Stalked: A Coyote Hunt

Late one afternoon, I decided it was a good day to go out. I loaded up my equipment and set off for the mountains, determined this time to nab a yote! It had been a year since my last encounter with them wily coyotes and I had been chomping at the bit to get another chance. The season had just reopened and I was ready to try again. I had practiced all summer and I had brought my “BowTek Predator Series, TomKat” compound bow this time. I was up for the challenge and I was stoked.

This wasn’t my first time in the forest that year and I had located more yotes on the other side of the mountain. I love those mountains! At anytime in the year, I prefer to spend my time on those pristine mountains. When I’m there, I like to imagine that I’m the only one in the world to ever have discovered them. I’d picture the spot where I would build my shed, I’d even survey where the trail would be that would lead to it. What I wouldn’t give to one day have a piece of land of that caliber. Not even to have it my possession, per say, but to be able to leave this world behind and live like our forefathers did, like the animals do now and like some, in my opinion, fortunate folks do.

Would I be happy? How would I trade? People don’t trade for fur anymore, we barely trade for food anymore; it’s all about money isn’t it? In my opinion, life is not supposed to be dealt or traded for money and we can’t do anything right! In our pursuit of happiness and self-improvement, we destroy our chances of true and pure wholesomeness.

As I approached the chosen spot of the day, I was eager and excited about the prospects that lay ahead. It was a bright and sunny fall afternoon, crisp leaves boasted beautiful colors and glorious splendor and the afternoon warm from the autumn sun. As I got out of the truck I heard a crow speed away sounding his alarm, floating effortlessly in the cool breeze.

He cried out his alert for the forest, as if mocking me and wanted the entire forest to know about my presence. I wanted to pop him for his trickery, but I enjoyed watching him soar into the breezy autumn afternoon, besides I only had my bow and I figured the yotes where snoozing the lazy afternoon away anyway and they wouldn’t notice the pestering alarm of a single annoyed crow.

One thing I have learned is that coyotes on the prowl will listen for a frenzied crowd of crows, who unwittingly signal an easy meal to any predators nearby. The yotes will sometimes come in and run off crows and steal their catch if they have one, or what they may have stumbled upon. So, I started to walk down the old logging trail heading west towards the sun, I had planned on a long hike so I packed water. As usual I had plenty of camo, and pictured myself totally invisible to any passersby, even the keen eye of the turkey couldn’t see me, well, so I imagined or played along as such. After a long hike, I ended up in the area I preferred.

The trail curved around the ridge of the mountain and below me was an open forest of oak and hickory. The trees weren’t giant trees, mostly, but a few could have been a hundred or so years old. Above me was the pipeline, chocked full of briars and thick brush; that was where I had picked my quarry to peek his head so I sat under the tallest bush in the middle of the curve and scraped the briars back to clean the area of rocks, for comfort, of course. I then positioned myself facing the wind and in the correct angle to get the best view at the shooting lane, well, my best guess anyway. But, in the off chance they might come from below, I could still draw my bow and comfortably shoot at that angle as well. And after some struggling and rearranging, I was finally ready, so I waited, anxious that this time I was going to do it!

After a few hours of calling and calling; giving all I had to every yip, and every howl, I reluctantly decided that maybe I wasn’t going to be seeing one after all, and so the self-doubt and the analyzing began. What did I do wrong? Did I get enough scent blocker? Am I wearing enough camo? Had they come from an angle I couldn’t see and saw me first? Are they even hungry today? Did I only spook them with my incessant calling? Of course I answered optimistically to all of the above, but where were the coyotes?

