I’ve talked several times before about our coyote predation problems, and our attempt to manage coyotes partly by attempting to teach them to stay out of the yard and livestock areas, and using removal as a final option. We’ve had reasonable luck this year with shooting at them and (intentionally) missing, and having that be enough of a deterrent to keep them at a distance. But, for the ones that do keep returning and not responding to our “training” methods, eventually, we’re not going to miss! So that is what happened last week, we had one that kept lurking, boldly continuing to snag poultry from the yard, and Kirk finally got him. We don’t like to take them out, but if they are constantly killing livestock and do not respond to training, they have to go.
This was while I was out of town in Pullman, and Kirk called with the news. He ended up putting the coyote in the freezer to wait until I got home. It fit neatly into the empty above-the-fridge freezer that we’d recently replaced with our new French door fridge. So, we had a frozen coyote in the kitchen. 🙂 Before that though, he weighed the coyote and all the dogs. You see, we always get a kick out of people expressing great fear of coyotes, and amazement that we chase them, because they are really little dogs. Littler than our dogs. And they’re pretty chicken; they are no fools, they don’t take on something that might injure them if they don’t have to. And that was the case with this fellow, as you can see from the photo above, he’s a petite little canine, just about the same size as Maggie. Here’s how they weighed in:
Coyote: 33.5 pounds
Maggie: 42 pounds
Gene: 36 pounds
Spanky: 48 pounds
We thawed him out this weekend for processing. This coyote was actually not in good health, and his skin and tail were very mange-ey and he had some bald patches. He may not have made it through the winter on his own, and was probably targeting our poultry out of desperation for something easy enough for his unhealthy body to catch. Despite the patchy appearance, we thought it would be good practice to skin it, and once the hide was off, it looked OK. So for fun we’ll tan it for a wall-hanger, even though it’s not a fancy fur.
I’m not sure how to judge wild dog teeth for age estimation, but if this were a domestic dog, I would estimate 5-7 years old, based on the wear of the “scallops” off of the front incisors. This may be somewhat “elderly” for a coyote? They may wear their teeth faster than dogs though, so maybe he’s not quite that old. But definitely a mature male. It’s interesting to see how much longer and larger their teeth are compared to domestic dogs, definitely still designed for hunting, not kibble eating!
Below is how we skinned it. Warning: graphic pictures ensue, so only read on if you’re up for it! This post is in no way meant to disrespect nature or glorify killing, but to acknowledge that sometimes predators have to be killed, when they are making a habit of eating livestock and do not respond to gentler control attempts. When you do have to harvest one, you might as well make good use of the hide, and recycle the rest back to nature, so nothing is wasted. And learn some anatomy too. So, here’s how it’s done, or one way to go about it.
I’ve not skinned a coyote before, but found several helpful websites with step-by-step instructions. The crux is, you ring around the hocks somewhere, slice up the inside rear flanks, around the anus, and then just start peeling it inside out, like taking off a sock. We found it hard to just peel, so used knives as well. I’m not sure if the freezing process may have made it more difficult (though some websites suggest it may make it easier).
Here’s a photo of his face. Coyotes are pretty dogs. Sorry fella, but you ate one too many of our chickens!
Here I am: I got the process started. Once the hocks are ringed, you can slide a large carabiner or other hanger object between the tendon and tibia/fibula on the leg, and hang the carcass for the rest of the work. We hung him from the tractor bucket.
It didn’t take long for Kirk to jump in and help! He said it turned out to be less gross than he originally anticipated. The coyote smelled exactly like a dirty Golden Retriever that’s overdue for a bath! 😉
When you get to the elbows, you ring around those, keep peeling, then pop the legs through the holes once you are past them.
For amateurs, I think we did a pretty good job! We even managed to keep his eyelids, nose and lips intact. Kirk decided to boil the head to keep the skull for a decoration (for his desk, he said?) It’s cooking outside in a turkey deep fryer. 😛
When we were done, we checked the contents of his stomach. Yep, one half-digested Rhode Island Red chicken! :-} And some tomatoes. We offered up the rest of the carcass back to nature, and within minutes, scavenger birds had spotted the gift. Anything that remains we will compost. And our poultry can rest easy for a few weeks or months, until a new coyote moves in!