Coyote control on the farm, it's a necessity
Sorting out the false information
The first year we had the farm, now ten years ago, we saw six wild turkey hens with thirty-five chicks. They would be out every morning foraging for food. We also saw several deer; some does, a buck or two, and a few deer fawns. We did notice the occasional coyote trotting across the fields, but mostly we saw them on our neighbors property where they farmed a lot more cattle than we did. We had not actually witnessed a coyote chasing nor attacking cattle, but we had heard many stories from other farmer friends of ours. Rather than take farmer tales into account, we decided to do some research on the matter instead of just shooting the coyotes when we saw them.
In those first few years we didn't do anything about the coyotes we were seeing despite the fact that the frequency was increasing. Much to the detriment of the wild turkeys, deer, and soon to be to our cattle, we did nothing. We believed entirely what we had read, giving far to much credit to the sources. Within four years we had NO wild turkey chicks, that is NONE, not even one, and we haven't seen any since. We also rarely saw a deer fawn anymore. We thought it was cute the way ignorant coyote pups would howl in answer to the train whistle in the middle of the night giving away their location; adults don't normally do that. Then one day we came home to find three coyotes feasting on one of our young first-calf-heifers, a fresh kill.
Coyotes are not native east of the Mississippi river. It wasn't until about 1936 that they we able to migrate east over the bridges being built by humans. Coyotes are very adaptable, and they have few existing natural predators which is the primary reason they are terribly out of control. Coyotes will kill most mammals for food except panthers, bears, and wolves. In areas such as where I live, there are NO predators of the coyote, consequently there is dire need for human intervention. There are other smaller mammals, such as the skunk and armadillo that coyotes don't usually bother as well. We have watched coyotes hunting within feet of skunks on our night vision equipment, although starvation could change that.
This photo taken several days after our young cow was killed. You can see where a coyote had held her by the nose while others ate away at her ass and milk bag, torturing her to death. Now my wife had never touched a gun in her life, and she swore she never would, right up until those coyotes killed her cow. This was a small Jersey cow that had a twelve-week-old calf, thank God it was old enough to survive without it's mother. At the time, we didn't have a small caliber rifle that would reach the 220 yards where the coyotes were eating our young cow, and my 308 didn't have a scope on it yet, so at best, I just scared them away with a missed shot. I promptly started research to correct this problem, research that would include both rifles, and coyotes.
We promptly moved our cattle to a pasture closer to the barn to deter the coyotes, leaving our dead cow out there for them to eat while we sought information on an effective rifle. This fresh kill, nor the moving of the cows did anything to deter the coyotes. On the third day after the kill of our young cow, we looked out the window in the morning to find a coyote sitting and watching the rest of the herd, just 150 yards from our house. With over 700 pounds of three-day-old meat laying on the ground already, this coyote was looking for another fresh kill.
Rifle Research, the perfect coyote weapon
We already knew from hearing the coyotes yelping at night, that they are out every night. You see, coyotes have a lot of rods in their eyes which makes their night vision excellent, and they think they can't be seen. Though coyotes will hunt during the day, their hunt is mostly at night. We witnessed this first hand as we studied coyote activity around our farm both during the day and at night using our night vision equipment. We knew that if we wanted to kill coyotes and have a fair advantage, we would have to kill them at night when they think they own it. In Tennessee, it is illegal to shoot a center-fire rifle at night, so that means I have to find a suitable long-reach rim-fire rifle. There are four rim-fire rifles available for consideration; the .22 LR, .22 magnum, .17 HMR, and the .17 WSM. The first three are ballistically incapable of the range that I needed. However, the 17WSM is another story. With a 20-grain bullet, this rifle will reach out to 270 yards with no hold-over, on a six inch target. Designed with coyotes in mind, it will drop them every time, every single time. We've scored eight dead coyotes that prove it, six of them females which means thirty-six less pups for the next season.
