It was a calm evening. No wind blasted and plowed over the landscape – finally. I waited for Curtis to return from work, anxious to get out coyote hunting.
Since my first coyote hunting experience – when I received a little taste of the thrill of calling in a couple coyotes – I was hooked. The more I went out, the more frustrated I became, the more humbling the experiences were, the more challenging it became – the more addicted I was to attempt to successfully eliminate the predators stalking my property.
Curtis and I agreed that, for the meantime, we should focus on our home quarter first and try to eliminate the coyotes taking refuge on our land.
The past Sunday, around 10:30 pm, from my office (on the far west side of our house) I heard Rexi growling and barking in our living room (east). He rarely barked, let alone growled. As I went to inspect, I heard the dogs going ballistic outside. Rexi was looking out the east living room window.
I opened the door, stepping out to hear a coyote in very close proximity. It was yelping, almost as if it were in distress. It was dark, too dark to see where Zena, my ½ Great Pyranese dog, was – but I could hear that she was very close to me. A wet nose brushed my hand before she barreled off to stance between me and the woods.
I yelled towards the shop for Curtis, but he was wearing his ear plugs as he welded. I ran into the house, calling him on his cell phone.
“Grab your gun and get to the house! There’s a coyote right behind the house! It’s trying to bait out the dogs! Hurry!”
I hung up, rummaged through the porch drawer for a flashlight and ran back outside to the backyard. I shone it on Zena, who was stancing on the lawn half way between the house and the bush line.
“Zena, don’t take the bait girl,” I yelled.
I shone the flashlight into the woods – a belt around our backyard. A set of eyes glowed back from the bush, then another and yet a third as I swept the bush line with light. Curtis jogged up, holding his gun while I threatened the coyotes with words that would make the devil blush.
“Get on the quad and drive onto the airstrip,” I said. “I bet there’s a bunch sitting and waiting there for my dogs, the rotten dirty ba—“
“That’s not going to help,” he replied. “If you wouldn’t be yelling at them-“
“What’s not going to help? My swearing? Okay, where’s the 30-30? I’ll go.”
“No, I mean driving the quad onto the airstrip. They’ll run and hide in the dark.”
I let out a deep breath, shaking my head and tightening my lips. “Then don’t worry if I yell some death threats at them.”
I was sick with worry for my dogs – particularly Zena. She was doing a great job redefining the boundaries in our yard, including eliminating the coyotes trek across our driveway. Her presence made them go around – the long way. She was working over-time.
I had also noticed that Zena limped from time to time, which concerned me. I asked Curtis to take her to the Veternarian clinic for an over all check up, to check her dew claws and for a rabie vaccination. I had also noticed that in the past couple of weeks, she was asking to be fed throughout the day – much more frequently. I gratefully obliged her, adding a steak as an added bonus to her dog food. Zena was healthy and I needed her to stay in prime condition.
The next morning, I rushed outside. Chancy greeted me. No Zena. I walked around the house. I called repeatedly for her. Nothing.
I waited until noon. I walked outside again. Zena didn’t greet me. I looked at her usual posts – by the bales by the driveway. Her post between the mares and the bush line directly across from our house. Her post by the barn. Still, no Zena. I called. No response. My heart sank.
Mid-afternoon arrived. I grew desperate, calling for Zena. My stomach turned.
“Curtis, Curtis.” I rushed up to him, “I think the coyotes finally got my Zena,” I said. “Did you see her today?”
He looked worried, saying, “No. Are you sure you didn’t see her this morning?”
I thought for a moment, shaking my head. “No. Not since last night. They finally got my Zena.” I whimpered on the verge of tears.
I called for Zena again, jogging towards the shop. She revealed herself, calmly rising from the tree belt around our garden beside our backyard, trotting towards me and slowly wagging her tail. I slumped my shoulders and bent my knees in relief.
“You’re posting by the garden now,” I said to her. “You need to answer me. I thought they got you last night – but you’re too smart to fall for their tricks, aren’t you?” I grinned at her, patting her sides before taking her head in my hands and scolding, “You better answer me next time.”
The coyotes returned the following night…
Coyote Serenading Strategy & Preparing The War Horses
Now, I watched as Curtis pulled up in front of the house. With our babysitter already here, I picked up my pace looking for my calls. Curtis opened the door to: “Let’s go!”
He grinned, saying, “We’ll only have about an hour and I need to eat something first.”
“Grab a sandwich. Let’s go.”
I was successful at keeping my mouth shut as we walked. I hurried, gaining a few paces ahead of him. We ventured around the bush line around our house, looking for tracks. Curtis spotted some, pointing to them with his gun. I nodded. We walked further and I pointed to the direction I wanted to go behind the shop and barn – in the 20 plus acres fenced off.
Quietly and quickly, we made our way. I was about to sit when Curtis whispered, “Sky line-“ I put my finger to my lips, and drew my eyebrows together. He snickered. I motioned for him to shush as he pointed to walk a little further down the gentle slope.
We positioned ourselves lower on the small hill. I waited a few minutes before starting our electronic caller, selecting a distressed jackrabbit. One of our mistakes in the past may have been starting our prey calls too quickly after arriving. I was also careful not to crank the volume on high, after watching “Coyote Tactics: Locating, Set-ups, Calling” with Don Laubach, Ryan Laubach and Merv Griswold. [www.elkine.com]
Branches cracked in the bush as a flock of small birds flew up. Curtis and I looked at each other, motioning it was probably a deer. We waited in silence. My skin goose bumped as an eery feeling blanketed over me. I slowly scanned the bush line with my eyes, listening carefully. It felt as if I was being watched.
I switched the call to a distressed cotton tail rabbit. Waited. It was growing dark, fast. Curtis and I looked at each other, motioning to call it a night. The idea came to me to play the lone coyote howl. Three separate groups of coyotes began a chain reaction of serenading back. I switched the call to a coyote serenade, joining them.
Curtis nodded his head as I whispered, “I want them to think that another group of coyotes got the rabbits. Then, maybe next time, when they hear the rabbit calls they’ll think that they need to get to us before another coyote does. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s worth a try.”
Curtis agreed, adding, “And, we can get to a few more posts with the quad now.”
“Too noisy. I thought we agreed on horses. It’s legal, isn’t it – to hunt coyotes on horseback?”
“You can carry a gun, but it can’t be loaded. Just like in a vehicle.”
“I’ll double check the rules, to make sure. I wouldn’t carry a loaded gun on a horse anyway. And, I wouldn’t shoot off of one, either, just in case.”
“Remember the rule in the mountains – never shoot over your horses head.”
“No kidding. Who’d do that?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“Anyway, it’s time to get the riding horses tuned up,” I said.
Just like maintaining a vehicle of any kind, riding horses needed maintenance also – a couple refresher rides to work out any potential kinks, regular deworming, hooves trimmed, additional mineral and vitamins and a nice warm shower. The best part about riding horses out in nature is that you are able to get very close to all kinds of wildlife.
For good measure, and to bring our young sons minds at ease, I grouped their Arabian riding mare with my two Arabian riding horses in a corral by the barn. Trustee mounts. Horses originally bred for their courage, sureness, intelligence and loyalty to their riders. War horses.