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January 3, 2014

Coyotes specialize at disturbing peace

The Daily Star

---- — Cállate translated from Spanish means shut up.

That’s where our name for the coyote originates. The early Spanish settlers in the southwest grew tired of hearing the wild dogs’ yodel and howl all night, so they would yell, “cállate, cállate.”

I hear them quite often at my house. It doesn’t bother me. I like listening to them.

Back in the early 1980s, I saw my first coyotes while driving along East Road out of Speculator back into the International Paper Company land. We heard them singing and calling to one another many nights while in camp but hadn’t seen one yet. That is, until a pair of large dark gray coyotes crossed the old road a couple hundred yards in front of us. We heard them again that night.

Later in the week I harvested a big male while hunting near Rock Pond. He weighed about 70 pounds. It was raining and I was heading back to camp with the collar of my hunting coat pulled up around my neck. I was heading down the trail and he was coming up. The old dog had his head down, dealing with the weather, but I had the gun.

Today I don’t bother with them. I see them on my hill quite often. I just let them pass. They’re out hunting the same as I am.

Thursday I was on my hill and couldn’t believe the number of coyote tracks in the snow. They’re everywhere. I’m sure that a few coyotes will make a lot of tracks, but there must be several of them in the area.

The coyote is a very resilient animal. Ranchers out west would certainly agree. They’ve shot, trapped and even poisoned them and yet there seems to be just as many around as the year before. Around here, guys hunt them with dogs and take a significant number every year. Still, there seems to be just as many this year as last.

They say if the food is plentiful and the coyote numbers are down there will be several pups in a litter. But if food is scarce and their numbers are up the litters are very small. Nature has a way of balancing things.

Our coyotes are far different than those in the west. I was hunting elk one fall near Grand Junction, Colo., and one of the guides shot a big male coyote. It was small compared to ours. That big male was lucky to weigh 35 pounds soaking wet. Back when my wife and I operated Woodland Taxidermy, I skinned a lot of them that weighed between 60-70 pounds. The Eastern coyote is crossed with the wolf and it’s here to stay.

The next time you hear them out in the woods or in the back meadow, enjoy it. I think their melodious song is rather beautiful.

Perhaps beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

Note: As many of you have heard there are groups of feral hogs that have moved into the state. Previously there has been an open season with no bag limit on them. Recently the DEC has changed its ruling and has banned hunting and shooting the wild pigs. They find it hinders their trapping efforts of eradicating this evasive creature that is invading New York.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at