Think the .17 WSM doesn't hit hard? The target in this photo is a 4 x 4 x 1/4 inch steel target that I made for our .17s. The 20 grain bullet penetrated the steel to a depth of 1/3, with a circle of 7/16 inch. The small dot in the middle is the actual point of impact of the plastic bullet tip. That is a lot of energy from such a small bullet. Now you can see why it's so effective at killing coyotes. We've got eight coyotes (all killed with the .17) pushing up daisies that prove just how good this rifle is. You can use the 25 grain bullet, but you give up a lot of range. For me, it's all about killing, my ego don't need a stroke about knock-down power. I'm not talking about an intruder, in my house six-feet away from me; for that I have other weapons. I want to kill a coyote 270 yards from me, and I don't care if it runs 50 yards before it drops over dead-as-a-door-nail. I also don't agree with the hunters that think you need to shoot a deer with a 7mm Magnum, or a .300 Winchester Magnum destroying half the carcass in the process, but that's a story for another day.
The next challenge for killing coyotes at night is some method to see them. An interesting fact that I learned after much research, letters to the governor, and conversations with conservation officers is that there is a legal difference between "hunting", and "killing". As a farmer that is suffering losses, I can legally kill coyotes at night using any means available, but they can not be hunted except by the legal means stated in the hunting guide. Enter my scope of choice for coyote killing, the ATN 5x18 (current model 5x20) night scope. This scope is extremely effective, and what is best, is that it can be used day or night. I found an improved illuminator that makes night vision very effective at more than 400 yards, much farther than I am going to shoot, but I can watch the coyotes as they meander into range. I usually kill them when they come 235 yards (my far zero) or closer. If I bait, I can easily get them within 100 yards.
A properly zeroed rifle is most important
I'm sorry to point out that most people, even experienced hunters, sight their rifle in, incorrectly. Most used a fixed distance zero, most commonly 100 yards. In fact, I have yet to find a hunter who is familiar with MPBR (Maximum Point Blank Range) sighting. MPBR sighting is most accurate, especially for long range shooting without holdover. The top depiction in the example to the left is the trajectory using MPBR sighting, and the lower depiction is the trajectory sighting in at 100 yards. The depiction is accurate for any rifle, only the near and far zero vary. When a rifle is sighted in at 100 yards, the bullet trajectory drops off rapidly creating the necessity to holdover all targets beyond 100 yards. With MPBR sighting, it is only necessary to holdover targets beyond the MPBR range, and for my .17 WSM, that is 270 yards.
To sight in using MPBR, first sight in the rifle at the near zero, then check it again at the far zero making sure to account for wind drift. For setting MPBR, you must input bullet data, and the size of the target zone you want to use. On my wifes rifle, she wants a four inch target zone which has a near zero of 52 yards, and a far zero of 210 yards. My rifle is set up with a six inch target zone giving me a near zero of 45 yards, and a far zero of 235 yards. With this setup, if I aim dead center (top to bottom) the most I will have is from 3 inches above, to 3 inches below my line of sight all the way out to 270 yards. Knowing the bullet trajectory, I know that at 100 yards, my bullet is going to strike exactly 2.28 inches above my line of sight, while at 200 yards my bullet will strike at 1.92 inches above my line of sight.
I've read a lot of boasting on coyote postings about the "clean kill" line of crap many hunters use as justification for using large caliber or high powered rifles. The truth is, it's what they want to use and that's ok. I can tell you that the coyote don't care about a "clean kill" when it starts eating the nose and ass out of a live deer, or my cattle, causing a slow death from shock and blood loss. I can also tell you that the .17 WSM kills the coyotes dead, and dead is dead. I don't care if the coyote runs 50 yards before it drops over or not. I've watched many a video of coyote killing on youtube, and even shot with a .223, they often don't run any less than they do sometimes when shot with the .17 WSM. I enjoy killing coyotes as each time I think about the slow death they inflict on large animals. With each coyote I kill, I know am saving a large animal that pain. If someone's ego needs to be justified, by all means use a high powered rifle. However, you can't use those rifles at night where I live. If you want to kill a lot of coyotes without wasting valuable time that you need to spend doing other farming activities, you need to kill them at night when they are on the prowl.
