The area that I am hunting has a lot of coyotes in it. Last year a shot my deer and lost sun light so I had to back out and return the next morning. When I found my deer at first light, it had been devoured by coyotes, absolutely no meat at all. I still taged the deer and ended my season. If this happens again, am I required to tag this deer, or am I able to continue hunting?
The short answer is yes you will need to tag the deer if you are keeping any part of it. While not common there are times when folks are unable to track down the animal they have mortally wounded prior to nightfall. In your case where you returned the following day and were able to locate the animal it is unfortunate that the coyotes had found it during the night and devoured it. However this is part of hunting. As is shot placement, selection, passing up shots in low light and tracking skills. I appreciate your ethical and lawful decision to tag the animal. If you are retaining and/or taking any part of the animal into your possession, head, antlers, meat or hide this is the correct step to take. The unethical sportsman might leave what was left of the animal and continue to hunt for an additional deer but in reality he has already harvested his deer.