Coyote Courtship, by Walkaboutlou

[Here’s a “Holiday Special”!  Hope it makes you smile as much as it did me. ]

Hi Janet,

I recently spoke with a good friend and ranch patriarch. His sunset of life is nearing. His fire turning to warm coals. But he is very comfortable and content. His sons all have taken up ranching. And ranching in time honored ways as well as innovative. One of these…is leaving coyote alone.

For over 90 years, coyote have not been allowed to be hunted or harassed on this vast ranch. They were taught…almost like dogs…lessons. By the ranchers and LGD and a culture of mutual respect..and enforcement…coyote have thrived here. The land has been utilized in ways that spacing and wild areas are maintained or created. It really is a place of balance for livestock and wildlife.

The Patriarch, especially..enjoyed coyote from childhood. He has known every coyote pack and most coyote there his whole life. He knows their family history and eras.

One story he loves to relay is watching a young coyote he knew since pup pick her mate after weeks of male courtship.

The images added to this story are not the of coyotes written about, but hopefully they will trigger your imaginations as to how those coyotes might have appeared. This is what I imagine  two-year old Chica to look like.

She arrived at a clearing in December, away from her very strict and territorial parents. She was almost 2 years.

She would mouse and listen to calls. Answer with her own. Within days..a pattern developed. She would arrive early..mouse and lounge…and the males would come. 1, 2, 3…….3 males eventually. Following her. Laying about her while she rested. Trying to play.  Trying to lure her away. Trying to disperse each other as rivals.

Each afternoon, she returned home. The courting males stopped at edge of her territory. There, Chica would endure hip slams from younger siblings, and slams from mother. Her mother seemed incensed by Chica’s scent of other males.

Chica would flee apologetic..and rest faraway from pack.

And the next day….same all over.

For over a month…this happened.

The Rancher noted the males. Handsome was new and big and very impressive. Big and robust. He was taller and bigger than most coyote. And had a grayish hue instead of the tans.  Then another male, named Zip. He seemed so fast and very restless. He literally trotted circles all day around the others and seemed almost overheated. The 3rd male was Slim Jim. Widowed in past year, 8 year old Slim Jim was outclassed a bit. His tattered ears and dull teeth didn’t better his impression.

The males increased competing. No fighting but definite jockeying for position and time with Chica.

Late January, only Handsome and Slim Jim were at hand. Zip had left…seen miles away days later. Slim Jim had bite marks on face. Hmmmm

The males followed Chica endlessly. She stopped going home. But Handsome seemed the right choice.

But then…Handsome and Slim Jim fought very briefly. It seemed Handsome won. But then he was pushy and aggressive to Chica in the next few hours. She ran from him. And Slim Jim hovered about. When Handsome was distracted, Slim Jim quietly groomed her neck. Just a moment.

That evening Slim Jim returned, JackRabbit in mouth. Chica ran to him and begged. He dropped the whole prize to her. And when Handsome tried to smell and take some…Chica turned on him…joined by Slim Jim.

They drove Handsome away hard. And with the jackrabbit and subsequent Handsome drive off…they became united.

Tattered Slim Jim had won a mate. He seemed renewed. His coat improved with her attention and grooming in the weeks to come. And Chica got to be Queen of a large and good territory.

The Rancher says seeing the courtship is one of his favorite memories. He had no clue….selection could take…..weeks!

Slim Jim and Chica showed him…every coyote..has real stories. Like us.

Enjoy the stories Janet!

Lou🐾

The images added to this story are not of the coyotes written about, but hopefully they will trigger your imaginations as to what those coyotes might have looked like. This is what I imagine Tattered Slim Jim to look like.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Febre
    Dec 25, 2020 @ 00:14:23

    This truly warmed my heart! Thank you for sharing, Lou!!

    Reply

  2. Jo Thompson
    Dec 25, 2020 @ 00:22:56

    Thank you, Walkaboutlou, for this marvelous, revealing love story. I was rooting for Slim Jim and not at all surprised that he won her heart. What a wonderful way you have of showing us the true nature of coyotes. Thank you!

    Reply

  3. Sandra Orr
    Dec 25, 2020 @ 12:46:58

    What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it. Thank you for teaching your sons to live with nature.

    Reply

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 26, 2020 @ 19:38:10

      Hi Francis —

      Thank you for contacting me, and for your very detailed descriptions of what is occurring. You are right: the coyote is not “playing” with the dog. The coyotes are “messaging” the dog to leave them alone. The “play-bowing” is more of a “testing” situation. Rather than writing this all out for you, I’m going to suggest you carefully watch from 36:31 to 30:40 of my SPCA presentation on precisely this: https://youtu.be/mr8XmM1bi70.

      The nip to your dog was from the back (they seldom approach the dog’s front where the teeth are) and probably was meant to be only a pinch. The coyote isn’t out to maul the dog, he/she is simply trying to get that dog to leave. But neither is the coyote trying to “play” with the dog.

      Dogs, on the other hand, find coyotes enticing to chase — as if they were squirrels. Even shy dogs enjoy this activity.

      If this isn’t helpful, or if it’s only partially helpful or even confusing, let’s talk some more. And I’ll be giving a Zoom presentation on December 29th at 5 pm which reiterates this information. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll send you an invitation. Happy Holidays! Janet

  4. kessler
    Dec 27, 2020 @ 17:44:36

    Glad Tattered Slim Jim won… Yay! It’s Goggles!:-)llm

    Reply

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 27, 2020 @ 17:51:13

      Yes, the coyote in Walkaboutlou’s story definitely reminded me of Goggles, and in fact, the female reminded me of Goggles’ later mate, Belle! It might have been the same situation. :))

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