Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia coyote’

I purchased a diaphragm coyote call a few months ago from MFK. I wanted to liven up the blog with some possible coyote photos and videos, and coyote hunting is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try.

It’s much harder than it looks, especially if the coyotes in your area don’t howl that much and are generally unresponsive to howls and other vocalizations.

However, I eventually did get lucky. I set up about 100 feet deeper down an Allegheny bench. I howled three times and let loose a few bitch-in-estrus whimpers.

I noticed some movement to my right. Something yellow was advancing across the bench opposite mine across a small ravine.

That’s when I knew it. I had a coyote coming in. I just got ready for him to come up from the ravine. What follows is, well, pretty hard to believe. If I didn’t have the photos and the video proof, I still wouldn’t believe it.

This is not a zoo animal. This is backwoods West Virginia, and this is a very wild Eastern coyote from a population that is as pressured as any on the East Coast.














So calm and relaxed that he stops to scratch an itch!


He paced around me for about ten minutes. He was looking for the bitch. If he started to wander off, I would just whimper a bit through the diaphragm, and he’d come back.

This is one of those moments when you realize how great it is to be alive.

Too look into those wild yet sagacious brush wolf eyes is to be taken back to a time when the only dogs were wild ones.

It was  my pleasure to have had this opportunity.

I met a wild one.

And it doesn’t seem real.




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Coyote sign







And the old dog himself:

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I’m always excited when I get a coyote on the trail camera. Coyotes here are elusive, There is no closed season on them, and humans here are armed and hate coyotes. Ever since we met up with coyotes, the selection pressures have been for a sort of cunning paranoia.  This one spent more time sniffing around than the other ones I’ve been able to catch on camera. The Primos camera make so much noise and flash so much light that they quickly scare off more elusive predators. The new Moultrie 1100i did the job well.

I should note that when i first got the thumbnail of this video, I was certain that I’d got yet another opossum on it. Opossums are interesting in their own freaky way, but they aren’t interesting enough to get posted here.

But it’s nice to get a brush wolf, my highest value target.

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I came across some coyote tracks in the snow.



Their size next to a nickel (US five cent piece):



One foot stepping where the other was.  This is very common in coyotes. They walk almost without wasted movement.



And for comparison, here are some of Miley’s:




There is no hard and fast rule from telling dog tracks from coyote tracks, but in this case, there are no other domestic dogs running loose on this road. Golden retrievers have round “cat feet,” which gives them a pretty compact track in the mud or snow. Coyotes have pronounced center toes on their front feet. There aren’t many dogs that have that particular foot morphology, especially around here where sighthounds really don’t exist (except on the race track).

Miley is also at least 1/3 larger than any coyote that lives here, and because her legs are proportionally shorter, she tends to dig in more when she runs.

That’s how I tell them apart.


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I made a little scent post for the trail camera a few days ago. I used red fox urine with a bit of coyote gland lure rubbed on the top.

Miley offed a gray squirrel the same day, so  was put near the post.

And a coyote did come by last night

I think it’s a small female, probably a darker gray one that the big dog coyote I’ve been getting on camera.

Eastern coyotes have wolf and domestic dog ancestry and vary quite a bit in appearance. The one from this summer is a bigger animal, probably pheomelanistic, clear sable.

This one is wolf-colored, but clearly lighter-frame. My guess is this is a bitch.


If you’re wondering why I removed the camera, last Sunday I was sitting on that rise where the coyote clearly reveals herself in the video.

My sister’s fiance wanted to go out coyote calling from my dad’s new tree stand. I got to play around with the e-caller when I got a response.

His iPhone managed to capture a bit of the cacophony:


The stand is pretty deep into the woods– maybe 50 yards or so.

I’m sitting on that rise in the old pasture at the edge of the woods.

About two minutes of howling go on, and I start to hear the brush cracking all around me.

There is nearly a full moon out, and it’s clear enough that I can see some things.

But not the thing that is crunching leaves 30 feet in front of me in the access road!

I hear a bark and then something retreating back.

I shine my flashlight into the darkness, and there is a wolfy coyote standing not more then 45 feet from me!

It’s not the one in the video, and it’s not the same one I’ve been getting on camera all summer.

It’s heavily sabled and stoutly built.

It stands there for about 30 seconds before slowly slinking back into the brush.

Yeah. I’m getting on them on camera now.

I’m getting hooked!





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I thought it was Miley. It’s clearly a relatively big canid with a robust body.


If you look closely, though, you can clearly see the tail tip is black, and there is no feathering.

And Miley was inside at midnight last night.

And well, if you look very closely, it’s got a certain organ…

It’s a dog coyote, not a bitch.



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The trail cam spooked this coyote before it ran off.  If you can look closely and have a bit of understanding of domestic dog body language, the fear and nervousness exhibited here are unmistakable.


