Footsteps of a Killer

Warning. The images posted may be disturbing.

During the first few days of March, we found the bodies of three coyotes on the leased property along the Washita river. It appeared they were shot the day prior. We figured the owner of that property, a friend of ours who leased the property to us for an extended wildlife release area, may have shot the coyotes since he also kept cattle on the land. But in the days that followed, we found three more bodies scattered on the leased property. Forrest called the owner and verified he had not been the shooter. With that, we checked our game cameras for evidence of a poacher/trespasser. Sure enough, the game cameras had recorded photos of the killer. He had been on our property as well as the leased property, though we had not seen any sign of killing on our land. Of course we did not venture out into our property to do a thorough investigation. The mosquito population was massive, and snakes were already out and about. All of the death we had seen was along fences on the leased property, and the photos showed the hunter on open and cleared paths. Whoever the hunter was, he seemed to be sticking to paths of least resistance.

The Black-faced vulture is a common cleanser of the earth. We see them often in our woodlands.
The red-faced turkey vulture is the most common of the vultures in this area. We see them most evenings roosting in our pecan orchard. This pair roosted in a pecan tree in our backyard.

This female was the first body to be discovered on the leased property.
These were the second set of coyotes we discovered. Forrest suspected these males were lured to the area with a distress call. It’s unlikely to find two coyotes side by side in a single shooting.
Forrest found these two laying together while looking for antler sheds along the Washita river. That dark, muddy spot in the distance is a wild hog wallow.
While investigating further onto the leased property, Forrest spied this male victim in a cattle corral south and east of the river.

Both day and nighttime game camera photos showed the trespasser to be on foot, and by the gear and rifle he carried, was perhaps calling the coyotes to him – luring them maybe with a rabbit-in-distress call. We also wondered if he was from a nearby RV park, and part of a group of wind farm workers, who were erecting structures south of town. We notified our game warden and texted him the photographs we had. Nearly every day we made treks along the property fences and the leased property, looking for more coyote bodies, and any tracks or footprints to discover how and where this man was getting on the property. In early April, I found two more rotting carcasses along one of our fences on the west end.

The coyote killer comes through our west end gate. It’s interesting he carries a tripod along with his rifle.
The trespasser ventures into our property in daylight hours on a Sunday – not far from the pecan orchard!

While I have never been a fan of the coyotes, mostly because of the danger they pose to the fawns we rehabilitate, I was unhappy to see that we had a trespasser who was killing wildlife. We had not noticed any other species, like wild hogs, being taken out, but there was a possibility that he was shooting other wildlife. Unfortunately, in spring the woodlands become a jungle and tangle, making a lot of investigating impossible. Since early April, we have not seen any signs of the trespasser on game cameras, nor the smell or sight of rotting carcasses. On one hand, I am thankful for the reduction of the coyote population in the area. Most of the victims were males, but a few were females. That means a little less procreation going on for the coming year. And, with the recent knowledge that Scout and Ruthie are expecting babies, I feel a little more relaxed about their fawns and the local wild herd’s fawns surviving the birthing season. On the other hand, however, trespassing/poaching is a criminal act of disrespect, which we will not tolerate.

These were the last two victims discovered along our south fence line.

© 2021 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


41 thoughts on “Footsteps of a Killer

  1. Sad, the shootings but I hear you about the mixed messages. We have a similar problem with coyotes and mountain lions being hungry and coming into residential areas and carting off pets. I am glad that you got the shots from your game camera to the game warden.

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    1. You are correct about that, but I assure you there is still a very large population of coyotes. We hear them singing and whooping it up with noise every night from every direction. We see their scat all along the pathways on our property. I doubt this man put much of a dent in the population. The irritating thing is, we have “no trespassing” and “private wildlife sanctuary” signs all along our property fences and also on the entries to the leased property. He would have to be blind to miss seeing them!

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  2. As a principled gun owner would not violate other people’s property or kill wildlife wantonly, there is no basis to consider this man trustworthy in general and armed as he is, he is perhaps a danger to more than the coyotes. I hope wherever he has gone, he is revealed and brought to account.

