Take advantage of crazy coyotes Indiana hunter's deer outing goes to dogs By Don Mulligan Special to ESPNOutdoors.com — December 20, 2006 Don Mulligan holds a large coyote he killed while deer hunting in Indiana. Deer season is a mixed blessing for coyotes. On one hand, they benefit from deer carcasses and the entrails left behind by successful deer hunters. On the other hand, all that free food makes them a little loco. Normally secretive and nocturnal, the skittish canines lose their inhibition when the smell of blood fills the air. Though they are still hyper and wary, they are often seen in November just walking through the woods at midday. That is good news for hunters who value a shiny coyote pelt as much as they do a freezer full of deer meat. Others are faced with a dilemma. Is it worth shooting a coyote when deer hunting? The shot and dead coyote will surely put an end to deer hunting for the day, but a bird in the hand is often better than a bird in the bush, or in this case a buck. The problem presents itself to me every year, and this year it happened on the second day of Indiana's deer gun season. While waiting for a deer to wander by, I noticed something running through the wild rose thicket I was hunting. I watched intently, and as it neared, I realized it was a coyote. It was early, so I let it pass. Five minutes later, a second song dog trotted through, and I let it pass as well. When I heard rustling 10 minutes later coming from the same direction, I decided I was going to shoot if it was a third coyote. Sure enough, the biggest of the three walked under my tree and stopped 15 yards in front of me to check out a mock scrape I had made a month ago. I hesitated but eventually pulled the trigger. The massive male just tipped over where he stood, leaving me with another dilemma. Do I leave the dead dog on the trail in front of me and just keep waiting for a deer to come through, or should I climb down and retrieve my kill? I reasoned that the shotgun blast in the small thicket, combined with three coyotes trotting through it, pretty much assured that no deer were still hanging around. I got down, picked-up the biggest coyote I had ever shot and called it a day. Skinning the animal alone was going to take most of the morning, anyway. One of the reasons I was willing to scrap my deer hunt for a coyote is that I believe there are too many coyotes in the area I hunt. Predator management is the job of every hunter, and when it comes to killing game species in Indiana, coyotes are only a notch below humans and domestic dogs. Consider some basic facts about these evasive canines and it becomes clear how they can take over an area where they are not culled. With a life span of 15 years, coyotes reach sexual maturity in one or two years. A female will mate every year and can have up to 12 pups, with an average of six to a litter. It is also reported coyotes increase the size of their litters when their numbers are low. Most states set a liberal season on coyotes with no limits. By design, seasons typically coincide with the song dog's breeding season, deer season, and most importantly, when fur is in prime condition for harvesting. Once a coyote has been harvested, there are several ways to use the animal. Despite being labeled a nuisance or pest in the past, attitudes have changed regarding coyotes. Coyotes become less wary during deer season and killing one might end a hunt but at least it will help thin their numbers. There is monetary value in the fur and trophy value in the entire animal. All ethical outdoorsmen are strongly opposed to the simple disposal of a coyote or any animal pelt. Many hunters opt to have their coyote simply tanned, full body mounted or made into a rug by a taxidermist. Prices in the Midwest for such work vary depending on the taxidermist and type of mount. Generally, hunters should expect to pay up to $100 to have a coyote skinned and tanned, and around $400 for a full body mount. Coyotes killed with a slug gun, like mine, often sustain too much damage to the pelt to sell them commercially, but they are still good enough for a mount. Small bore rifles and shotguns loaded with BB's do less damage, and are a better choice when killing coyotes to sell to a fur buyer.