Respect Coyotes AND Hunting
By Ron Spomer
More years ago than I care to remember, my cousin married this guy who was reportedly quite the coyote hunter. “He got 70 of them last year,” I was told.
Wow! I needed to meet this guy. “What kind of call does he use?” I asked innocently.
“He don’t use no call. He runs ‘em over with this snowmobile.”
That was in 1968. To this day I’ve never met the cousin-in-law, but I’ve talked with plenty like him. All kill lots of coyotes, but none are coyote hunters.
Call me old fashioned, but to me the definition of “hunter” means someone who reads sign, follows tracks and trails, learns the calls, scent markers and behavior patterns of his prey, then uses his knowledge, experience, insights, creativity and woodsmanship to gain a clear shot. The only role mechanized transportation should play in the hunt is getting said hunter into the hunting grounds. Gas-powered machines should not be used to stir up, flush, or chase the prey. Not even the lowly coyote.
The infamous “brush wolf” of the West has long labored under the weight of considerable animosity, much of it deserved. They really do kill and eat lambs, fully grown sheep, mule deer, pronghorns, pet dogs and nearly any other living thing they can get their fangs on. But so do humans. I don’t blame ranchers and other aggrieved parties for hating coyotes, but that’s no justification for every sportsman to despise the species and condemn it to annihilation, fair means or foul.
In hunting camps and sporting goods stores across the country I commonly hear things like this: “Rotten, stinking, murdering coyotes. Goddamn thieving vicious worthless sons-of-bitches.” (Technically, all coyotes are sons and daughters of bitches, but that’s not exactly the intended sentiment.) “Useless, rapacious sons of Satan.” (That from the more poetic crowd.) And worse.
As with any prejudice, kids pick up the refrain and the partial myth of the evil coyote is perpetuated. What’s the harm? Despite a hundred years of ceaseless warfare against them — including aerial gunning and widespread poisoning — coyotes have not only survived, but thrived. The sportsman/hunter image, unfortunately, has not.