"There are people who still enjoy wearing furs. I'll pass them out to the homeless if I have to," hunt organizer Mark Chavez said in an interview.
Chavez, 50, owner of Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, has faced two weeks of protests from people who said he was organizing a mindless slaughter, not a hunt in which the animals would be used for food.
In addition to pledging to make use of the pelts, Chavez said he has renamed the event to more accurately describe it.
"We're not calling it a coyote contest anymore. It's a coyote management hunt," he said.
Chavez says he likes to hunt mule deer, but their population in New Mexico has dropped by two-thirds in the last 50 years, to about 100,000. In that span, coyotes adapted and flourished, in part by preying on fawns.
The hunt has purpose in keeping wildlife populations in better balance, he said.
Many have urged Chavez on, calling his detractors tree huggers. But none of his explanations has satisfied critics of the coyote hunt. They have organized on websites, in person in Los Lunas and on the opinion pages of newspapers.
Cindy Roper says she is happy that coyotes roam and howl near her home in Santa Fe County. She called Chavez's event an excuse for bloodlust. "I don't disagree with their right to hunt or to bear arms.
The hunt is legal. It is not right, Roper said.
Wendy Keefover, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians, said opponents could not stop the hunt. New Mexico allows hunting of coyotes every day of the year.
But, Keefover said, the attention cast on Gunhawk Firearms had exposed its contest as something most state residents would not embrace.
"My guess is that the amount of interest generated by the event has hurt the contest's sponsors," she said. "Most New Mexicans are vehemently against contest hunting. We know that even gun owners and hunters oppose this."
Chavez said nearly all the protesters were from one demographic.
"For the most part, it's been a lot of women," he said. "Probably 90 percent of the people against this are women."
Though the state allows unlimited kills of coyotes, Chavez's hunt has brought a warning from a federal agency.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management sent Chavez a letter telling him that he needed a permit for a hunting contest on its property.
Chavez has promised to award the team with the most coyote kills a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.
Since receiving the BLM's letter, Chavez is telling contestants to avoid its land. He said the U.S. Forest Service had not contacted him about any such restrictions.
To properly manage the hunt, Chavez said he decided to limit it to 60 teams of one or two people. Each team paid a $50 entry fee.
These hunters will help small-town economies over the weekend, Chavez said. Purchases of gasoline, meals and supplies will be good for businesses, he said.
But Roper said the hunt will extend a daily shame in the state - people killing coyotes for no good reason.
She said coyotes are a magnificent part of the New Mexico wilds. Deer are but one part of their prey, she said. Near Cerrillos, where Roper lives, she says coyotes check rodent and rabbit populations, and eat as many berries as they can find.
"I have a love for the natural world, and I can see it from my backyard. It bothers me that coyotes are seen as cockroaches," she said.
The hunt will end at 2 p.m. Sunday. Chavez said had not decided whether he would release the total number of kills or the winners' tally.
"Hunting is very private for me. I don't really flaunt it, going down Main Street for people to see," he said.
As for hiring a taxidermist to convert the coyotes' pelts into clothing, Chavez said he cared not about the money it will cost him.
"This was never about profits," he said.
Rather, he said, he took a stand for the rights of hunters. An Albuquerque gun shop initially announced it would sponsor a coyote-hunting contest, but backed down in the face of protests.
Chavez said his shop and staff had remained resolute, even after receiving a written threat and one called in from a pay phone.
The threats were reported to the FBI. Now the hunt goes on, Chavez said.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at email@example.com or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com