Land Between the Lakes
The LBL Hunt.
The 2021 LBL Hunt was another success.
Coyotes and Camaraderie
Thanks to all who helped make that happen.
In the early spring of 2002, Chet Parsons and I, were coming back from a day of hunting coyotes. We were discussing all different aspects of our sport and, as usual, planning our next outing. During our conversation, we got to talking about some of the folks that we knew via the internet, that hunted coyotes. As we talked, an idea started to formulate in my head about having a “get together” where several folks could meet at a central location and hunt coyotes. I thought it would be a great way to put some faces with names of coyote hunters, that we had met on the predator boards. I mentioned it to Chet and he liked the idea, thus the “LBL Hunt” was born.
That evening, we made a post to see if there was any interest in this particular kind of hunt. Almost immediately, we started receiving responses from people that were interested. After seeing this response, we had to go about the task of deciding where it could be held. We had to take into account the number of people that might be there, how much area would be needed for everyone to hunt without people tripping over each other, lodging, what time of year, rules and regulations, etc.
We had originally thought that the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area in Middle-Eastern Tennessee would be a good place to hold the hunt. It’s approximately 80,000 acres or roughly 40+ miles of rugged, hilly terrain with a decent population of coyotes. It was posted on the board to see what others would think about it. We had mixed reviews when, Jimmie Viniard posted that, The Land Between the Lakes located in Northwestern Tennessee/Southwestern Kentucky, would also be a good place to hold the hunt. The LBL is a National Recreation Area which consists of 170,000 acres of wild and wooly country. It is a natural peninsula located between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, which makes the boundaries very stable. No wondering if you are in the “area” or not. The LBL also had one other perk that was very attractive to us, and that was the fact that they have a “centerfire” season for coyotes in February.
It was, more or less, put to a very informal vote on the predator board, and I guess we know how that turned out. Once we had the place picked, then we had to go about the business of putting it together. Chet and I both had very little experience of putting on something like this, but it was going to be just a little informal get together anyway… right? Not hardly.
Even though you are just having an informal get together, there are still things you need to do - to make sure that those that are traveling a long distance, won’t have trouble finding such things as shelter, food, and other essentials. We also needed to find a central meeting area, so we could get to know each other a little bit while setting around the fire, which is one of the main reasons we wanted to do this from the beginning.
When Jimmie posted about the LBL, he had also offered to help put it together if need be, so we quickly enlisted his help since he lived so close to the LBL. Chet got in touch with Jimmie - a date, time and place were set for the three of us to meet. It wasn’t long, and we were off on our 200 mile jaunt to meet Jimmie at Golden Pond Visitor Center in the LBL.
That first meeting was basically just a get to know each other type meeting, and finding out some general information about the LBL. Jimmie told us about “Wrangler Campground”, which had several cabins that could house a bunch of tired coyote hunters after a long day of hunting and shooting the breeze. It also had a restaurant there - that usually wasn’t open in February. Our meeting lasted a few hours, and then it was time to head back home. We said goodbye to Jimmie, grabbed some maps at the visitor center, and then stopped by the “Dover Inn” on our way out to see what kind of accommodations they had for those that were not inclined to “rough it” quite as much as “Wrangler’s Campground” would dictate.
We continued to gather information on the LBL and surrounding areas, so as to keep everyone on the same page - as far as lodging, food, regulations, and when the hunt was going to take place, etc. We made a couple more trips to the LBL to drive the area looking for coyote sign, make ourselves more knowledgeable about the layout of the land, make deals with local motels, and locate places to get gas. You have to keep in mind that the LBL is about 60 miles long from north to south and there are no gas stations, restaurants, or anything that resembles civilization, other than a black top road going through the center of it. Getting caught on the LBL unprepared, could easily make for a miserable, if not disastrous, day.
After a few trips, several phone calls and emails to motels, local biologist, Jimmie trying to get them to open the restaurant at “Wranglers”, which they said they would, but then it fell through, talking with Jimmie, and marking our maps for places we had found sign, and places Jimmie told us about, it was finally approaching the time for the hunt.
The first weekend in February was decided, by the majority, to be when the hunt took place. The reasoning behind this was due, in part, because of all the other coyote hunters that would be showing up for the one month of centerfire season. We knew that if we waited until the second or third weekend of February, we would have coyotes that were more likely to be even more call shy than they already were.
<p.I don’t remember exactly how many guys showed up for the first hunt, but it seems like there were about twenty of us, and boy was it cold and snowy! I remember meeting Brent (Kee) Saxton, Rich (CCP) Baxter, Jeremy Lawhorn, Brian (Ilcoyote) Tuthill, Stan the Man, Red Baron, Doc, Tackdriver, WayneP, Robert (Critr Gitr) Livesay, as well as a few others whose names escape me right now. If I have forgotten or omitted your name, I apologize ahead of time. My ability to remember names seems to diminish with each passing year.
We had a tough time hunting the LBL our first time. The “crew” I was with only saw one coyote all weekend, but to our amazement - everyone else was having the same kind of luck. A grand total of one coyote was killed at the first hunt, but I did not get to see it.Chet and I both had to be at work the next day, so we left in the early afternoon on the last day of the hunt.
I don’t recall exactly how many coyotes, foxes, or bobcats were seen at this hunt, but it was a decent number. Most of us there had never hunted the LBL, so we were basically just finding likely spots and giving it a try. Not exactly an ideal way of doing it, but what else could we do? Looking at maps and driving around, while trying to hunt, doesn’t leave much of a chance for any thorough scouting.
Regardless of our success or lack thereof, I truly believe the first LBL hunt accomplished everything that had been meant for it to do. Many of us were given the chance to finally meet one another in person, instead of just being another name on a predator forum. We had a chance to talk about or see each others hunting styles and calling techniques. One of the greatest chefs of modern times, Mr. WayneP fed us his world famous chili. It was delicious! Several people were more than willing to show everyone their mouth calls, electronic callers, guns, ammo, and lots of other miscellaneous hunting equipment.
Hunting by day, sitting around the campfire at night listening to the stories, all added so much to the experience. Many of us finally had the chance, for the first time in many cases, to meet up with fellow coyote hunters and share our experiences together. Stories were told, coyotes were hunted and lifelong friendships were made. I ask you, could it have been any better than that?
By James Holbrook