Dr. Dave On Whitetails: Coyotes And Deer

This week’s question comes from Mark C. and it’s regarding coyote behavior.

“I shot a coyote out of my treestand the other day, and the next morning I expected it to be eaten by the coyotes that remained (there are many of them where I deer hunt). However, it had been untouched. I know the coyotes knew it was there because they ran deer by our tent all night, and we were not camped too far from my stand site. Do coyotes not eat their own? And will shooting a coyote next to your stand spook the deer from coming back?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

Mark, I cannot believe the timing of your question. I just returned from a bowhunt in Alberta where I shot a coyote with my bow in the lower front shoulder (actually probably the upper leg). There was good snow and it was easy to blood trail him 100 yards. It was obvious he would die, but he ran into the deer bedding area, so I decided to wait until the next day to finish trailing. I went in and guess what … he’d been eaten by coyotes!

My educated guess is that it doesn’t happen often with coyotes, but there were tons of them and I figure they were hungry. Bears will eat dead bears. I haven’t heard much about coyotes eating their own, but in my case it happened.

Now, regarding whether coyotes scare deer from your area … I don’t think they do. I believe deer are used to coyotes, and I know they didn’t scare the bucks from the area I bowhunted. However, a large coyote population will do damage to the fawn production. They were hammering the herd in the area I bowhunted.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com.

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

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