How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (2023)

Supercharge your coyote hunting abilities by learning how to identify and age coyote scat and coyote paw prints.

Scouting using coyote scat and coyote paw prints.

Every coyote hunter knows, “You have to be where the coyotes are, to call them in.” Scouting means finding a suitable habitat, then discovering undeniable proof they currently inhabit that land.

Coyotes can live anywhere, but they prefer open fields and meadows overflowing with rabbits, insects, and fruits. Once you find a place that meets that description, it’s time to scout it out.

What you will be looking for is fresh sign (scat and tracks). What you will need to be able to do is tell coyote scat (poop) and tracks (paw prints) from those of other animals and determine the freshness (age) of that sign.

Coyote paw prints.

Coyote paw prints are approximately 2 1/8 – 3 1/16 inches long by 1 5/8 – 2.5 inches wide. As with wolves, foxes, and bobcats, the rear paws are slightly smaller that the front ones.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (1)

Oh, were you hoping I would use one of those black and white drawings to show you what a coyote’s paw print looks like? Well, Edgar Lone-Wolf Kinsey kills a lot of coyotes. As a professional, he submitted this photo and suggested new predator hunters learn from real sign and not artist’s renderings.

How to tell dog prints from coyote paw prints.

New coyote hunters often find a set of prints and find themselves wondering if a dog or a coyote made them.

Thankfully, there is one surefire way to tell if a track was made by a dog or by a coyote: Can you draw an X between the negative spaces?

Here’s what I mean:

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Full disclosure: I stole this incredible tip from the wizards at:https://www.wildernesscollege.com/coyote-tracks.html.

Now, notice how you cannot make the same mark on a dog print without touching the heel mark?

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (3)
How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (4)
(Video) How to Track a Predator!

As Dustin Troutman illustrates for us, it’s easy to distinguish a wolf track from a coyote print.

Aging coyote paw prints.

When it comes to aging those coyote tracks you found, the weather in the days leading to your discovery is critical. While mud holds tracks the longest, snow is a frequent weather event during most regular coyote hunting seasons and often provides the best track aging information.

There are two degrees of freshness for coyote hunters when using aging tracks: Tracks more than a day old and 0-3 hours old tracks.

Tracks older than one day provide you with proof that a coyote inhabits the land. For most hunters, this is enough to scout out the area for an excellent calling stand location and return later to hunt the spot.

0-3 hour old tracks mean anything from perhaps still within calling range to you spooked them coming in (check the sign for galloping gait evidence).

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Aging coyote tracks in the snow.

It’s all about the recent weather. Tracks in snow start off sharp and clean. As the temperatures rise, those sharp edges round off. Finally, as temperatures dip below freezing, ice crystals develop inside the track.

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Tracks in deep snow are harder to age than those in light snow. With deep snow, you’ll have to examine the kicked-out (excavated) snow to determine its age. Excavated snow is exposed to the elements, especially melting.

You know they were made after the last snowfall if good clear tracks in the snow have no snow in them.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (7)

Has any snow built up inside the track if the wind is blowing hard enough to move the snow on the ground?

If you find the track has an icy surface in the morning, then the print froze at some point overnight.

If you find clean, fresh tracks in the morning, check for ice crystals. No ice crystals mean it’s from that morning.

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(Video) Identifying Animal Tracks

If you find a fresh sharp track when the temps are above freezing or the sun is shining, and the sky is clear, that track is new and hot. 0-3 hours.

Coyote tracks in mud.

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With mud, knowledge of recent weather still plays a critical role, but now we can add gravity to the list of things that aid you to track.

If a coyote fled minutes before you arrived and left tracks in the mud, here’s what you’ll find.

Along the outside of the print, there will be fissured walls and bits of soil. Gravity will soon pull these materials down into the track. If none have yet to fall, the print is exceptionally fresh.

As that track ages, the first changes occur in the color of the cracks and fragments displaced by the coyote’s paws. These slivers and the edges of the track will dry out faster than the print itself.

As time progresses, the track’s sharpness will dull, and its edges will round as gravity takes hold.

