Updated: Mar 9, 2021
In the continuing adventures of our hero, we find a small obstacle in his path. Will it lead him to his quarry? Will it play the role of red herring and lead him astray? Or will it perhaps lead him to his untimely doom? In all likelihood none of the above, it is however an example of the kinds of signs one looks for when scouting or hunting animals in the wild. When looking to find a prey animal their droppings or scat are key indicators of several things. First, that an animal is indeed present in an area. Second, determining the freshness of the scat will allow the hunter to know how long it has been since that animal was present at that location. Third, it indicates what the majority of the animal's diet consists of.
I have no doubt that I have missed several things about what scat can tell a tracker or hunter, but I can only relay what I am currently aware of. In this particular case, we can start with the fact that most of the other hunters I contacted concluded this particular scat came from a coyote. We'll go into a little more detail on general information on coyotes shortly, but for now, let's focus on what we can learn from this particular scat. You can't tell from the picture but this pile is in the middle of a road not off to one side or in the bush at all. Since finding this pile I have learned that placement of scat is an indicator the scat came from a bobcat or coyote. This is one of the ways they often use to mark their territory. In addition, we can see this scat is tubular similar to a domesticated dog. The difference however is the abundance of fur in the waste, which is a strong indicator of the animal being a carnivore. Aside from what I listed here, I have no idea what kind of poo that is. Many of the people on the Facebook groups I am a member of claim it is coyote so I'm pretty confident that is the truth. In time as I continue to explore the outdoors and scout locations for hunting and gathering I will develop the skills needed to identify poo myself without depending on the internet and I hope those of you following along with me or joining us later will find it useful as well.
Now about the information, I promised you on coyotes. There is actually a pretty good information base available on the state fish and game website here in North Carolina. I have provided a link below that will show profiles on many species of game and nongame animals in the state. If you just have to have some information about coyotes now, however, keep reading. Coyotes have the widest range of any canine species in North America. While their habitat was once limited to the plains of the western states, the expansion of humanity as well as the decrease in other apex predators such as wolves and bears has allowed them to grow in number as well as range. Coyotes are a very adaptable species that has been known to inhabit every kind of climate and terrain available in North America, including portions of some subterranean areas.
In appearance, the coyote resembles their canine cousins, but are slightly larger than the average dog yet smaller than a wolf. Here in North Carolina, the coyote and the red wolf are often mistaken for one another. The typical coyote diet consists of any prey animal they can capture and kill as well as any fruits and berries that can be found in their local ecosystem. Since they're generally considered a nuisance animal there is no closed hunting period for the coyote, sort of. Hunting of coyotes is legal year-round with no bag limit as long as you are on private land. In most places, the coyote can even be hunted at night. It should be noted here that the private land must either be owned by you or you must have written permission from the landowner. This written permission must be renewed every year. On public land or game lands as they are called her in North Carolina, generally you can only hunt coyotes during another open hunting season. I say generally because some game lands and even some counties have their own rules they apply to coyotes. If you plan to hunt anything, but in this case coyotes, make sure you read the regulations digest for the county, and or game land you will be hunting in and abide by all federal, state, and local laws.
Some hunters only hunt the coyote because its an invasive or nuisance animal. Others desire the pelts or trophy mounts. Very few hunt the coyote for meat. The taste of the coyote like the taste of just about anything will vary depending on who you are discussing it with, how fresh it is, how it is prepared, and the relative age and health of the animal. Since my main purpose of hunting is meat I will most likely try coyote meat at some point. Stay tuned to see how that experiment fares.