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8/5/2004

Coyotes & Cows

You will recall the summer calf from a couple of days ago. I can report that momma and baby are doin’ well. I noticed them away from the herd which is not unusual. Mother cows tend to keep their calves isolated from the herd for a few days until they have bonded closely. So, the calf is eagerly sucking his mother for milk, tail wagging. You kin tell he’s happy as can be. But momma has her head in the air and ears pointed menacingly.  
A quick glance in the direction of her attention reveals her concern. A big coyote is just down the hill curiously watching mother and son. Coyotes have a reputation for stealing and killing young calves. This mother is not about to allow any kind of predator to come near her darling baby boy!  
Which brings me to one of those conclusions that tends to separate me from many ranchers. In all the years I’ve been involved in the cattle business (I started my own herd in 1972 and have been raised all my life with cattle) I have only seen one calf that was taken alive by coyotes. In my books, if a cow allows coyotes to get her calf she’s not doing what nature intended her to do. Anybody who complains of coyotes getting their calves had better get a new cow herd.  
Years ago I was walking quietly across a big pasture enjoying a late spring day. There on a hillside lay a calf sleeping in the warm sun. So, I thought to myself that I’d see what happened if I grabbed him. Jumping on the calf, of course, startled him and he began to jump and bawl. When I started this little experiment there were no cows within view, but within seconds, I was surround by three VERY angry mother cows with heads down preparing to stomp me in the ground! As I released the calf and jumped clear of the cows I could hear a commotion that was set up over the hills and valleys of that pasture with cows running and calling their calves to them. No Sir! Coyotes are not a problem in this cow herd!  
Even still, the cows seem to know when to be wary of coyotes and when not to. I have driven into a winter herd that allowed the coyotes to lie around near the herd. But, these cows did not have small calves with them.  
I sort of like coyotes. The old Trickster as the Indians called him has a character that reminds me of myself just a little. He’s a part of nature, yet everyone keeps trying to run him out. No matter how hard they try he just hangs in there loping over the hills and living the way he has for centuries. Good for him! 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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