If you’re new to hunting coyotes, you may be spending a lot of time trying to find the best place to set up your stand. It can be hard to find the perfect spot when you don’t have tons of experience to guide you, and hours in the stand with no ‘yote in sight can be pretty demoralizing.
The easy answer to this problem is to hunt where there’s lots of coyotes. However, these guys are sneaky and aren’t always as easy to spot as some animals you may have hunted in the past.
With deer, for instance, some patience and observation will typically show you where they like to hang out and you can set up based on where you’ve seen them in the past.
When hunting sly prey--such as the coyote--you’ll need to find a different way to track them. A fairly reliable way to do this, especially with coyotes, is by learning to identify their scat(poop).
Read on for a simple but effective guide on how to identify most types of scat, that should give you a better handle on where your local coyotes like to spend their time.
Generally speaking, the size of an animal’s scat gives you some idea of how large the animal that produced it is.
Wolves, dogs, and coyotes are all related canids and have similarly-sized scat. For coyotes in particular this is going to be roughly an inch in diameter.
Depending on where you live, you may need to become an expert at telling the difference between the scat of wolves, dogs, and coyotes.
Otherwise, you could set up your stand in the middle of a wolf’s territory or end up with nothing but stray dog sightings to show for your hunting trip.
Unfortunately, that simply isn’t possible judging on size alone. The size is a great starting point, but not enough to tell you the difference between a large coyote and small wolf.
For that you’ll have to learn to take into account a few different defining aspects of scat.
To the uninitiated, this may seem like a ridiculous thing to consider. After all, doesn’t just about every animal you’d hunt have brown scat? How will color help??
That objection simply means you need to practice, and become more discriminating when identifying scat. If you look closely, the color can tell you an animal’s diet which is a clue to their identity.
Still unsure? The next time you take your dog for a walk, take note of the color of their droppings. Then, when you find yourself in the forest near the scat of wild animals, note the color difference.
The scat of coyotes can vary in color based on their diet, but will typically be nearly black in color. This is partly because they are passing the blood of their prey.
Color can also give you a clue as to how fresh the scat is. If you are only finding scat the appears sun-bleached, lighter, or chalky in color, then you may have just missed the party.
Exposure to sun can lighten the color of scat fairly quickly. If you only see older scat then you may be looking in an area where coyotes used to congregate but have moved on for some reason.
When identifying scat, taking note of the consistency can go a long way towards telling you which animal it came from. Is it soft, hard, pellets, tubular,etc?
Again, all canids are going to have similar scat if you focus on just one aspect of the scat. To differentiate between wolves and coyotes, note the amount of moisture in addition to the overall texture created by shape.
Coyote scat is going to have a smoother appearance than that of a wolf. This is due to a greater moisture content, and also lends the coyote scat a slightly shinier appearance.
Beyond consistency, taking note of the actual contents of the scat can tell you something about what you’re looking at. This is especially useful for distinguishing stray dog from coyote.
If you look at dog dropping, they’re going to have a more uniform consistency--this is because they eat uniformly processed dog food, for the most part.
Coyotes tend to eat whatever they can find. This can be fruits and such on occasion, but is also usually primarily comprised of smaller animals that leave behind fur and bones in the scat.
This can also give you a clue as to how well a coyote is eating, which can have an effect on how easy they are to call out of hiding.
If you’re fairly certain that you’ve found coyote droppings, but they don’t seem to contain a whole lot of fur or bones, it may be a sign that the coyotes are having a hard time finding a heartier food source, making them more likely to investigate a wounded animal call when hunting.
When first learning how to identify animal scat as a way to hunt more effectively, it is important to remember not to get stuck on just one defining feature. That’s how mistakes are made.
Think of it like a process of elimination. Color may point you in the right direction, while while size and consistency narrow the field as you consider the contents.
Together, these factors should give you all the information you need to properly identify coyote scat. Properly identifying those areas where coyotes are most active will give you a much more successful hunt.
If you aren’t sure about how this process looks in action, take a look at these videos that may help you in the identification process:
I hope you found this quick post helpful! Take a look at those videos if you need further clarification, and be sure to leave comments letting me know how the process works out for you in the end!
I am Kevin who is a founder of deerhuntingfield.com; Here at Deer Hunting Field, we want to teach and educate. Hunting is a passion which has existed in mankind since almost the beginning, and with the advent of the internet, we can now share information, tips, and more with each other faster than ever before. This is a crucial part of our philosophy.