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An Outdoorsman's Journal

Two nights with the crew from Night Ops


March 25, 2020

Hello friends,

One of the coolest parts of my job as an outdoor adventure writer is the all of the very interesting people that I meet. A couple of months ago Brian Ball who lives near Waupaca with his wife Sharon and their yellow lab “Dux” reached out to me and invited me on a night-time coyote hunt.

Brian and his long-time friends Jeff Leitner and Tom Hoinacki also of Waupun run “Night Ops Coyote Control.” What these guys do requires brains, physical endurance, patience, the ability to pull into a hunting location with your lights off and not getting too caught up with your bullet not hitting the “yote” if that should happen.

Friday, March 13

High 41, low 23

As I said, today would be my first real experience around these guys and it was interesting and pleasant. First, I drove to the Ball’s cabin near Waupun which Brian and Sharon built from the ground up, including the doors.

Next I learned about Heroes Hunt For Veteran’s which Brian is the Founder and Chairman of and is one extremely active organization. In a nutshell, at the Balls property, WHFR has set up a permanent hunting camp. In the fall, for 14-weekends in a row they take a group of either two or three vets bowhunting and the local community really helps in a big way (more on that in another story).

Next, Brian has a Daniel Defense M4 AR15 with an ATN X-2, night vision scope set up on it and I got to shoot it. About all I can say is that I could have, would have, put the left eyeball out of Osama Bin Laden at 400-yards with that rig.

I fired two rounds, hit the bullseye both times and was amazed.

One of the biggest things of being part of the Night Ops team is speaking with lots of landowners, guns going off on their property in the dark require permission and notice. We spoke with landowners in both Fond du Lac and Dodge County and here are common reasons they want some coyotes killed. Soon the calving season will begin, coyotes love to kill young calves when they are vulnerable. Next the fawn season will begin, many fawn die to coyotes as well as adult deer. The other reason is that coyotes also find dogs very tasty, especially small ones.

Back to the hunt, I am an observer Jeff and Tom are on one side of a wooded fence line and Brian and I are on the other with maybe 100-yards between us. Everything is planned out with the wind, these guys have put a whacking on over 90 coyotes in the last three winters, and have some incredible stories of cold conditions, fatigue, messing up, and a lot of success.

So, everyone is either looking through a night vision scope, a thermal scope, or a thermal scanner “monocular.” All the rifles are resting on tripods.

Brian sets out the Fox Pro 499 which is a top of the line call and it is located about 80-yards up wind of us. Within seconds a coyote howls back after Brian puts out a call imitating a passive female. I can see very little but enjoy the show. Brian spots one and long story short it lives to hunt another day.

On our next set up the guys let me watch through one of their thermal scanners and it was just nuts.

Before we let out the first holler on the call, we could see 6-deer and 8-raccoon scavenging in a last year’s soybean field. I was told to watch what was going to happen once the call was activated. The deer headed for the forest and the coon went to the closest trees.

Folks for two nights we put in big hours all over this part of the world and was I ever impressed with the lay of the land here. Fence lines that are tree lined and 40-feet wide, deer everywhere, always the sound of geese, next to no human activity after dark.

All of us are in the same age bracket “tag end of 5 centuries,” and the hiking, patience, dealing with the cold wind, and a positive attitude were always apparent.

These guys sell their hides, but Brian also has a vision of making a blanket for his bed out of them and I have to tell you, I was impressed with everything about Night Ops!



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