The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Don't put up your hunting rifle just yet. The colder days of mid-winter are a good time to hunt predators in northwest Missouri. Coyotes in particular are sought by predator callers this time of year.
Coyotes are found statewide in Missouri. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation website, “Coyotes live in semi-open, brushy country, along timber edges, and in open farmlands, occupying territories ranging from about 9 to nearly 30 square miles. Rabbits and mice make up almost two-thirds of the coyote diet, with other animal foods and plants (such as persimmons) making up the rest. Coyotes eat carrion as well as prey they kill themselves. While 10 to 20 percent of the diet may represent a loss to humans (livestock and poultry), the rest is neutral or beneficial. “
The peak of the coyote breeding season is late February with a gestation period from 58-63 days. Litters usually consist of 5-7 pups with larger litters corresponding to years of good food supplies. (Schultz)
Coyote tracks are smaller than people expect from an animal that weighs from 18-30 pounds being the shape and size of an egg. Coyote tracks will appear more or less in a straight line and be between 18-22 inches apart as opposed to domestic dog tracks whose tracks overlap slightly and are not quite in a straight line. The middle two claws usually leave marks on a coyote track. The first and fourth claws rarely show, unless in mud, and these can be close enough to the two middle pads as to be hard to see. You can also look for an X shape in the negative space between the pads. You can compare a dog track side by side with a coyote track on the Internet. Once you see the difference, you'll be able to easily distinguish the two. Coyote pelts have been bringing $15-$25 in our area according to some reports, but finding a buyer is the tricky part nowadays.