If you ever get the opportunity to hunt an area that’s full of coyotes, you’ll quickly find that it really pays to stay constantly alert to what’s happening around you. I was reminded of that the other day when my snowshoes took me into the back end of a cattle operation where I spooked two coyotes while walking in.
Neither coyote appeared badly frightened, no doubt, because they were used to people feeding cattle; I reasoned they wouldn’t go far. Therefore, I parked myself at the corner of a high wooden fence and waited 15 minutes for the world to calm down. It was about 400 yards to the line of trees where the coyotes had disappeared, so I began with a diaphragm call and some high-volume vole squeaks. It didn’t take long for one to break out of the trees and come my way. At 148 yards, I put a .20-caliber, Nosler 40-grain Ballistic Tip into the ‘yote, dropping it into the snow. But just before expiring, it did some ki-yi’s that pulled two more out of the trees.
I tried similar sounds, but they wouldn’t commit to entering the open pasture that was my kill zone. The laser reported 357 yards to the nearest one, which is a stretch for my .204 Ruger, but I dialed the distance into the scope and gave it my best try. That coyote went down, too, and I had a pair on the ground. I snowshoed their way and hooked a rope onto coyote No. 1, which turned out to be mangy, and dragged him over to No. 2, where I found a similar situation. With no skinning in their future, I took some time to examine both, trying to determine how the Noslers had performed. This probably took me 5 minutes. Apparently, hunched over in white camo, I just looked like a big lump of snow—when I stood up, there was a coyote standing in the open field, 60 yards away.
The coyote saw me the same instant I saw it, and we both froze. It was 50 yards away from the safety of trees, and my rifle was 5 yards away, leaning against a fencepost. I’m pretty sure I heard a church bell ring just then (at least that’s what happens in Clint Eastwood westerns) and we both made our move. The coyote clawed for traction and I scrambled for my rifle. I’d like to report that I drilled it in the nick of time, but the truth is it beat me like a rented mule. Rats! See what I mean about staying alert?
With that humiliating episode behind me, I set up the two dead coyotes on a section of wooden fence and snapped some photos. Here’s what it looked like:
As we all do, I reviewed my photos on the camera’s LCD screen and, when satisfied, tucked the camera back into its pouch. This time, however, I took a careful look around before standing up … and managed to spot another coyote. I could see it through the openings in the wooden fence, beyond my staged coyote bodies, traveling in my direction along the treeline. Crawling to the fence and retrieving my rifle, I watched this new coyote until the wind started to act like it might betray me. With the rifle steadied on the fence between the two dead coyotes’ front paws, I shot the newcomer at 67 yards. That’s it under the fallen tree limb in the photo below.
I learn slowly, but this time I was fortunate enough to get a second chance at correcting an attention-deficit error. When you’re hunting coyotes, it pays to keep your head on a swivel and watch what’s happening around you—all the time.