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    1. Fortunately, we have not seen this man on game cameras all through the month of May. I wonder if the game warden visited and inquired at the RV park near here on the river, and word got out. We, nor anyone we conferred with, recognized the man. We’re fairly sure he is an out-of-towner. You are right about responsible gun owners and mindful hunter’s for that matter – they would never violate other’s property nor would they kill wildlife in a posted “sanctuary”.

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    1. The particular cameras that we have all over our property, are not designed to send alerts but this violation did prompt us to invest in the type you mentioned. Unfortunately, those are quite costly – but we plan to get a few more as we can afford them. The game cameras we currently have are a bit of work to keep up with – replacing batteries and collecting camera cards every few days. They have been extremely helpful in learning about the wildlife traffic in areas, trespassers, and even a few thieves! We have worked with the police in the past, finding neighborhood thieves who sneak through the alley and run through our property.

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  3. There is something very unnerving about someone coming onto your property with the intention to do harm, even if it is to coyotes. It feels like they might not respect other wildlife or even your safety if push came to shove. We don’t have problems with guns or hunters here but with home invasions and it feels much the same and is very unnerving. Keep well.

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    1. I agree – unnerving is a good word to describe how I feel. We have “private wildlife sanctuary” signs posted all around the property, along with “no trespassing” signs. We also have “security cameras used” all around too. I will say since word is out that we use cameras, the dumping of trash in the alley over our fences has stopped. In this day and age with everyone using security cameras, I’m surprised this guy was so bold to venture into the property.

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    1. It wasn’t a big deal at first because we assumed it was our cattle rancher friend or one of his work hands who was out doing cattle and fence checks. But after the first few coyote bodies were discovered, and the bodies being found in pairs, we knew something more was going on.

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    1. We have not heard from the game warden, but I know he was going to contact local authorities and also check a statewide database of prior offenders. We didn’t recognize him nor did anyone else in the area. I suspect the killer may have moved on for now. The Washita river covers quite an area along the outskirts of town, which is where we suspect many of our rehabilitated deer venture to the second year after release. I’m just surprised with all of the signs we have posted around here about no trespassing and especially the “private wildlife sanctuary” signs, that anyone would step foot on the property.

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  4. This is appalling.
    Trespassing is a crime. Even if you hate coyotes/and their place in the eco system, all this killing for sport on others’ property is a crime.
    People who slaughter like this are often dangerous in other ways
    Can you post the daylight pix on local blogs/websites? Inquire at gun stores? (Actual sportsmen would not approve of the trespassing- legal gun owners are the ones most likely to follow the law.) Are there local hunting/sport writers in the area that might write a column for news paper? Bound to be some “guns are dangerous”/pro environmentalists -ecosystem people who might help publicize and find this guy?
    Could be someone who want deer predators gone so there will be more deer…to hunt.
    Whomever it is, he’s probably pretty smug about getting away with it – despite the fact that is on your property
    Society only works when all agree to follow the laws…sadly far too many think they know best and are above the law.
    Good to watch out for mosquitoes and snakes right now…not to mention stray bullets
    Applause for the cams

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    1. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get into the mind of this fella and know why he’s done this? I’m always fascinated by the psychology of life. I didn’t think of it before but your mention of watching out for mosquitoes and snakes is maybe the reason it’s too unpleasant for a poacher to be out and about!

      We are letting the game warden and local authorities deal with this guy. We’ve found that often the more noise one makes about something like this, it invites more trouble. Sometimes I like to think along the line of, “be the snake in the grass and wait for the moment to strike”!

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      1. You know, regional instinct is always better.
        Considering the wide opinions about the value wolves and coyotes
        The guy may think he’s doing everyone a favor ( and you tree huggers and deer lovers are clueless, so he’ll take care of the problems for the community….sigh. We all know those…)

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        1. Oh yes, there is that – justifying illegal acts for the “good” of the system. I have no idea why this guy has done what he has. I just can’t imagine with signs posted about this being a private wildlife sanctuary and “no trespassing’ and “security cameras in use” signs, that he still stepped foot on the property.

