Coyote Skinning

CoyoteAndMaggie 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!

CoyoteFace 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.

CoyoteSkinningIt 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.

KirkCoyote1 Here is the final stage, of cutting off the base of the ears and eyes, to maintain the look of the face in the final hide.

KirkCoyote2And here is the carcass, completely skinned. An impressive sprinter body! And look at his full belly! I wonder what could be in there? Hmmm.

CoyoteSkinnedFor 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. 😛

CoyoteSkinWhen 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!

11 thoughts on “Coyote Skinning

  1. Doris says:

    A friend read an article to me recently where two coyotes killed a woman running a trail alone up in Canada. She died after she got to the hospital.

    So I imagine, he’d of weighed more if he were in better condition.

    I also read of a woman who stopped a pit bull that was attacking her goats, by wrapping her shirt around her arm and stuffing it down his throat. Well something like that I don’t remember the details exactly. But I know I would never even have thought of something like that on my own. Certainly I never turn my back on a dog that is behaving aggressively. As far as I know any dog will chase anything that will run from it.

    So, are you going to brain tan the hide? or what method will you use?

  2. workingcollies says:

    Doris, I think this was a pretty average sized coyote, he looked normal for what we see around here. And though his skin and fur were in poor condition and he was lean, he wasn’t skinny. And he had a five pound chicken in his tummy! 🙂

    I read about the two coyotes that killed Taylor Mitchell in Canada last month. That is extremely bizarre, I’m anxious to hear more analysis of what they think happened. From what I have read, coyote attacks on humans are very rare, and they mostly make attempts on small children, and usually aren’t “successful” in their mission. For them to challenge an adult human, and win, is almost incomprehensible (and very tragic, of course!)

    But I would imagine, as you say, a lot has to do with the reaction of the human. Coyotes are clever, and we know all dogs, even domestic ones, have a very good “read” on human fear, and the smell of our adrenaline.

    For people like me who are truly unafraid of them, and are thinking “if I get a hold of your thirty pound butt, you are going to be sorry!” they are probably not going to try to take that on and risk their safety. On the other hand, if they encounter a person who is paralyzed with fear and/or runs from them, they may think “hmm, it’s big, but it’s obviously terrified, maybe I’ll give it a shot.”

    You are definitely right about shoving a fist down the back of a dog’s mouth, that does work; it disables them from being able to close their mouths enough to bite hard. But yeah, I don’t know how easy that would be to remember if one was trying to chew you up!

    Re: the hide, we area going to send it out for tanning. I might like to learn to tan at home sometime in the future, my sister was very good at it when we were kids. But we don’t have a good indoor spot to do it right now.

  3. jomegat says:

    I guess coyotes are skinned almost exactly the same way as rabbits then. That’s how we did it when I was a kid anyhow (except we would just remove the head all together). I tanned several rabbit hides back then. Step one was to turn it inside out on a 2×4 and scrape off the flesh. That was the disgusting and tedious part. Once that was done, I’d salt them down for a day. After shaking off the salt, I’d cover them in alum for a month. I still have those skins 30 years later, so it must have worked!

  4. Lucy says:

    I was wonderin about the back side of the coyote’s canines, do they have a sharp edge to them? I mean kind of like how a knife edges off? I have a dog that has some pecuilar behavior. In many ways he reminds me of coyote behavior, and his teeth ain’t like our other dogs. He is a mutt, we found his mother as a stray so we don’t know anything about her. They both have very, very strong prey instincts tho, and some ”coyote-ish” features. i haven’t had the chance to examine a coyote jaw personally… So i’m askin you. 🙂

    • workingcollies says:

      Lucy, I didn’t see any “serration” on the edges of the canine teeth, if that’s what you mean. They looked pretty much the same as my dogs’ teeth, just a little longer. And I think the pre-molars were a little more developed. I’ve heard dog show people theorize that purebred dogs are evolving a diminished set of pre-molars (sometimes with some missing)- perhaps either a random mutation, or because they just don’t need them anymore with their kibble diet. (And on shorter muzzle breeds, often teeth are dropped because they don’t fit…) I was curious about it too, and checked out the coyotes teeth thoroughly!

      You may well have a coyote hybrid, they do happen. I’m actually surprised that people don’t do them on purpose more, as I think they would be a more desirable hybrid than a wolf hybrid (if wild animal hybrids desirable at all, I mean, and I’m not sure that they should be…). Their smaller size would make them more physically manageable, and the coyote’s particular cleverness would be interesting to have in a pet (if not obnoxious!). Some nights, my intact female border collies “sing” with the coyotes late at night. We joke, that would be our worst nightmare, if they got bred by a coyote through the fence- a border collie x coyote mix might be far too clever with a weird mix of prey drives! Oh boy! 😀

  5. Isaac says:

    Do you also eat dog meat? Was curious, I know a few ranchers that practice the ‘SSS’ and slaughter/butcher/eat the dog.

    • Michelle Canfield says:

      Isaac, LOL, I think carnivores are not known for good flavored meat. 🙂 I believe in cultures where they do eat dog, they cage them and manage what they eat. I cannot imagine what coyote would taste like, with all the rotten crud they are willing to scarf down! I will say, when I boiled the head, our chickens thought picking the meat was delicious! 😛 The SSS refers to “shoot, shovel, and shut up”- so that “S” means the dog was buried with a shovel, not sauteed! ;-D

  6. Isaac says:


    There are a few cultures that do that, and practice it here. In Orange County CA I came across a screaming that was so darn loud I had to investigate. I stumbled upon some immigrants torturing a dog. Most of its organs were spread around the floor and they’d cut the muzzle off, tied the legs, and had it upside down. I called the police, as I was NOT foolish enough to challenge 7 full sized men. Not sure if anything came of it.

    After research its common for them to torture the dog for an extended period of time, for numerous ‘medical’ or ‘health’ benefits.

    I’ve come across ranchers who shot dogs for any reason, without good grounds. I’ve first hand witnessed this twice, once with an obvious pet (collared, good shape), another with a dog that appeared lost. Niether had caused mischeif. The individual burned ones body (I am sure of this) and I’d imagine buried the other. I knew the owner…..I advised him what had occured. He confronted the individual rancher who denied it, sadly my name was brought into the fold.

    I had two of my tom cats poisoned, and my dog (a rottweiler) was also in the ER after some anti freeze (she lived three more years with extensive damage). The only benefit is the original dog owner….took a long walk one night, with a .22……

    I certainly understood his actions, tho I do not think destroying so many calf’s was justified. I do believe that rancher thought more carefully about killing dogs without cause in the future.

    people have legitimate rights for punishment. I am only glad nothing of this sort has happened to me. I now live again in the ‘burbs’ but REALLy miss the peace that you ONLY find in the country side. I miss the yips and the yaps the coyotes make the most.

    Thank you for you’re response ma’am.


  7. Isaac says:

    Oh, and I am very familiar with the ‘SSS’ policy in the country side. But a remorseful dog owner also practices a very similiar form, without the shovel. A good wind and some time will blow away all evidence.

    This is why my dogs are always contained, and are unlikely to harrass animals. Not saying this would prevent an unethical rancher from shooting on sight….That would be an issue for me. but than, with the ‘SSS’ I’d frankly never know…..and that would be the most bothersome of all. I would not begrudge someone for protecting their own, self defense is an inherent right of all critters.

    but human’s can make a choice on ethical, moral decisions and unethical ones. I pray there were more folks with common sense such as yourself.

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