SHOULD I SHOOT THE COYOTE?

by John Gibson

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When my wife and I bought our 30 acre Texas place fifteen years ago, we wondered why the original owner named it Crazy Coyote Ranch.

Didn’t take long to figure it out. Packs of coyotes roam the area, hunting rabbits, squirrels, turtles, whatever, and they burst into spontaneous howling seemingly at random. Except it’s not random at all. The howling is mixed with the tiny screams of the bunny-class of critter as they’re torn apart alive and devoured.

My wife and I sit outside at night and listen in rapt wonder as a concert of coyote screeching erupts every few minutes out there in the darkness.

Generally, the sounds of the coyotes seem to indicate they run in packs, or a mother hunts with her pups.

However, we do have a lone coyote who lives either on or immediately adjacent to our property, hunts here, and transits the property to continue hunting on neighboring places. He or she–who knows?–operates under the cover of night has remained unseen for years. The coyote doesn’t show in daylight generally because we have dogs always on the lookout and because there is also a fair amount of daytime activity on our place that puts out a substantial racket–the tractor, the mowers, the weed trimmers and the incessant back and forth Gator traffic from the house to the barn, a quarter mile apart.

But he usually only comes out at night. Our horses are in their stalls, our cats are in the garage, our dogs are in the house. The coyote has the run of the place, and he lets us know. Virtually every morning when either my wife or I take the Gator to the barn we find a pile of coyote poop right in the middle of the road, where you can’t miss it (and yes, it is obviously not dog poop.) And sometimes we find a bloody turtle shell lying around–turtles being one of the other slow moving meals living on this place.

And when I let the dogs out at night for one last pee before bedtime they sometime bark ferociously into the dark I assume they are picking up the scent of the coyote moving around looking for dinner.

We’ve never found coyote poop near the house… except for once. There was an armadillo digging burrows into the garden, but suddenly he was gone. A pile of coyote poop on the lawn was a clue as to what probably happened.

But other than that, no intrusions into our people space. He stayed out in the fields and the woods and we left hime alone.

Things changed Sunday. It was very quiet at the house. I was reading. My wife was doing the same. The dogs were inside sleeping. The cats purring in the garage.

At one point I wandered outside and was startled to see my mysterious coyote strolling through the field right below the house. Matter of fact, he was very close to the house.

My guns were where they should be–locked up in a proper gun cabinet. No way to get one before he would be gone. So I just watched him.

Then I got a rifle out and put it on the hearth. For next time.

I planned to shoot the coyote if he were to be so bold and come close to the house again.

Actually didn’t give it a second thought. In Texas the law is that there is no coyote hunting season: “any time by any means,” is the official line. Texas and Oklahoma ranchers shoot coyotes and hang them on the fence to warn off others, and it appears to be effective.

I posted the above pictures on Facebook, implying if Mr. Coyote shows up again I’d shoot him.

Then an old friend said to me in a FB comment, “Don’t unless it’s for self defense.” Another person commented “It’s his land too.”

So then I had second thoughts. Should I let him be, even if he’s close to the house in the daytime? Something tells me no, that’s too dangerous. I have cats and dogs. I can’t countenance them getting eaten.

If he wanders around at night and holes up during the day when people and canines and felines and equines take over the property (no, they don’t bother horses, they don’t dare, those hooves are made for stomping), that’s OK by me, and I’ll leave him alone.

But if he shows up again in our space…should I cut him a break by firing a warning shot, or should I just end the threat of a hungry coyote?