I invested in several game cameras capable of video, though I wasn't using them that way at first. After viewing a lot of activity, I started using the game cameras in video mode only. It was on these videos, and observation through our night vision scopes that we were able to observe the patterns of the coyotes, and patterns they have. They make rounds at night, though not at the same time. The time is regulated by the hunting success. If they aren't finding anything to kill and eat, they move along at a rapid pace. If the hunting is good, they will linger for quite a while in one area. They will return night after night, but they are diurnal, right? I'm not so sure. I think they would rather lay in or near their den all day, and hunt at night. I rarely see coyotes during the day, but when the sun sets, everything changes. Coyotes come out and begin their rounds. Even the pups come out and play, I have observed them chasing each other around in the fields oblivious to the fact that their is a crosshair ✛ on them.
One of errors of governments and universities is the idea that only they are capable of studies and factual information. Florida finally had to admit the falsity of these ideas when they simply could not get the invasive reptiles in the state under control. They stated that the uneducated public reptile catchers did indeed know very much about snakes and other reptiles invading the state. In fact, their assistance in catching these reptiles was so effective during the experimental program which included them, that the state reinstated the program as an irreplaceable source for control.
Though the people who author many of the studies have book knowledge, they lack practical knowledge entirely. In nearly every writing, previous writings are used as fact rather than revisiting the idea for possible errors in the theories. I noticed two common terms in most writings regarding coyotes; "assumed", and "presumed", neither of which is fact based. Also, the scat was macroscopically examined in at least some studies, one of which was a college thesis. If you want to see what this is like, go pick up a coyote turd and give it an examination, you can do it just as well as anyone else. It's not hard, and it sure isn't going to tell someone the hunting practices of coyotes. To learn how coyotes hunt, you have to watch some coyotes, day and night, and you aren't going to be able to do that in an air-conditioned office poking at some turds.
Farmers may not have advanced educations as the norm, but I can assure you they've got a hell-of-a-lot of practical knowledge, and they know a lot about their animals. Every farmer knows if he has a sick animal, and if he does, he's treating it because a farmer can't afford losses. The farmer can't raise taxes on the rest of the hard working public to pay for his losses, he has to work for them. Livestock are high value to every farmer, and he don't want to lose a single one.
During a conversation I was having with one of the top officers at the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency), the officer stated that, "coyotes don't kill cattle, they eat already dead cattle". I was appalled by the ignorance of this statement. But, it coincided with the so-called studies done by the above mentioned parties, and the Tennessee Coyote Control document from the TWRA website. The following excerpt taken from the afore mentioned document, Page 2, paragraph titled, What do Coyotes Eat?.
...Most analyses of coyote predation on large game mammals and domestic livestock indicate that young, old, and sick animals make up the bulk of this portion of the diet. It has been pointed out that results relating to both white-tailed deer and livestock should be interpreted cautiously for they could be misleading. It is difficult to separate carrion from predator-killed animals. Additionally, the level of occurrence of these food items could also be inflated because all seasons are not represented equally in samples. Since most of the coyotes examined from Tennessee have been collected during the autumn and winter (which corresponds to the hunting season), and since several coyote digestive tracts contained remains of internal organs of deer, it is possible that scavenging for wounded deer or the remains of field-dressed deer, which are usually left in the woods by hunters, account for the high percent occurrence of deer in the Tennessee animals examined.
The following paragraphs point out the errors in the above mentioned document.
- The first problem is that there is no reference to a document or persons responsible for so-called fact finding. Secondly, The first sentence is purely an assumption, and incorrect at best.
- The third sentence points out an important fact contrary to what they think it means. When the coyotes killed our young cow, they ate on her remains for more than two months. Because it was winter, January the 9th, 2016 when they killed her, we used her as bait to kill the three coyotes responsible. So of course if the coyotes stomachs were examined, it would have looked like carrion. Also, during the same time period that the coyotes were nibbling away at our dead cow, they also killed a larger, older cow on the farm to our north, and two younger calves on the farm to our east.
