It doesn’t take new predator hunters long to figure out that coyotes love to hang around herds of cattle, sheep, deer or anything else that has the potential to be a food source. Find a herd of something and you’ve found coyotes—it’s that simple. I hunt around cattle frequently and thought I’d share some tips for dealing with the unique challenges they present.
In my part of the world, cattle will usually react to a hunter’s presence by wandering in for a closer look. I suspect it’s because they hope I might have a salt block or a tasty hay bale in my backpack. I never have either, so they’ll just stand around and moo at me. On more than one occasion when trying to call coyotes, I’ve had a herd stand around so close that it was impossible to even see an approaching predator. I call it “getting cowed,” and now, whenever possible, I try and avoid letting cattle know I’m present. I find it’s more productive to sneak past them or keep a good fence between me and the herd.
If you do have livestock visible in the distance while calling, it’s worth keeping an eye on them because they will often clue you in to an approaching coyote. Horses tend to be much better at this than cattle, although I’m not sure why. Like birds, both cattle and horses can work as an early warning system, alerting a hunter to an approaching coyote.
Safety is always a concern when shooting around cattle. Unless you want to hand a rancher a check for a thousand dollars, it’s a good idea not to put a bullet into a cow. The rule to follow is easy to remember: If there’s livestock in the background, don’t shoot. A prime, fluffy coyote scrounging for lunch in a herd of cattle is a tempting target, but it’s always best to separate him from the herd before punching his ticker.
The two photos in this post show the same coyote. It was called out from a herd of Angus cattle that were out of sight in a small valley. Of course, after shooting this one, I kept on calling in anticipation of a double. No more coyotes showed, but the rancher pulled into the field with his tractor and the cows immediately came up out of the valley in hopes of getting fed. With the herd now in the background, that stand was finished. However, the rancher was tickled to see me standing over a dead coyote not far from his herd, and I got the big thumbs-up from the tractor seat as he rolled by.
Killing coyotes around cattle has its challenges, but it’s where ranchers and farmers need the most help, so it’s easily worth the effort.