Sunday, June 7, 2009

the accidental coyote hunt

Living out here, I find that I have done a few things I never thought I would do.

This morning, Luci went out to check on the garden, and after a few minutes she started hollering for me to come outside. When I went out, she said she had just seen a coyote chasing down a baby deer just outside the opening where our back gate should be. I rushed back in the house to grab my boots and the shotgun. (We have a .410 Remington semi-automatic shotgun that we inherited from Luci's father. It is probably too small to kill the coyote from any distance, but the wound might do it in.) So I ran off into the woods where they were headed, assuming I would not find anything in our overgrown back pasture.

I walked to the edge of the first fence that separates what used to be two pastures and figured whatever was going on had moved on. BUT! As I turned to walk down the fenceline to get into the far back pasture, the coyote came around a corner through a little animal trail that snakes through the woods. I stopped, and he stopped, and as he started to growl or snarl or whatever I raised my shotgun and took a shot. He turned and darted in the bushes. It lasted about a second.

My wife says I should leave out the part of the story where I shoot at him (since I missed) but that doesn't bother me any. I know it is harder to hit a moving target than people often think, and I don't spend a lot of time shooting. I would have been happier to hit the little bastard, but I was just happy I had the gun.

See, that's a first for me. Never before today I have thought "Hey, probably a good thing I had a gun with me." The deer was about fifteen feet from me on the other side of the fence--I could see it bolt when I fired at the coyote. I realize coyote's gotta eat, but I won't feel bad killing 'em either.

I would imagine that the coyotes have been snacking on the rabbits in our yard, and now that they're all gone, the coyotes have had to start in on other food sources like the baby deer. On one hand, the coyotes keeping the deer away from my garden could be a plus, but I think these guys have to die. Either I am gonna have to man up and do it myself or get someone more experienced to do it for me. I just don't like the idea of my kids outside with them so close to the house.

Oddly enough, I know a genuine coyote killer. I met him a couple of months ago when I was working for the Census Bureau. We started talking after I entered his address into the computer and I mentioned that a few of our chickens had been eaten by coyotes while I was in Las Vegas last October. Luci called my one night after I had been out having a few drinks with the guys to tell me that there were wolves in the yard. To be honest it took me a while to wrap my head around that. This is not a call you get every day. Anyway, most likely they were coyotes. Department of Wildlife said wolves are extinct here so go ahead and shoot 'em. Anyway, Al-the-coyote-killer told me he only hunts coyotes and foxes anymore. He enjoys it because they are not easy and well, kinda dangerous.

Al explained the basics of coyote hunting. I guess you can either use a call or (and this sounds like more fun), a gut bucket. A gut bucket is exactly what it sounds like. Find a metal bucket or other container that you can close but has holes in it, and fill it with the nasty guts of something else you killed and leave it to rot and smell where you can wait a little ways off and get a clear shot. The calls come either electronic or blown. The problem with blown is that you are drawing a pack of hungry coyotes to yourself. Could be problematic. The electronic you set where you can get back and get off a clear shot.

I never pictured myself with much interest in hunting, but I must say it is kind of exciting. There is something about being out in the woods with a gun that makes you feel as if you need it. The same way a walk with a walking stick in hand has different feel to it.

I wouldn't really want to kill anything just to kill it, but to put food on the table or protect my kids, I wouldn't feel bad about it.

A few years ago I was working in Vegas and I told one of the guys that I was broke. He was an old timer and he asked if I was going home to go hunting for food. When I said no, he shook his head and said, "You ain't even close to broke yet."

As for protecting my kids, someone from the city might think that the coyotes are not really a threat, but I doubt they would want their neighbor's angry Rottweiler hanging around their front yard.

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