Eventually, debris will fall into the print, the rain will collect in it, and heavier rain will wash it away. Knowing what day it rained or when the wind would have been blowing strong enough to move debris into it will help you determine the track’s age.

Aging coyote paw prints in sand.

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The freshest tracks in the sand will have raised surfaces near the crests of their walls that have not yet had time to begin to dry out. If you find a track in this condition on windy or sunny days, it’s 0-3 hours old.

A track found in the early morning that has no dew in it is from that morning. If it has dew in it, it’s from some point before sunrise.

If the track appears fresh and dry, but it recently rained, it’s from after the rain ceased.

Read a coyote’s mind from it’s tracks while coyote hunting.

A coyote has four speed settings while traveling; walking, trotting, loping, and galloping. Each speed leaves a different track, and each one tells you something about the behavior and goals of the coyote that left them.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (11)

The most relaxed gait (the pace or manner of walking) of a coyote is called “the walking gait.” The walking gait typically results in only one foot every being off the ground at any one time. When walking, the coyote’s legs move forward in an alternating, diagonal string of right front leg followed by the left hind leg, the left front leg, and the right back leg.

(Video) Identifying A Coyote Den

A walking coyote is calm but constantly examining the area around itself. Coyotes walk around dens, when in areas providing good visibility and long-range scents, when accompanied by other group members, and when they are well fed and not engaged in hunting.

Coyote paw prints made while walking.

Direct Register Walk: Anytime the hind paw steps into the space just occupied by the front paw on the same side; this is called a direct register. The direct register walk is seen chiefly in “safe” areas (places well known to the predator), presenting other topographical problems. It permits the surest of footing and prevents tripping into holes or over other obstructions.

There are two unique walking gaits.

  1. Understep Walk: The understep walk is when the hind paw lands behind the front foot on the same side. You’ll find the Understep Walk used where male coyotes have changed guard/bedding positions near occupied dens. While it often suggests a level of great comfort on the part of all predators, where coyotes have had to slink away unseen from a potential threat, they will use this gait.
How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (12)

2. Overstep walk: The most common walking gait of a predator. A trotting predator may switch to the Overstep Walk when something catches its attention (a scent on the ground that needs to be examined, etc.).

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (13)

Two special notes:

  • If you are tracking a wounded coyote, suddenly switching to a walking gait is a good sign the coyote is fatiguing.Related: How to track a wounded coyote.
  • When you find any sign of an unwounded, walking coyote, that animal is a resident inside their territory.

Coyote paw prints made while trotting.

Trotting is faster than walking, but it requires little effort, covers more ground in a shorter time, and is maintainable for long stretches at a time. When trotting, the legs move forward in diagonal, alternating pairs, which typically results in two feet being off the ground at any one time. As a result, coyotes spend more time trotting than in any other gait.

Trotting coyotes leave tracks that are very narrow and straight.

Direct register trot:When a coyote is patrolling or hunting inside its territory, the direct register trot is its usual gait. The understep and overstep trots are rarely seen outside of some form of group interactions.

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Tracks coyotes make when moving with speed.

Loping:Loping is the first stage of running. A loping coyote typically has only one foot on the ground at any one time. Loping is almost always a sign that the animal is in some level of concern.

Coyotes will lope when trespassing, expressing dominance over other coyotes, or when dashing between open land. While hunting, loping will be used where smaller prey hides in taller grasses and low thick brush.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (15)

Galloping:Coyotes gallop for two reasons, to escape and to pursue prey. An escape using a gallop will be a straight line. Twists and turns will mark a pursuit using a gallop as the coyote reacts to its prey’s attempts to flee.

(Video) SKILLS: Animal Track Identification

When galloping, all four feet can be off the ground at the same time.

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Coyote scat

Scat, feces, poop, or whatever you wish to call it, is like snowflakes; no two are alike. Therefore, trying to determine who dumped (sorry) what on the ground can be difficult. The location, a few essential characteristics, and, if you are lucky, some tracks nearby should help you identify the animal, but there is often an element of uncertainty.

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Coyote scat size, shape, and color.

