Thursday, February 02, 2023

WA: Family Account of Coyote Depredation and Control by Rifle Fire

Back pasture. Wooded area in the red circle is where the coyotes were shot.

A decade or more ago, a middle aged couple in Washington State settled in on some acreage near the Hood Canal. They started raising chickens and sheep. All was going well, but coyotes started showing up, killing and eating their livestock. There was a wash/intermittent stream/ravine at the back of one of their pastures. It was a coyote highway through the area.

As the problem got worse, they obtained a McNab dog. He was very effective at chasing off coyotes. The population of coyotes kept growing. There was a nearby marina, where the coyotes were able to obtain food. More housing was moving into nearby suburbs. The coyotes had access to lots of pets (cats and small dogs) for food. The numbers of coyotes became overwhelming for their dog to defend against.

The coyotes were taking an average of a chicken or two a week. You do not want to lose a laying hen, just when she starts to produce.  The final straw was reached when the husband witnessed a pack of coyotes pull down and kill one of their oldest producing ewes. Call him Grant. Grant's wife told him that was enough. She said: Do what you have to do to protect our livestock. The coyotes had become so numerous, they would see them every day. They would hear numerous coyotes yipping and howling at night. Grant did not have experience as a hunter. He was and is a shooter and a thinker.

Grant formulated a plan. It was well executed.

There was a hog slaughterhouse not too far from their acreage. Grant obtained  a hog's head. He securely attached it to a steel cable.  It was tied above the ground, in the wash at the back of the acreage, so coyotes would have to jump, and make noise, to reach it. He could see the area from his porch.

On about 16 September in 2019, Grant was working at home, on a Friday. The pig head had been hanging for four days. Grant heard them yipping a bit before noon. Coyotes were at his bait. Grant grabbed his AR15 type .300 blackout pistol. It had a 7.5" barrel with a brace, and was equipped with a Yankee Hill Machine suppressor. The .300 was loaded with supersonic 125 grain ammunition. The coyotes were about 100 yds out. They were not cautious. Grant said they were nearly as unconcerned as feral dogs.

Grant stepped out through a sliding glass door, onto his porch.  He took up a position on the back porch, using the post rail of the porch as a support.

There were three bigger coyotes and two smaller ones. The bigger ones were jumping up and trying to rip the flesh off the pig head. He caught the biggest coyote in his Romeo5 red dot, and fired. As the first coyote dropped, Grant put the sight on the second biggest and fired. Down it went. As the second dropped, the third of the large coyotes took a moment to look at them. With the third shot, the third coyote dropped and the two smaller coyotes were out of sight and gone.  The sequence of three shots took less than three seconds.

Grant immediately retrieved the carcasses. He covered the blood spoor with lime, and covered the lime with soil.

With this early success, Grant's two grandsons volunteered to help stop the coyote threat. The grandsons were about 28 and 30, named Garrett and Chris. They had AR15 type rifles in .223/5.56 caliber, without suppressors. One was equipped with a Holosun red dot, the other with a Vortex red/green dot.

The three men installed a battery operated, motion detector activated, light at the bait. They put up a Cabela's trail camera as well. They were gathering intelligence about the coyote's schedule and habits. The coyotes came back at about 2 a.m. two days later.

There were at least four of them.  The light and camera caught their presence. No one was standing guard. The grandsons volunteered to stand shifts to watch at night.

The following night, Tuesday, the coyotes did not show up at 2 a.m. They showed up at 4 a.m. Garret was standing watch with his AR15 type rifle.  The rifle had a 16 inch barrel, chambered in 5.56, equipped with the optical sight. He shot two coyotes before the others took flight. One coyote came back. Garret shot his third predator.

Two days later, the pig head was getting very ripe. The three men were working on fencing at about 10 a.m. when they heard coyotes. Garret and Chris grabbed their rifles.  Garret ran to the back porch where Grant had shot previously.  Chris went to the edge of the barn, where, crouching down, he could see into the area from another angle. There were about seven coyotes.  Chris got two and Garret got two. They retrieved the bodies, and performed the same drill with  lime and soil over the blood. The distance was about a hundred yards. These coyotes were mid-sized to smaller.

A few days later, the light went on about 1 a.m. Grant got a lucky shot with the .300 and took out the eleventh coyote.  It was the last coyote they shot. The bait was much decayed by this time.

There were no more stock taken by coyotes for over a year and a half. 

Due to tragic circumstances outside the families control, they sold and moved to another location.

Predators have always been a bane of man's struggle to survive and gather or grow food.  They are direct competitors for many of the resources man desires and lives from. Larger predators are direct threats to man and his children.


Throughout history, there are many examples of people claiming the circumstances they have not lived, are much better than the circumstances they are living in. It is a form of "the grass is greener". Today, those who know little of, or who have become captivated by, the idea of a "nature" they experience through the lens of advanced technology, often declare nature to be far more virtuous than civilized and/or technological, society.

"Ecological" and or "Back to nature" promoters are seldom willing to give up the advantages of technology for themselves. Researchers helicopter in for days or weeks, eating processed foods and warmed in advance tech clothing, enjoying the benefits of advanced medicine, and leaving. Tourists visit, photograph, and leave. Many satisfy the desire to validate their preformed viewpoints.

Those who do not have to live with predators have a much higher opinion of predators than those who constantly need to guard against predations.

It is a modern myth that pre-literary tribes loved big predators. They respected them, their danger and their power. They did not want lots of them around them and their children.

Modern technology has increased man's power to control animal populations, especially large predators. The idea of a "balance" in nature is a myth. Predators and prey seldom live in balance of near-static proportions. Instead, predator and prey populations tend to climax and crash. Man, with modern methods of game management, can moderate those cycles, to the benefit of man and animal populations alike.

Predators will increase their populations until they run out of food or until another predator or disease keeps their population in check. Man is the most humane manager of animal populations, far more humane than starvation or disease.

Predator populations, in the modern era, become a threat to humans and their property only because humans who do not live with the predators restrict other humans ability to control the predator populations they are forced to live with.

Predator populations can be controlled to the level where they exist in areas set aside for wildlife (and the enjoyment of humans), without undue threats to humans and their property.  The obstacle to management is the mythology such management is "unnatural", "evil" or "speciest".  Hunters have a level of confidence, skill, and independence many of those in power see as a hindrance to their ability to control society. Hence, hunters are denigrated.

Animal populations do not control themselves. Management of the natural world can be accomplished by man, if man takes up his responsibility to do so.

Man must acknowledge his dominance over animals. To do otherwise is to deny reality.


©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Glypto Dropem said...

My predator problem is a pair of red foxes. They have not taken any hens for months but are still in the area according to my sightings and video footage. The scoped .30-30 lever rifle stays handy in case they find a way through the reinforced fence. And last night I heard a large coyote barking and howling sounding more like a wolf (no wolves in CT) in the rear of my property. If I see it near my fenced in yard I will plug it, too.