I posted this video on Facebook a few days ago, but Youtube’s resolution is just a lot better. You can tell this is a very typical Eastern coyote, which is a coyote that has some wolf and domestic dog ancestry.

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No really, but it looks like a somewhat larger coyote showed up this week.

wv coyote bigger one

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Last weekend, I set up the game camera, and I dumped out a few cans of sardines and spread the oil out in front of it.

This is what I got when I collected the SD card this evening.

WV coyote 1

An eastern coyote!

If you zoom in you can see it has a wolfy head, and it’s pretty robust. It’s been living high on the hog on dimwitted cottontails this summer.

wv coyote 2

wv coyote 3

close up of wv coyote

Look at how wolfy that head is!

Eastern coyotes have come into this part of the East from Canada, where they have received a bit of Canis lupus lycaon genes, and they are a bit more likely to pack up and hunt deer than their Western counterparts.

If you are wondering how big it is, I do have a photo of Miley in about the same place, which was also taken from the game cam. Miley is bigger than it is.

But it’s not a small coyote.

WV coyote golden retriever comparison

I think the coyote is in about the same spot as Miley, but it could be a bit closer to the camera than she is. Miley is 23 inches at the shoulder and 75ish pounds. Domestic dogs are usually much more heavily built than coyotes are–even those that have a bit of wolf in them.

I was trying to get more photos of raccoons, but I think I’ll settle for a coyote.




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coyote virginia

From The State Journal:

Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick believes he has the solution to West Virginia’s coyote problem.

Helmick is looking at establishing a bounty to encourage hunters to kill the critters.

He said coyotes are the state’s biggest predator problem. They are in all 55 counties and pose a threat to both farm animals and domestic pets.

“More of them are being born than we’re removing. They’re winning the battle,” Helmick told The Register-Herald of Beckley.

“We spend a significant amount of money on predator control. About half a million dollars. The feds helped us out a few years ago but aren’t doing anything at all now. We’ve lost the federal support.”

Under Helmick’s plan, coyotes would be trapped and their ears would be marked with an identifying number. They would then be released in a different area. Hunters who kill a coyote marked with a number would receive a bounty.

“Hunters will be out there all the time, looking for this type of opportunity, and will probably kill another 25 trying to get to that one, or maybe even kill 100 of them,” he said.

Details of the plan, such as the bounty amount, are still being worked out.

Helmick wants to expand the state’s sheep industry. But he said that will be difficult unless the coyote population is reduced.

“I know we have a problem with the sheep industry,” he said.

“And the coyote is not all the problem, but it’s a significant part. For the rebirth or growth of the sheep industry, it would be almost impossible with the amount of coyotes we now have on the loose.”

If this plan is implemented, West Virginia will learn the hard way what a waste of money a bounty system for coyotes actually is.

For some perspective, the coyotes that live in West Virginia are derived from ancestors that first encountered Europeans on the Great Plains.

Those settlers then spent a hundred years trapping and poisoning coyotes left and right all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The results?

Coyotes are now found in every province in Canada and every state in the US except Hawaii. If they were better swimmers, they would do fine in Hawaii.

Their range now runs from Alaska to Panama.

And all those millions and millions of dollars spent on killing them has only resulted in them expanding them.

I have no problem with hunting coyotes, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we can significantly reduce their numbers through a trapping and hunting bounty lottery.

If we couldn’t reduce their numbers on the Great Plains, where it’s very open, you can forget about reducing their numbers in dense, brushy places like West Virginia.

Coyotes are here, and they are going to stay.

You can hunt them and trap them, but we’re always going to have them.

Furthermore, Helmick’s understanding of trapping is pretty weak.

If you trap a dog in a fox trap and then let it go, that dog will never be caught in the same kind of trap again. Dogs are not stupid animals, and many old trappers trained their dogs to stay out of their traps by setting some to catch the dogs.

Once caught, the dogs become trap-wise.

This plan, which involves catching a coyote and then turning it loose in the hopes that it will be caught again, is really quite stupid.

A coyote has far more sense than any dog, and the chances of a trapper ever being able to catch one of those marked coyotes are really quite low, and we would have to pay trappers to catch the coyotes in the first place.

There really isn’t that much of a sheep industry in West Virginia. You can drive all over the state and go 50 or 6o miles without seeing a single sheep. So this policy really isn’t helping a major industry in the state.  It’s just giving a few select sheep producers so assurance that the state is doing something.

A much better use of taxpayer money would be to encourage sheep farmers to keep a donkey among their flocks.

Donkeys hate anything that looks like a dog, and they will also bond very strongly to whatever animals are in their pasture.

So a donkey is the ideal weapon against coyote predation upon flocks.

But politicians like to look like they’re doing something.

This coyote bounty lottery scheme will not reduce coyote numbers. It will cost the taxpayer money.

It will look like we’re doing something.

But we’re just wasting more government funds.

But I guess that only matters when Obama does it.


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