These cousins of dogs should not be mistaken for man’s best friend. At one time, there was a natural balance in the wild between coyotes and wolves, the dog’s other cousin. Wolves and coyotes are natural competitors for the same game. In the end of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, humans all but declared war on wolves in the western plains of North America. Ranchers and trappers killed off the wolf to such a degree than they are now mostly absent in the lower fortyeight states. Only now are wolf populations very slowly beginning to grow back in some areas. Without the competition of wolves for the same food and resources, coyote populations grew at an astounding rate. They have learned how to live among humans in the wild and even in our cities.
The coyote is a scavenger, first and foremost. He is an opportunist. He hides in parks, on golf courses, and in fields. He steals dog food and eats smaller domesticated pets. In the wild, the coyote prefers to prey on unprotected young animals or injured game. Coyotes are found in most places where small game is common. Mice, rabbits, and upland birds are all present in meadows and fields. Coyote are also there.
Coyotes also follow bigger game, like antelope and deer. They are always slinking around when larger game are giving birth to their young. As opportunists, coyotes use the same trails and waterholes as their would-be prey. Their role in the natural world is to keep small game populations under control. There are currently more than enough rodents and rabbits for them to have their fill. However, it is likely that growing coyote populations will over hunt big game like deer. Their territory can be anywhere from ten to forty square miles, depending on several factors including human structures near cities and other coyote packs in the wild. Smaller than wolves, coyotes are usually less than two feet tall. They are gray or brown in color, with an occasional reddish cast.
Ears are pointed and long, ideal for picking up the sounds of small animals scurrying in the brush. Coyote’s noses are seemingly long for the size of their heads. They weigh anywhere from twenty to fifty pounds. The coyote is a lean animal that slinks close to the ground and has a thick and bushy tail. He is a fast and agile runner, able to reach up to forty-three miles an hour quickly. Droppings are similar to that of dogs. However, coyote scat usually contains indigestible materials such as deer hair, mouse fur, or berries. Coyote raise their young in dens near their hunting grounds. They are adept at hiding close to their prey and hiding their dens. Calling coyotes requires the reproduction of the sound of a dying animal. The sound of a squealing rabbit is particularly effective, and the device that produces it is fairly inexpensive. Good times to hunt this animal are the two hours after sunrise and the last two hours before dawn.
Similar to dogs, coyotes have a very strong sense of smell. Hunters set up downwind from where they suspect their prey may be located. Full camouflage is also recommended. Grease paint is often used on hands as face as well. Though bold when it comes to stealing food, these scavengers are also easily startled and want little to do with adult humans. The call will attract the coyote so long as it doesn’t figure out there is a human behind the sound. Usually, a good call will yield results in about twenty minutes unless the coyote becomes distracted by other potential food sources.
Ideally, the animal will slink close enough to the caller to fall victim to an accurate shooter with a .22 rifle or a 6mm. If the hunter is armed with a shotgun, he will need the animal to come much closer. When hunting alone, you will probably only get one shot at a coyote. If you miss, his speed and agility will allow the prey to escape in the brush. With team hunting, a caller draws the coyote in while a shooter takes a position which allows more than one shot if the coyote bolts. The same effect can be created by a single hunter with an electronic caller and a remote control. He places the caller where he wants the target and then works his way to the side of where the prey will hopefully approach.