy dose of hunter ethics. Obtain permission, preferably written permission. Shoot straight with the land owner. How many people will be hunting? Will you hunt at night? How you'll be responsible about his stock, fences, gates and property. Heck, invite the owner to come along.

Since most Mississippi farms are not far from other farms and buildings, know and understand where people will be in relationship to your shooting location. Check with the farmer about his dogs. Do any even remotely resemble coyotes? do they have collars? Do they roam the farm?

Could people be visiting a pond or creek to fish? Safety is the key-word of our sport, and this type of hunting requires the complete set of hunter ethics and precautions in spades.

In preparing for this article, we found the coyotes that entered the field during the actual cutting of the hay were typically young. Toward the late afternoon and just at dusk was when the greatest number of large, adult 'yotes visited the field.

Often the mice will return to the field underneath the now-cut hay. Just watching the coyotes perform their trademark rise and leap is worth the time taken to visit a field. Following its nose, a coyote will stop, rise on its back legs and pounce with the front feet together on the prey.

A call, in our case, was an electronic rodent-in-distress placed about 50 yards from the blind on the north end of the field. The plan was to wait to see if a number of coyotes appeared in the isolated field on their own or if they needed to be coaxed with a call.

The sound of the tractor returning to the barn had not faded into the late afternoon stillness when a 'yote appeared about 100 yards to the southwest. Within seconds it had surveyed the field and was hunting.

Soon anther coyote appeared, this one wearing an almost black coat. We moved the rifles onto shooting sticks, and I gave my partner the signal that I'd take the dog on the left and he the one on the right. It was prearranged that he would shoot on my report.

BA-BLAM, the two shots seemed as one, echoing from the wooded walls of the hay meadow. Two coyotes lay dead in the field.

After 30 minutes, we decided enough time had passed to allow things to settle. We mashed the remote button on the electronic caller, allowing it to produce the high-pitched squeal of an injured rodent. We couldn't hear the sound, but then two old Vietnam vets with too many rounds and unprotected ears need not be surprised at high-frequency hearing loss.

Our .223s did the job on our targets, but hunters have other options to consider when hunting in smaller fields, urban fields or at night. This is when a rim-fire rifle or shotgun may fill the bill. Center-fire rifles can also be used on private land, but caution should be paramount when bullets could travel beyond the range of the headlights beam.

Former MDWFP Wildlife Chief Larry Castle said there there seems to be two schools of thought about coyotes.

On the one hand, there are those who think they are a social wild creature with interesting habits and are of little consequence to the natural world. This train of thought paints them as a watchable, loveable critter that chases field mice through a series of leaps and dances, and maybe even lies still in the grass and marvels at butterflies.

On the other hand is the thought that they are cold-blooded, opportunistic, highly efficient killing machines with no respect for their prey, be it domestic or wild. An increasing number of coyote-human interactions points to either encroachment on their habitat or their expansion by increased numbers.

According to deer biologist and famed hunter Larry Weishun, a study at Texas A&M indicated there is a third theory that there are actually two extremes of coyotes in the wild: one that is a pure hunter that scavenges very little and prefers its meals alive and warm, and the opportunist that seeks out everything from fruit and berries to road kill before expending the energy to hunt.

The fact may be that all coyotes move between the two extremes as seasons and food supplies fluctuate.

Scat studies from Mississippi State and other entities across the country indicate an increase in scavenging activity in the fall and winter, when hunters discard deer carcasses in the woods, and a return to harvest/hunter preferences in the spring and summer. This would tend to verify the thought that the bulk of the coyote population are, in fact, opportunist.

Are coyotes a threat to deer, livestock and domestic pets? The answer again could be cyclic in nature. One coyote would have a difficult time taking a healthy adult deer. Is there any proof that a coyote will shadow a doe in mid-summer knowing she will soon drop a scentless fawn? I could find no documented evidence of this but have seen, first hand, trail-camera images with a doe passing on a trail followed within three to five minutes by a coyote.

Bob Webb, a lifelong farmer and cattleman from Scott County, has experienced problems with coyotes during calving season.

"I've seen pairs (of coyotes) hanging close to the pasture, watching the cows and calves," Webb said. "I've had a few day-old calves disappear overnight. In one calving season we lost 26 newborn and days-old calves to coyotes.

For this reason, I have a .204 Ruger handy at all times. It has dispatched numerous coyotes."

I also have seen trail-camera evidence of a fawn being carried by a coyote, and have found what appears to be deer hair in coyote scat. I feel most hunters in the woods during the summer months can vouch for the same.

"Coyotes are opportunistic feeders. Scat studies bear out this fact," Goodwin said. "Fawn deer are born with no scent, so coyotes may have a problem specifically targeting them as prey. However, should they locate a fawn there is every possibility the coyote will try to capture it."

A pack of coyotes would have little trouble killing a doe as she birthed or was weakened by other forces.

The bottom line may be that the coyotes do have an impact on deer, but not significant enough to be a detriment to the state's ballooning deer herd.

Numerous, documented cases of domestic animals being attacked, even within the city limits of Mississippi towns, is evidence coyotes have lost their fear of humans. Most often, small dogs or cats are the victims - with cases reported where the dog being attacked was on a leash being held by its owner.

"On any given night I can hear three or four clans of coyotes in the woods surrounding our house," Webb said. "We have several outside dogs that alert us to intruders. Numerous times we have seen them chase coyotes away from the yard."

Perhaps I've strayed too far from the hunting aspect of this article.

Firearms for coyote shooting can be as simple as an accurate deer rifle or as sophisticated as a long-range, heavy-barreled varmint special. The flat-shooting, high velocity calibers such as the .223, .22-250, .220 Swift and all their brothers, sisters and cousins are perfect 'yote medicine.

In conditions where bullet impact could harm livestock or buildings, a turkey gun loaded with BBs or very large shot, such as No. 4 or No. 2, will fill the bill. The coyotes just need to be called a little closer.

While haying operations are one source of coyote hunting opportunity, late summer bush hogging of food plots or the management of CRP property can provide other opportunities.

An electronic call is a perfect tool for coaxing the wily critters into the open. A bonus bobcat might also respond to the calling. These electronic calls vary in price and performance. But just how good are they?

One was so convincing the hunter shot the coyote as the animal grabbed the caller and tried to make off with it. In his haste, the shooter hit the call, destroying it before a second shot connected with the 'yote.

We used the Johnny Stewart PM-4 wireless Preymaster digital caller. It is a mid-priced caller that is battery operated and has no long speaker wires to be rolled up or untangled.

The use of a decoy, such as a shaking or jerking rabbit, will often accent the call and seal the deal. These are easy to set up while there is human activity in the hayfield. Just build a blind and set the calls while the farmers are doing their thing. Once the haying equipment is parked and the operators leave the field, there is no reason to delay before sounding the call. If coyotes are in the area they could pop-out into the field in a matter of seconds.

Be safe, know where your shots will impact, get the permission of the landowner, then have a ball sharpening your shooting skills with hayfield coyotes.