The United States are blessed with several species of wolf and coyote. The Grey Wolf, which is the largest, and the smaller, Prairie Wolf or Coyote, being the most commonly known. There is also the White Wolf, Black Wolf and the Texan or Red Wolf. In outward form they all bear a considerable resemblance to each other and their habits are generally similar in the different varieties.
Wolves are fierce and dangerous animals, and are very powerful of limb and fleet of foot. They are extremely cowardly in character, and will seldom attack man or animal except when by their greater numbers they would be sure of victory. Wolves are found in almost every quarter of the globe. Mountain and plain, field, jungle and prairie are alike infested with them, and they hunt in united bands, feeding upon almost any animal which by their combined attacks they can overpower.
Their inroads upon herds and sheep folds are sometimes horrifying, and a single wolf has been known to kill as many as forty sheep in a single night, seemingly from mere blood-thirsty desire.
In the early colonization of America, wolves ran wild over the country in immense numbers, and were a source of great danger; but now, owing to wide-spread civilization and over trapping, they have disappeared from the more settled localities and are chiefly found in Western wilds and prairie lands.
The Grey Wolf is the largest and most formidable representative of the Dog tribe on this continent. Its general appearance is truthfully given in our drawing. Its length, exclusive of the tail, is about four feet, the length of the tail being about a foot and a half. Its color varies from yellowish grey to almost white in the northern countries, in which latitude the animal is sometimes found of an enormous size, measuring nearly seven feet in length. The fur is coarse and shaggy about the neck and haunches, and the tail is bushy. They abound in the region east of the Rocky Mountains and northward, and travel in packs of hundreds in search of prey. Bison, wild horses, deer and even bears fall victims to their united fierceness, and human beings, too, often fall a prey to their ferocious attacks.
The Coyote, or Common Prairie Wolf, also known as the Burrowing Wolf, as its name implies inhabits the Western plains and prairies. They are much smaller than the Grey Wolf, and not so dangerous. They travel in bands and untidily attack whatever animal they desire to kill. Their homes are made in burrows which they excavate in the ground. The Texan Wolf inhabits the latitude of Texas and southward. It is of a tawny red color and nearly as large as the grey species, possessing the same savage nature.
The coyote is almost as sly and cunning as the fox, and the same caution is required in coyote trapping. They are extremely keen scented, and the mere touch of a human hand on the trap is often enough to preclude the possibility of capture. A mere footprint, or the scent of tobacco juice, they look upon with great suspicion, and the presence of either will often prevent success.
To avoid all human scent the trap (size No, 4) should be smoked or smeared with beeswax or blood, and set in a bed of ashes or other material, covering with moss, chaff, leaves or some other light substance.
Some coyote trappers rub the traps with "brake leaves," sweet fern, or even skunk's cabbage. Gloves should always be worn in handling the traps, and all tracks should be obliterated as much as possible.
A common way of securing the coyote consists in setting the trap in a spring or puddle of water, throwing the dead body of some large animal in the water beyond the trap in such a position that the coyote will be obliged to tread upon the trap, in order to reach the bait.
Another plan of coyote hunting is to fasten the bait between two trees which are very close together, setting a trap on each side and carefully concealing them as already directed, and securing each to a clog of about twenty pounds in weight.
There are various scent or trail baits used in trapping the coyote. Oil of Asafetida is by many trappers considered the best, but Oil of Rhodium, powdered fennel, fenugreek and Cumin Oil are also much used. It is well to smear a little of the first mentioned oil near the traps, using any one of the other substances, or indeed a mixture of them all, for the trail. This may be made by smearing the preparation on the sole of the boots and walking in the direction of the traps, or by dragging from one trap to another a piece of meat scented with one of these substances.
A large dead-fall, constructed of logs, when skillfully scented and baited, will often allure a coyote into its clutches, and a very strong twitch-up, with a noose formed of heavy wire, or a strip of stout calf hide, will successfully capture the crafty creature.