Increased interest in white-tailed deer hunting over the decades has pushed the hypothetical gas pedal to the floor with regards to deer management. One component of most deer management plans is predator control, and coyotes get most of the attention in this category. But coyotes are smart, not easy to control. One Oklahoma deer hunter was shocked to find what his game camera found when he placed it out at his deer lease—two coyotes that kill a nice buck! If ever there was justification for reducing coyote populations, these photos would be it.
The photo shows a nice buck that is attacked and ultimately killed by two, possibly more, coyotes (more photos of coyotes kill buck). It’s a nice buck, but there must have been something up with the deer. I find it hard to believe that a buck like that could ever be taken down by two coyotes if it was completely healthy. In fact, I don’t think two coyotes would even consider attacking that deer if it was totally healthy. Most predators, coyotes included, kill the weak, sick, and very young or old. I bet this unlucky whitetail buck had to fit one of those categories.
That being said, I have read research studies on coyotes. In all cases, there local numbers are controlled by food availability more than anything else. Coyotes control is more about making you feel good as a deer hunter, deer manager, than actually reducing their impact. As long as there is ample food, primarily rabbits and mice, coyote numbers will grow. The animals will breed earlier, more often, and have bigger litters when there is plenty of food.
When the rodent numbers drop, coyote numbers follow suite. Killing coyotes only leaves more food for the ones left behind, thus resulting in more offspring. It’s just like whitetail deer management. Shooting more makes the rest more prolific because of decreased competition. It may be hard to stomach these two coyotes killing a big buck, but my guess is that this deer was not in the best condition. It’s just too bad it was so close to deer hunting season, any hunter would have been proud to fill their hunting license tag with him.
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