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          1. You said it correctly. No sense in tangling with someone who has a dark side. The game warden was pretty sure the guy is from out-of-town, working on that wind farm south of town. The RV park is on the river that runs next to the leased property. Easy on and off for him to walk from the RV park without anyone knowing. We figure he uses a silencer.

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  5. I have a cropped and enhanced image of the face of the man. It might be good enough for someone to recognize him. Email me and I’ll send it to you.

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    1. Thank you. You may send it to littlesundog@gmail.com. It’s been a month or more with no killing activity nor game camera photos of this guy, so perhaps he’s moved on. The game warden has the photos and has notified local authorities and is checking a statewide database, so we’ll see if he has any luck.

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    2. So far according to our cameras, the activity has stopped. Of course I don’t know a sane person who would walk around on the river bottom nor the orchard property at this time. The mosquitoes and snakes are awful right now. We can’t even drive through in the Kawasaki Mule without being attacked by the skeeters!

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  6. That second picture looks very identifiable and I hope the authorities are able to do so. Possibly the hunter thinks those coyotes might have been taking some of his animals but he should shoot them, if he must, on his own land. It is also possible he just thinks coyotes are bad and should be killed much as some to your north think of wolves. I imagine it is unsettling to know someone is walking your property and that which you rent killing animals. What is to stop him from taking your recues? I hope you have posted since this happened.

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    1. Forrest thinks like you suggested – that he may just enjoy the sport of killing coyotes. Coyotes and wild hogs are a real problem here, and we know that despite locals taking some of them out on personal property, they’re still plentiful and it hasn’t put a dent in the population. This is not a local man that we know of. And he’s entering the property on foot. That is why we wonder if he’s staying at the nearby RV park (along the river) or perhaps the city park just a few blocks from here. There are often out-of-town folks passing through, and workers (used to be oil and gas, more recently wind farm construction people) so it could be this guy enjoys killing in his spare time. Fortunately, we have seen no activity on the game cameras since April.

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    2. With all of the signs we have on the property, he knew better. I’m thankful for today’s technology with game and security cameras. We’ve managed to solve some thefts in town as a result of capturing the perpetrators on video.

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  7. That is TOO creepy. I would not mind hunters coming onto my property for turkeys or something useful, and would not even mind if they did not bother to ask (if they just happened to cross the property line without knowing it), but a gate in indication that one should ask permission. Is there some justification for shooting the coyotes? If he is a neighbor, and the coyotes are a problem for livestock, that would make sense, but he would still ask for permission. If he is working temporarily on the wind farm, he likely has no interest in livestock there. . . . and that tripod? Well, I am stating the obvious.

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    1. It’s one thing to cross property lines unknowingly, but we have signs posted all along our fences and gates as well as the leased property. He’d have to be blind or illiterate not to see them! Whatever the case, at least we’ve seen no signs of this guy in more than a month. Meanwhile, we’re beefing up with a few more security cameras.

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  8. If he’s suddenly absent, it may be that facial recognition has done its work, and he was identified and dealt with. Strolling onto your property in full daylight wasn’t the smartest thing in the world; even the poacher and road shooters around here know better than to do that.

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    1. I agree that somehow he got word we are on to his presence and activity. If the game warden visited the RV park, or he approached the nearby wind farm construction sight, it could be that just word getting around tipped him off and he’s stopped roaming our area. I’m thankful he’s quit.

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  9. I’m speechless. Legal and necessary culling is one thing. Animal deaths always make me sad -even the collateral damage of our current mouse plague in the humanest instantest traps we could buy. But ignoring signs and cameras shows blatant ignorance. I’m guessing he thought he’d be long gone… leaving the evidence of his arrogance behind.

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    1. I wonder if sometimes the act of getting by with something, and continually doing it, lends a person to be “blatantly ignorant” and careless about the activity. And the way most of the coyote bodies were laid out in pairs, along well-traveled paths, makes me wonder if he left them there intentionally. It’s obvious that we patrol our property and the leased property often. Well-worn (tire tracks) and mowed paths would indicate human presence, so I’m not sure why he traveled those same paths and didn’t think he’d get caught. And then, maybe the thrill of maybe being caught was part of the equation. I guess we’ll never know.

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