Many of my friends in the online hunting community received an email forward recently that shows two scrawny coyotes attacking and killing a mature, healthy-looking whitetail buck. There was also another one of a cougar killing a big buck near a deer feeder. So this led many people to proclaim the opposite of what we usually hear from anti-hunters and armchair biologists: that predators prey on only the weak, old or sick animals. This email seems to lend credibility to disproving the following myth:
The Myth: Coyotes and other predators only prey on the sick and weak.
The Investigation: Before we believe an Internet email that was forwarded by dubious sources (the last time I believed one I nearly sent my life savings to help a "friend" in needwho was trapped in Nigeria) we need to ask the experts rather than assume this email is legit. (The deer could be sick, or the photo could be a fake.)
The Expert Deferral: Larry "Mr. Whitetail" Weishuhn is a degree-holding wildlife biologist, and probably more importantly, has literally spent a lifetime in the outdoors studying whitetails and coyotes in their natural environment. So I asked him if average coyotes can killdeer, including mature bucks.
"Yes, coyotes do kill healthy adult deer! No question about it," said Weishuhn.
For a second opinion, I asked lifelong hunter, trapper, Colorado game warden and outdoor writer photographer/writer Judd Cooney.
He said the same thing. "I have seen it [a coyote killing a mature deer] with my own eyes on many occasions," said Cooney. (He’s got the photos to prove it.)
The Conclusion: Myth busted. Despite what classroom biologists or anti-hunters with anti-predator-control agendas may tell you, coyotes and other predators such as mountain lions, do routinely kill large, healthy deer.