- The rest of the paragraph is presumption, which everyone knows isn't accurate, but the state bought it as gospel, hook-line-and-sinker. What we have found by watching coyotes day and night is that they always hunt at night, while only hunting sometimes during the day. They are called diurnal, but I don't believe it. Yes, they do come out during the day, but they are primarily night hunters stalking prey when they think they have the cover of darkness. The make their rounds in their favorite hunting grounds all night long. Rabbits and mice are playing at night, and the coyotes know it. They are the easiest prey for coyotes, and probably one of their favorite foods, but they don't go far supplying the calories that a pack of hunting coyotes need. Pack? Yes, coyotes are not lone hunters like most believe though they will hunt alone. I have much video of them hunting together at night. Especially after the growth of grass ends in early August, and small animals like rabbits and mice aren't breeding like crazy anymore.
And an even bigger line of crap that I have read on many writings about coyotes. What I find most interesting in every one of these writings, is that there has never been any evidence presented, only assumption and presumption, and we all know neither of those are fact based.
Source Breeding season is in February and March. In the spring, females build dens in preparation for their young. Females have a gestation period of 63 days and give birth to groups of three to 12 young at once. The groups of babies are called litters and each coyote baby is called a pup. The size of the litter depends on where the coyotes live. In areas where there are a lot of coyotes, there will be smaller litters. In areas with fewer coyotes, more pups will be born.
- The statement that the size of the litter depends upon where the coyotes live is what I dispute for lack of evidence. Other writers have taken the assumption that if you kill off coyotes, they rebound rapidly by increasing the litter size. Complete line of crap; no evidence. We have found quite the opposite when we kill coyotes. Once we do a kill, it takes significant time before coyotes repopulate the area showing that this theory is false.
- Coyotes have an average litter size of six pups, I can accept this. On my game cameras, since my last kill off, I have viewed a couple of coyotes coming through. If one of those is a female which it probably is, and if she has a litter of six pups, that means I will have six or eight coyotes to kill next fall keeping in line with what has been occurring.
- I also argue that coyotes den year-around. They don't wait till spring to "build a den". They use the same den year after year if they live that long.
The deer in the photo to the left was killed by coyotes early the morning of August 21st, 2017 just across our fence line. We jumped a coyote eating on it about 8am while we were checking our fence lines. That afternoon, we dragged the deer carcass to our baiting area 90 yards from our back door. We killed five coyotes, three females and two males, within four days. They came to dine a little to close to our night vision gun sights.
We've got it down now, we put a driveway alarm sensor by our bait, usually pork fat thrown about, which the coyotes just can't leave alone. With the alarm in our bedroom, we just go to bed; when the alarm goes off, we get up and kill some coyotes. It's that simple. It took us two years to figure out the best way to score a large number of coyotes without having to stay up all night, but now we've got it down to a science.
What we've learned by watching coyotes day and night
Coyotes are wary and smart. There is commonly a dominant, experienced male that stands back and lets the younger suckers go in first. This will be the most difficult coyote to kill, but the one most important to kill. He will lead the others in an attack on larger animals such as cattle and deer. The most important weakness that coyotes possess is their hunger. You won't see a fat coyote because they have to work very hard to keep a full stomach. They begin hunting just before sunset, and continue all night long until just after sunrise. If they have a fresh, large kill, they will eat on it until late in the morning. The following night, they will return to that same kill and eat some more as they make their rounds looking for fresher meat. They will do this religiously until there is nothing left to eat.
Coyotes will eat stuff other than meat, but that is only out of necessity to prevent starvation. Coyotes like fresh meat, and will continue to kill if convenient, even though they have other meat on the ground. Coyotes will indeed eat other coyotes. We have witnessed this first hand, and you can even hunt over a coyote carcass as they will surely come for that fresh meat also. The best way to hunt coyotes is by baiting, even though they are wary and smart, their stomach rules. Even when you shoot one or two one night on the bait, the others will return the next night, or even later the same night.
A coyotes night vision is so good that we have on video game camera, coyotes warily looking at the driveway sensor which was located on a post near the bait. We also removed the LED from the sensor, but we had done this earlier. We later painted the sensor to match the hay behind it effectively camouflaging it. We also had to do the same thing with the game cameras which we keep in bear boxes. If something don't blend well with the background, coyotes are suspicious. You just have to be a little smarter than they are.
