Big bullies: Coyotes are efficient hunters and clever killers

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American hunters have fallen head over heels for coyotes, just as they have for whitetail deer and wild turkeys.

Hard-core hunters chase deer and turkey year-round, scouting, studying, dreaming, practicing, building, and yes, hunting. On a quickly growing interest level, so do coyote fans.

Coyote hunting

Just look at every outdoor publication on the news stand this month. The covers are coyote, the features are coyote, the advertisements are coyote. There are even varmint-only periodicals focusing year-round on predators and especially on coyotes. And it’s all about late winter, prime time for ’yote hunters.

No wonder, coyotes have overrun Ohio and nearly every other state. In fact these sneaky meat eaters can be found, seen, and heard in every county, township, and most towns across the Buckeye State.

Invisible life

For the most part, coyotes live an invisible life, but in recent years they are showing themselves as bold neighborhood bullies as they adapt to city life. Their proliferation is legendary, their reputations as top predators equally so, and their ability to cleanse a landscape of anything else with fur on it evident.

It was in 1981 that a staff written editorial in the Toledo Blade claimed that coyotes and crows were overrunning the area. It prompted a state legislator to propose a bill to encourage the control of the unwelcome varmints.

Readers saw the news as laughable and the legislation died in a gaggle of state house giggles.

Wolf hunt

But western Ohio residents weren’t giggling in the early 1900s when sightings of a wolf were reported. It wasn’t long until a huge hunt was organized.

A massive gathering of men surrounded a 10-mile square on a cold January day then closed the trap to a one mile square where the wolf was actually seen but escaped, running with hounds hot on its trail which was lost at some point.

A second attempt was planned for a week later. This time, the trap worked and the wolf fell to a battle line of shotguns as did one of the participants who was shot accidentally.

Mistaken identity. The wolf was mounted and displayed in a DeGraff bank where people could view what may have been a large coyote.

In the 1980s, a knowledgeable Ohio wildlife official was able to examine old photos of the wolf which he determined to be most likely a coyote.

A smattering of wolf stories emerged as the decades passed with most of them probable coyote stories gone wild.

By the 1930s, livestock owners, especially sheep farmers, were experiencing losses accounted to coyotes. In the 1940s, the numbers of coyotes increased but many wildlife officials speculated that much of the increase could be attributed to a coyote’s willingness to interbreed with domestic dogs. The term coydogs came in into every discussion about coyotes.

In the 1950s, coyotes were still listed as a rare species in Ohio, but farmers who were losing lambs thought differently. By then, the presence of coyotes was being felt in several Ohio counties.

Too often, officials claimed that these “prairie wolves” were simply pets that escaped or were somehow imported by careless owners. That was then and this is now.

Clever coyotes

Today, coyotes are everywhere. They are intelligent and adaptable. Efficient hunters and clever killers, they eat what is available. Farmers sometimes have trouble keeping barn cats around, puppies disappear, ground hogs and rabbits are gleaned, and smaller rodents like field mice provide meals for these opportunistic and beautiful predators. And yes, they kill lots of whitetail fawns.

So why the attention to coyotes right now? Because this is the best time to hunt them as they search for slim pickings during this barren time of the year and look for and compete for mates.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

12 Comments

  1. Harold Seibert says:

    this is very well written and is true. A pack of coyotes can clean out a stock of calfs in a few days.

  2. Larry livengood says:

    Coyotes have nearly cleaned out the entire woodchuck population in my area. (N Central OH) I consider them a boon to soybeen farmers and I prohibit the killing of coyotes on my property. By the way, I encourage deer hunting on my farm.

  3. Carl Meier says:

    Great article! I am in Pataskala, been hunting coyotes in Licking county! Would love to come up your way sir! I would love to heard back! I can be reached at cameier247@yahoo.com.

  4. I have had my chicken coup cleaned out. The last three chickens were scared enough to stick their heads thru the chicken wire. The heads were gone and the necks sticking out were just bones. The bodys were not touched – evidently the preditor could not get in to the chickens through the wire? I know I have coyotes in my back pasture – could this be their work or do you think it might be a weasel? P.S. I have a creek running directly behind my henhouse.

  5. jacob call says:

    I live in southern ohio and the coyotes here are thick here. Ive losed count of how many body parts from deer ive seen from the coyotes getting ahold of them.

  6. Richard says:

    I have to say Wayne National Forest is not worth hunting. The coyotes and bobcats have damaged the deer herd so bad in South Eastern Ohio its not worth hunting in some areas. In 2008 we had nice bucks and plenty of deer. I have 3 trail cameras up and running fron June to the end of January. The deer are just not there. We had no fawns survive from 2009 to 2011 and the deer herd was not carried on. Hunters killing old doe and older bucks and not seeing younger deer. In farm areas with lots of fields coyotes are seen and shot. In the vast mountains they are heard but rarely seen. The ODNR does not want you to know this. But the bobcats are thick, you can not shoot them or trap them. They kill fawns! Complain to your Legislators and Governor about the problem. Ohio is loosing revenue because people are not coming back to hunt from out of state to sit and see one or two deer in a week hunting. The turkeys, grouse, and rabbits have suffered enough. Open season on bobcats and put something out other than wolves to kill the coyotes or our children will not have nothing to hunt. Maybe they are thinking if this happens it will be easier to control guns.

  7. Pat says:

    I live in Lucas County,Ohio at the edge of the Ohio and Michigan line. The last two years we have attempted to raise backyard chickens as a hobby with the grandkids. Loses due to coyote attacks in my yard are mounting. This year alone I have personally chased coyotes out of my yard twice. Just yesterday, with the chickens making a racket, I found them squawking in the garage, standing on the workbench and any other high object piled in there. (I had left the door open). I rounded the corner in time to see a coyote taking off. One chicken is missing. Took an hour to calm everyone down.

    Can I shoot these coyotes? This is not the first time.

    And you are correct. We are not seeing deer or fawns anymore. They used to be regular visitors in our yard.
    Pat

  8. Lisa says:

    My outside kittens are disappearing about 1 every 2 weeks. We know its coyotes this just started happening about a couple of months ago. My husband reminded me about a deer that got hit on died on the lower part of our property, we noticed that something was dragging in up the hill and it took about 3 weeks to get it. My son said it could be a bobcat also. We live along the Ohio river and a creek and farmland

  9. Jim says:

    Do farmers ever pay hunters to kill coyotes on there farm for night shoots ?

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