Top level predators like coyotes and wolves are considered some of the greatest hunters in the world. Cunning, stealth and the ability to stalk prey are all characteristics shared by the Canis genus.
In our region, the ever ubiquitous eastern coyote or ‘brush wolf’ as some call them, have adapted nicely to living off the fat of the land. Small mammals, scavenging and white-tail deer compose much of their diet. Whether hunting solitary or in packs, where there are deer, the eastern coyote will not be far behind.
Sometimes even closer than you (& the deer) realize!
In the above photo, you can see a doe walking in the tall grass behind my deer feeder. I have two does hanging around the back these days – one a yearling the other one an older female.
Here in this pic you can see the other doe approaching the feeder (from the right) while the first deer strolls across in the background.
A minute later, the two does can be seen facing each other in a stance which appears to do with proper eating etiquette. When deer feed together, hierarchy usually takes over and the older more dominant animal will usually eat first. It looks to me as though the older doe is explaining that fact to the younger one. (Ears held back are a give-away)
Anyhow, I hadn’t even noticed at first that while the deer were distracted, something was watching them from behind. I tried zooming-in and back tracking through the images I had gathered from that evening to figure out what it was.
Something was behind them and it wasn’t another deer! You can see a pair of eyes at the top-middle of the image.
In this photo taken a couple of seconds later, you can see one doe glance over her shoulder to another set of eye peering at them from out in the field.
In this next image the deer have disappeared and the strange visitor suddenly makes an appearance from the left.
A coyote had been stalking the two deer and got to within 50 feet, by my calculation, before the deer had even realized. The coyote hangs out at the feeder for a moment before taking off himself.
It just goes to prove that whitetails literally need eyes in the back of their head to stay one step ahead of theses pesky coyotes. In this case, the two deer were evidently distracted allowing a predator to close-in to within 50 feet of them before they saw it.
Footnote: The two deer showed-up a couple of days later alive and well, after an up-close-and-personal visit from their woodland nemesis!
Interesting what you’ll find on your trail cam images sometimes….
Here are some neat photos Rick took of a deer standing its ground with a coyote:
Here are a few stills grabbed off the video of the coyote stalking the deer and the deer then stalking the coyote. The video is 13 minutes long.
The first shot shows the coyote walking bye a forkhorn. The second shows the coyote stalking the bedded buck with a second shot showing the coyote under the red arrow. The third shows the coyote closer to the bedded buck Notice the buck is aware of the coyote. The last shot shows two bucks stalking the bedded coyote.