Coyote scat averages four inches in length and one inch in diameter. Tapered on both ends, it will look like a rope made of hair and bones.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (18)

Coyotes often help you locate their poop by making their scat deposit on one or more topographical features. Expect to find it in the middle of trails and along the boundaries of their territories.

Scat from a coyote is typically dark in the winter (from roadkill deer) and light in the summer (more fruits and vegetation). Coyote scat turns gray as it ages. It’s harder than domestic dog scat due to the bone and hair content and has little to no odor a human will notice.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (19)

Coyote hunting and scouting using coyote paw prints and coyote scat.

Using coyote scat and paw prints to find where the coyote live and hunt may be the missing tool in your predator hunter’s kit.

Hopefully, this article will help you find the perfect calling locations, so that every hunt ends with a track that looks like this one.

How to Identify Coyote Scat & Coyote Paw Prints | The Predator Hunter (20)

FAQs

What does coyote poop look like? ›

Coyote droppings resemble a knotted rope with multiple pieces. They're big and tubular. Coyote droppings are usually 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 3 to 5 inches long. Male coyote poo is larger than female coyote poo, measuring 6 to 12 inches in length depending on the coyote's size.

How big is a coyote paw print? ›

Tracks: Coyote footprints are oval-shaped and measure approximately 2.5 inches long by 2 inches wide. They register four toes with claws in both front and hind feet. Their tracks are relatively symmetrical, though they can show a slight lead toe/claw that allows left and right feet to be differentiated.

What is coyote scat? ›

Scats are the feces deposited by coyotes and other wildlife. Coyote scats are rope-like and typically filled with hair and bones, unlike dog scat which is soft from dog food.

How can you tell a coyote track? ›

The tracks of the coyote are more narrow and more oval than those of the dogs. Coyote paw prints have two separate claw patterns on the middle toes, whereas dog tracks have four distinct claw patterns on the middle toes. Also, the positioning of prints may aid in the identification of a dog or coyote track.

Do coyotes mark their territory with feces? ›

Unlike dog scat, which is soft from store-bought food, a coyote's feces are typically filled with the hair and bones of their food. They tend to be shaped more like ropes. Coyotes use their scat to communicate territory boundaries, so one discovery likely means that more are on the way.

Does coyote poop look different than dog poop? ›

Coyote scat and dog feces have a few noticeable differences that can help you tell them apart: Both feces are tubular and about the same size, but dog feces is soft while coyote scat is filled with fur and bones during winter and seeds and berries during summer.

What time of day are coyotes most active? ›

Coyotes are not strictly nocturnal. They may be observed during the day, but are generally more active after sunset and at night. You may see and hear coyotes more during mating season (January - March) and when the young are dispersing from family groups (October - January).

Do coyotes walk in a straight line? ›

In addition, coyotes typically run or walk in a straight line, with each paw print almost directly in front of the next and with few meandering lines. Domestic dogs, on the other hand, aren't as worried about conserving energy, so they wander all over the place, frequently crossing over their own paths.

How can you tell a dog track from a coyote track? ›

The coyote tracks are narrower and more oval than the dog's almost round outline. The coyote always seems to have sharp pointy nails while the dog is often blunter and rounder nails. Dog tracks seem to vary a lot more, maybe because there are many different types of dogs.

How do you identify scat? ›

Scat from meat is often watery. Seeds are easy to spot in bear poop, but closer inspection may reveal leaf fragments, insect parts, fish scales, or hair. Bears usually do not even chew berries; depending on the ripeness of the berry they may look much the same coming out as they did going in.

What does coyote and fox poop look like? ›

Coyote scat may be up to 4 inches long & 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Their scat may contain evidence of hair, bones, fruits & berries. Colors vary from their diet. Fox scat is approximately 2 inches long & 1/2 inch in diameter with pointy ends.

Is coyote scat black? ›

Coyote (Canis latrans): Droppings can be several inches long and full of animal hair, especially in winter when fruit is not available. Droppings will be dark due to blood of the prey. They will often be found at cross roads and along trails, as coyotes use droppings to mark their territory.

