Any cattleman will tell you that coyote are ruthless and opportunistic killers. Cattle aren’t the coyotes only victims, poultry, pigs, deer and even the family pet are routinely killed by coyotes. Occasionally you will hear of a coyote attacking a small child. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t happen. Even adults are attacked, just ask any resident of Los Angeles.
Coyote are most active at night, making night hunting the best time to thin the numbers of these predators. Unbelievably, there are states that don’t allow night hunting of these killers, unless you are threatened personally.
Coyote are commonly seen in metropolitan and urban areas. Being dedicated opportunists they have discovered that humans leave food behind.
Baiting coyote (in those states which allow it) is the best tactic for attracting coyote. If you don’t have bait, make your own. Though not optimum, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Coyote are omnivores, eating meat as well as chomping on the veggies in the garden and leftovers.
DNA tests have verified that coyote will breed with domesticated dogs creating a dangerous mix called coydogs that breed year round, whereas pure coyote breed once a year. Like domestic dogs they lack any fear of humans, yet maintain the predatory nature of the coyote.
Coydogs are an even greater threat to livestock than purebred coyote.
The coyote liter averages 6 pups, but can be as many as 19. Coyote tolerate co-lactating females and will adopt the young of a fallen mother. Coyote packs tend to hunt in pairs, but may be observed traveling as well as hunting in large packs. The summer of 2013 revealed a pack on a central Alabama cattle farm numbering an estimated 50 adult coyote taking cattle down.
While most coyote will keep a minimal distance between themselves and humans it isn’t unknown for them to walk in closely to humans.
Perhaps these are coydogs with their lack of fear for humans.
The point is with coyote you just never know what they will do. You can bet though, if you are set up to hunt them, they are going to detect you and steer away.
The following are tips for coyote hunters, families & ranchers who want to protect livestock, pets and loved ones.
- Never throw leftovers out, dispose of all food items into a trash receptacle in which coyote cannot tear into.
- Low fences will not protect pets or children from coyotes. If you have no fence, or have only a low fence, have an adult observe the children while playing outside. Bring pets in at dusk and do not put out until fully daylight. Coyotes may still hunt during the day, but the risk is greater from dusk to dawn.
- Sheep ranchers are having some success using sheep dogs to protect the flock. Other ranchers will undoubtedly be utilizing dogs in the efforts to stop livestock losses.
- Not even a covered ‘chicken yard’ can prevent a determined coyote from digging in. Field fencing or similar type wire can be laid on the ground outside poultry yards to prevent wildlife from digging under the fence. Two ft. wide wire should suffice, though it is better to have the wire buried under a small amount of soil. Coyote are smart, generally even more intelligent than man’s best friend.
- Another alternative is to set electric fence posts out of reach of curious fowl on the exterior perimeter of a poultry yard and use a hot fence charger. Run a few strands of electric wire with one strand low for critters close to the ground and one strand about 3 ft. off the ground. Don’t be surprised when you find possum, snakes, weasels and such dead around a live wire.
- Live bait and night hunting yield greater results. Utilize scent mask, camouflage clothing, and blinds. Coyotes generally approach prey from the side, not from the downwind side as would be expected. Night vision hunting and infrared are helpful lacking the light of a full moon. Check your local laws, not all states allow night hunting of coyotes.
- Never locate a bait trap anywhere near livestock, the coyote will eventually return.
- While everyone has their own opinion of the best coyote caller, electronic models predominate, but anything is better than nothing. Hunters calling coyote claim to have the best results from serenades, seconded by howls and barks.
- Take the shot and expect to miss. If you see a coyote don’t wait for the perfect shot, you may not get another opportunity. Don’t be discouraged by misses, able to reach speeds of up to 40 mph plus and jump as much as 14 ft. these predators are more than just smart, they can move fast.
- Be prepared to adapt. Once hunted, coyote become increasingly cautious. Change the hunting location often, and if you come across a coyotes hunt carcass set up your hunt near there. Leave as little scent as possible by entering and exiting from one direction wearing scent mark, and don’t forget the shoes!
- When you kill a female coyote you have potentially prevented the birth of up to 190 pups (ten year average life span and up to 19 pups per litter, with one litter per year. Coydogs breeding frequency is more like a domestic dog).
- Never assume to have the coyote down to a science, they will fool you. The most successful coyote hunts appear to be those utilizing a large number of hunters bearing rifles and night scopes located on slightly wooded hills overlooking a large pasture. In one example, fifty some odd coyotes were killed with an indeterminate number escaping. The coyote came from the woods and across a field approaching a herd of cattle they had been hunting for several weeks. So much for the small pack/2 coyote hunting team theory.
- Most coyote hunters prefer hunting with a light weight AR-15 variant, while others prefer their hunting rifles or shotguns.
- Therein lies the only proven of coyote hunting, always expect the unexpected and do the best you can.
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