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity a squirrel sounds an alarm in the distance. “Hey, what was that?” Naturally I looked in the direction of the squirrel chatter and thought to myself, “that was no ordinary bark!” The specific sound reminded me of a squirrel I had walked up on earlier in the season as it barked at a screech owl. Was that a distress or alarm call? I know they bark at everything but could I really tell the difference? And sure, he could easily have been barking at another squirrel over his lady. But I kept my hopes high. Anyway, the coyote never showed his face and I attributed that to the fact that I couldn’t see him, if he was even there at all, and my imagination had gotten the best of me, again! So when it began getting dark, I headed back.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that, under normal circumstances, I could wait till dark to leave my stand. But tonight I had hiked a little farther than usual and less than half of the distance back, the black of the night began taking hold. I couldn’t see a thing! Luckily, most of the time I do remember everything so I remembered that I had my headlight. As I put it on I got to thinking about a story about a guy and a bear. I wondered just how many bear were out here and how close they could be before I noticed them in the dark. It didn’t bother me too bad, only that I didn’t have a gun tonight I had only brought my bow! In a jam and in the dark I knew there would be no way I could be in the least able to grab an arrow! Even if I was able to do that in time, there would be no way for me to load that arrow and then still have time to draw back, aim and fire before anything had me. I continued walking as I shrugged my imagination from taking over.

Nearing the truck, I noticed something ahead of me. I could just barely make out the silhouette of something moving from the right and into the center of the trail, precisely in my path. And at that time I had been relying on the moonlight and the stars for light, attempting to save my dying batteries, and too, the moonlight serves my peripheral vision better. Anyway I reached up to turn on my light when I heard something below me to the right! Then I heard it, the subtle shrill a coyote giving a small but piercing yelp.

What was he doing so close? I wondered as I switched on my light. Immediately the area to my right and left went black as all I could see was directly in front of me. Staring right at me, were two bright yellow eyes, glowing like neon signs in the darkness, they couldn’t have been twenty yards in front of me! Quickly, and instinctively I reached into my quiver and pulled out one of my arrows, armed with a 4 blade broad head, and loaded my bow. Why? I don’t really know, I just did. So I continued forward a little slower and as I did the animal slinked up the embankment of the trail and over about ten yards ahead and stopped in the tree line. He stood and watching me as I walked up to his side and looked back at him; he never moved. I heard the other one behind me and below as it stealthily approached closer towards me. Turning my lamp towards him, I could only see his silhouette, but his fierce eyes penetrated the night with ease and gleamed a sinister glow in the light of my lamp.

I decided it was time to get to the truck and as I inched away, they followed me. I had no idea what they were doing for this was completely strange! One thousand and one thoughts went through my head as I tried to understand the situation. I still wasn’t convinced on what exactly they were until one of them let out a blood-curdling howl and then I knew I wasn’t dealing with dogs! I thought to myself, “What are they doing? Are they just curious or are they really sizing me up? No way! Impossible!”

I decided to see what was up so I raised my bow and pointed it to the one above me. I knew there was no way I was going to hit it in the dark, but I thought if I did hit it I would finally get one, besides, these yotes were doing something strange and I was fed up with the unknown so I drew back and released.

Crack, was the sound as my arrow whipped past the yote and lodged itself into a tree somewhere in the night. Those beady eyes turned and ran down the hill a few yards and froze again. The one behind me didn’t move. I assumed he took off when the other retreated, and I didn’t want to give away another arrow so I continued walking to the truck, watching closely at my heels. The night seemed to get hotter and hotter as the moonlight lit the trail and an eerie silence took hold of the forest. Hurriedly, I walked back. The only audible sound were my footsteps in the crackling leaves, the crickets singing their love songs in the night and the spooky sounds of two coyotes following close behind.

Usually when I reach the truck, on a normal night, I’ll unload quietly and take my time before getting in, but not this night. I quickly got in and unloaded inside. And as I drove down the mountain, I thought about the night’s events in detail, or as much detail as I could remember and I realized they had most likely been watching me since I left the stand! Probably trying to figure out what I was doing and why I sounded like a coyote. Surely they weren’t actually sizing me up for a meal, normal coyotes just don’t do that; and for two of them to be involved, they weren’t sick? They may have been interested in some kind of a smell or just plain curious but whatever the cause; I have never and probably will never again, be stalked by coyotes! And I will certainly never forget it!

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