Will lights keep coyotes away? ›

Lights are another way to repel coyotes. Coyotes don't like loud noises and flashing lights. Installing motion-sensor lights, or like, launching a night club, in your yard will help to discourage coyotes from prowling there. Your neighbors will prefer the motion-sensor lights to the raging bass and colored strobes.

Do coyotes big paws? ›

A typical dog paw print is rounder. Like dog and cat paws, coyotes have four toes and a heel pad. According to the University of Illinois Extension website, coyotes make slightly larger heel impressions than dogs. The space between the toes and heel pad, called negative space, is much larger in coyotes than in dogs.

Do coyotes hunt in packs? ›

Coyotes are very social animals, they do not form packs but rather live in family groups. They will usually travel and hunt alone but sometimes join in loose pairs to take down prey. As a testament to the their adaptability, coyotes have been known to even hunt cooperatively with other species!

How long do coyotes stay in one area? ›

They always stay within 1 hour of dense forest and shrub areas, possibly to return to if they are being pursued by predators or if they are observed and scared by a human. Coyotes do not sleep in dens unless it is during the pup-rearing season.

Does dog poop keep coyotes away? ›

Your dog's feces can attract coyotes to your property, so keeping your yard or fields clear of poop can help lower the risk of attracting one.

Do coyotes pee to mark their territory? ›

Coyotes Scent-marking & Mating

Another Coyote sign to be aware of this time of year is the abundance of Coyote scent-marking, with both urine and feces. Female Coyotes come into heat, or estrus, only once a year for two to five days, in late January or February in the Northeast.

What does fresh coyote scat look like? ›

If you look at the coyote droppings, you'll see that their droppings look like a twisted rope with several segments. They're large and tubular in shape. Generally, coyote droppings are between 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, and when it comes to length, they are 3 to 5 inches long.

What does coyotes sound like at night? ›

At night, you can listen for group yip-howls of coyotes: short howls that often rise and fall in pitch, punctuated with staccato yips, yaps, and barks.

Is there an app to identify animal poop? ›

Description. iTrack Wildlife is a mobile application to identify animal traces (concretely mammals), printed in the soil through their silhouettes and numerous photographs.

What is the best bait for coyote hunting? ›

Trapping Season Bait

During the fur trapping season, the best bait to use for coyotes is some type of meat. Coyotes are attracted to beef, chicken, and most species of wild game. In addition, meat that may be less commonly found in a coyote's natural diet can also work very well, including beaver, fish and horse meat.

What color light can coyotes not see? ›

Coyotes are color blind by nature and because of this, the best color light for coyote hunting is red. They have a hard time seeing green as well, but red is a better color because it is a higher wavelength and gives you some "buffer" from the cut off of what wavelength light their eyes are able to see.

What kind of gun do you use for coyote hunting? ›

Semi-Auto Varmint Rifles

The hot set-up among professional coyote hunters is a AR-15 (Modern Sporting Rifle) with a variable power scope. The hot set-up among professional coyote hunters is a AR-15 (Modern Sporting Rifle) with a variable power scope.

What time of day do coyotes come out? ›

What Time Do Coyotes Come Out And When Are They Most Active? Coyotes could be seen at any hour of the day and night. However, they are most active between dawn and sunset. At night, when they engage with other coyotes, you will hear them howl incredibly loud.

What does coyote and fox poop look like? ›

Coyote scat may be up to 4 inches long & 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Their scat may contain evidence of hair, bones, fruits & berries. Colors vary from their diet. Fox scat is approximately 2 inches long & 1/2 inch in diameter with pointy ends.

What do racoon droppings look like? ›

Raccoon droppings are cylindrical in shape, have rounded or broken ends, and are typically dark in color, though coloration varies depending on what the animal has recently eaten. Raccoon scat is likely to contain berries, as they are a favorite food source.

What does Fox droppings look like? ›

Foxes. Foxes produce dog-like droppings that are usually pointy at one end and full of fur, feathers, tiny bones, seeds and berries. In rural areas, fox poo is quite dark, but in urban areas, where foxes eat human food waste, it can be lighter. Fresh droppings have a distinctively musky or 'foxy' smell.

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