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Everybody hates them!
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That’s not exactly true. I personally have been a coyote hunter and a coyote protector. In my high school days, I was a reasonably skilled hunter with a pack of greyhounds. My cousins and friends and I chased coyotes on weekends with our dogs. We had a pickup truck with a railroad tie that would run efficiently through barbed wire fences. We always repaired the fence as good or better than it was when we drove through it. We carried wire stretchers and extra wire and took pride in fixing fences before anyone knew we had driven through them. We did leave some tracks that were readily identifiable and we did chores and worked off some debts at different times. I think most of our elders took some kind of pride in our success. That respect is clearly recognizable to energized kids and gave impetus to our outings.
It was not all peaches and coyotes, however. My big dog, a white stag, killed his mother fighting over food when he was 6 months old. I never really trusted him, but he was deadly on coyotes. I had some affection for his mother — she was really fast, friendly, and loyal to a fault. Things were different after that event.
I learned another life lesson from a coyote. There was a big burly coyote that lived on the edge of a dry lake. It was impossible to sneak up on him, and he was fast and wise when the dogs ran him.
He would circle that dry lake and had the stamina to outrun the dogs which are really fast in the first hundred yards or so but wear down quickly. We hunted that fellow for two years. I would go check on him in the off seasons (we only ran in cold weather) and watched him father two litters of pups.
It would have been easy to shoot him with a gun, but that didn’t seem fair. Finally, we devised a scheme with two sets of our dogs, and we caught and killed him. I can remember looking at him and deciding to quit running dogs. He taught me that it is a really bad thing to know your quarry in any intimate way if you want to seriously hunt him. Don’t ever give them a name. His was “Roho-the big red dog”.
I think some of that idea is the force behind all the organizations that practice conservation. It is really true that hunters are the backbone of Ducks Unlimited, and Pheasants Forever, etc. The Nature Conservancy goes further and allows very little hunting on their land. We that hunt appreciate the safe haven of their sanctuary areas where the game can rest and feed in a safe way similar to Pool 1 at the Bottoms where no activity is allowed.
About the only creature I can recall that has had big bucks spent in protecting it that has no hunting dollars in it to my knowledge is the whooping crane. The whole world cheers for those beauties and our marshes are shut down when they are in the area. We are so lucky they migrate through our area.
I don’t see many coyote hunters now like I did when I first got here in the 1990s. Most drive pickup trucks or hand-crafted muscle vehicles that have two-way radios and real seat belts. If a coyote breaks cover, he is usually toast.
One of the most elegant outdoor authors is Andy Russell. His skies are bluer, his water is wetter, his storms are worse and his ability to describe situations in minute detail lets you taste and feel and see in a way that very few authors are able to do.
I am currently reading “Trails of a Wilderness Wanderer” about his childhood and life in the Canadian forests. He ran coyotes with horses and dogs (Russian stags and big fast, strong dogs). I can’t fathom riding a stout pony bareback in snow following two dogs following a coyote. He had lots of train wrecks and close calls. He was also a photographer which caught my attention.
Coyotes eat almost anything. They love chickens, mice, pack rats and some house pets. They eat carrion without hesitation and are efficient hunters. They are really shy and always alert.
They sing a different song — I have heard some duets and trios that sound like a full chorus in the early morning or late evening of elk hunting in Wyoming. I have heard that howl in several different states and different times of the year. It marks the coming and going of the sun. They live to sing at the edges of the night and you can feel the union and strength of their pack when they howl and yodel.
Essex corporation on the east edge of Hoisington has a siren that goes off at 6 a.m. In the summer I walked around a section that included going by that facility. There was a pack of coyotes living on Blake Herres land to the north that responded in full voice almost every morning when that siren started. I wonder what they were thinking — but that is part of the joy of going for a walk at almost any time of the day or night in our place in Kansas. You have the time and solitude and peacefulness of the Kansas landscape to organize your thoughts and enjoy life. If the wind isn’t blowing you off the road — life is good and you can celebrate with the cheerful coyote clan.

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.