A Cowboy’s Faith: Calves appetizing for coyotes – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Calves appetizing for coyotes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Six coyotes no more than 30 feet away surrounded the cow with her two-day-old calf at side.”

Fortunately, the varmints didn’t come any closer to the potential breakfast as the ranch manager made his morning herd inspection. There was no loss to the cattle operation this time. However, had the calf just been born to a less-protective two-year-old heifer, the story could have been different.

While coyotes can be a serious problem for cow-calf operators, they are just looking for their own nourishment. Nature’s system of livelihood is designed for wild animals to prey on other species. When coyote populations become too large in certain locales, it does sometimes become necessary for ranchers to become involved. There are occasionally situations when ranchers hire hunters to help keep coyote numbers down to prevent calf losses.

A half century ago, the county paid bounties for killing coyotes. Each pair of coyote ears brought into the courthouse was worth $2. As now, there were a number of hunters who kept dogs strictly for the purpose of catching and killing coyotes. Childhood memories are of going with Uncle Don hunting coyotes in his little short bed Jeep with six staghounds.

Ranchers welcomed Don into their pastures to hunt the scavenging coyotes harmful to newborn calves. Every hill and draw in the big Flint Hills pastures was covered by the Jeep looking for coyotes. When one was sighted, Don tore out as fast as the Jeep would go. He wanted to get as close to the prey as possible. There wasn’t a box on the Jeep and the dogs generally obeyed the verbal command “stay.” But when Don stopped, the dogs pounced to the ground running and the chase was on.

Very seldom did a coyote win the race as the catch dog did his job. Then the rest of the dogs were there and the coyote was a goner. Don always carried a pistol to make sure the predator was shot and dead before cutting the ears off.

Community coyote hunts used to be popular fundraisers. Nowadays coyote calling contests attract high participation as sport, cash incentive and varmint control. Coyote trapping and shooting are sports for managing populations.

Reminded of Ezekiel 34:8: “Calves become mere prey, easy meals, for wolves when cattlemen ignore them. Nature seeks a helping hand.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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