2017-01-19 / Outdoors

Buzzy Steimel, Leelanau County’s coyote eradicator

Suttons Bay sportsman targets coyotes for the thrill of the hunt — and he does it well
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


ABOVE: Buzzy Steimel, pictured in his garage Friday with his custom-built AR platform rifle, prefers predator hunting to deer hunting. LEFT: Steimel holds up a coyote for a photo snapped by his wife, fellow hunter Deb Steimel, following a successful hunt. ABOVE: Buzzy Steimel, pictured in his garage Friday with his custom-built AR platform rifle, prefers predator hunting to deer hunting. LEFT: Steimel holds up a coyote for a photo snapped by his wife, fellow hunter Deb Steimel, following a successful hunt. Save a deer. Shoot a coyote.

That’s how local sportsman Buzzy Steimel sees it, anyway.

“I’ve been there, did that,” said Steimel, proprietor of Rainbow Painting in Suttons Bay Township.

He’s a predator’s predator, and his days of deer hunting are behind him.

Instead, Steimel has learned to appreciate the thrill of the often challenging chase associated with coyote hunting — and it can be challenging.

“This is really hard to do,” he said. “That’s why I’m in love with it. Plus there’s nobody out there, just me and my wife (Deb Steimel). She goes out there with me and films it all.”

The thought of lowering the county’s coyote population may not be popular to orchardists, although that’s probably not the case for deer hunters.

That’s because coyotes play a role in curbing the deer herd, Steimel said.

“Every deer hunter wants them dead,” he said. “One adult coyote, minimum, eats five fawns a year. Seventy-eight percent of her diet is venison.

“That’s why I do it. I used to be a big deer hunter. My wife bow hunts, but I don’t do that much anymore. Now I’m trying to get rid of the yotes so there’s more deer.”

Steimel does so diligently, about three times a week to be exact, wherever he can find state land — whether that’s Northport, Glen Arbor, Kalkaska, Lake Ann or Williamsburg.

His most recent success story came Dec. 31 near Kehl Lake in Leelanau Township, where he increased his 2016 take from three coyotes to five.

He did so in a span of just 20 minutes, dropping the second coyote with one shot from 348 yards. Credit his self-made AR platform rifle, one of three “yote guns” in his arsenal.

Call it a New Year’s miracle. Most hunts offer a far less exciting finish.

“It’s a tough hunt,” Steimel said. “In this county, they say every 30 stands you’ll see one, but it’s not quite like that. In reality, it’s been more like every six to eight stands.”

He said he and his wife hit about three stands per hunt, spending about 45 minutes to an hour at each location.

Each stand comes with its own set of tactics and tools to get the job done.

He doesn’t skimp on the gear, either.

He’s got everything from trigger sticks to cardboard cutouts to electronic decoys to camouflage suits.

Perhaps most impressive is his collection of calls, which includes a Primos Boss Dogg Predator Call. It's preprogrammed with 100 sounds and has a built-in decoy, three 50-watt amplifiers of stereo sound quality and a 200-yard remote.

The wily coyote is not easily tricked.

“Wind is everything,” he said. “It’s all about the wind. If they wind you, and they will, they are like bullets. I can’t believe they run that fast.”

Fast as they may be, few in the county can track them down like Steimel.

Just ask the Cherry Home resident in Leelanau Township who once reached out to Steimel with a peculiar coyote issue: For whatever reason, coyotes in the area showed a willingness to defecate on asphalt driveways with regularity.

They reached out to the right person.

“They call me the coyote eradicator,” Steimel said with a laugh.

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