Coyotes are driven by the need to eat. It's that simple. A starving coyote will hunt day or night, and they will go after anything they think they can take a bite out of. We watched a coyote chase one of our 500lb steers at about 4pm one afternoon, but it couldn't catch the steer which eventually ran up by our full-grown bull for protection. The coyote stood on the hill watching the steer by the bull. I ran in the house and took a 260 yard pot shot with my open sight .308 missing the coyote, I saw the bullet strike about four inches below. The coyote started to run for the woods, but I took another shot, that one nearly 300 yards, but that bullet struck about four inches behind. I won in the end, we killed that coyote later with the .17 on our bait.
Why did I miss that coyote with the .308, and why didn't I use the .17 in the first place?
- I'm 60 years old now, and my eyes aren't what they once were using that open sight .308. I have since corrected that situation and mounted a day scope on the .308 which is now also MPBR sighted.
- The .17 has a night vision scope that does work day or night, but it is electric and we hadn't used them since the previous winter when the coyotes killed our cow, so we just weren't ready with batteries or a battery pack. The .308 in the day is going to be the fastest response. But coyotes just don't come out that much in the day. Every coyote we've killed, all eight, has been with the .17 WSM
These coyotes were two of five that came in to feed on the deer carcass that first night. The male was killed first, the female was killed early in the morning several hours later. We got the rest the next couple of nights.
Coyotes may or may not be diurnal, but I can tell you their preference is to hunt at night, and they have rounds that they make. You can watch them with night vision equipment, and they will be out to familiar spots like clock work every single night. The only thing that will delay them is a good meal. They will check familiar good feeding grounds religiously every night, that's why baiting works so good. You can watch the same territory during the day, and unless the coyotes are starving, they will not come out. We have baited with many things including just about all table scraps. A hungry coyote will eat just about anything, but it will return night after night to a meal of flesh, and the fresher the better.
The more coyotes there are in a particular area, the more frequently you will see them. You will see them during the day because the food competition is to great for the population. Also, they will be driven to take on larger game with greater competition. The dominant male is the most dangerous to large animals, and even to humans. A hungry coyote, as most are, is a dangerous coyote. If you see a coyote foraging during the day, you know he is hungry. They are wary, untrusting, and smart.
Wildlife is not completely stupid despite the fact that every animal, including humans, can be trained with food or treats. When a farmer begins to cut hay, wildlife of all kinds takes notice immediately because they know that a lot of groceries are about to become available. This is first noticed by swallows that begin to circle the cutter eating all the insects as they become airborne. I have observed coyotes come into the field and trot along in front of my wife's tractor as she was baling hay looking for exposed mice, dead rabbits, and snakes. After the hay is baled, the Red-tailed Hawks will sit on the hay bales for the next couple of days watching for exposed mice and rabbits.
The moral of the story is that if you, a farmer, want to protect your livestock without spending money you don't have, you need to invest a small amount of money in a .17 WSM and a night vision scope sighted in using the MPBR method. This is going to set you back about $1,000 per unit, but you will make that back on the first head you save.
Now, another spring is here (2018) since we had our last big coyote kill-off. We had never seen a Bobcat on our game cameras in the ten-years we have had the farm, but we are seeing one now. Coyotes will also kill and eat Bobcats, but it takes at least two working together, and we know they also work that way on deer and cattle. One-on-one, a bobcat will tear a coyote a new ass. We are hoping to see more deer, maybe even some fawns in the spring. We'd also like to see some turkey chicks again, but that is a long shot since we haven't even seen a turkey hen in several years. We are also seeing an occasional coyote on the cameras, but we aren't actively baiting, and probably won't until fall.
Some people I've talked to say that the bobcats are as dangerous to livestock as coyotes, but I haven't seen any evidence that supports that theory. What I do know is that bobcats are native to Tennessee where coyotes are not. Even if bobcats do kill livestock, cats kill by biting the throat, not by eating the animal alive. If a bobcat ever kills any of my livestock, I'll post that information here.
Happy Coyote killing!!! END Jump to Top