Calling My First Coyote
Despite growing up on a farm in rural northeast Colorado in a family full of avid hunters, I never really got into coyote hunting. Peak coyote season coincided with basketball season. In high school, I played basketball, which meant that I went to school right as the sun was coming up and never got home till the sun was down. We typically had games on both Friday and Saturday night. Sunday meant it was time to recover, get some homework done, and get ready for the upcoming week. While I admittedly had time to coyote hunt during Christmas Break, I only wanted to be as lazy as possible until school started back up. Consequently, between a busy schedule and my personal sloth, it was not until after graduating college that I called in my first coyote.
In December 2006, I moved back home with my parents (pathetic, yes, but you do what you have to do) while I continued my job search after graduating college. Also that December, most of Colorado got hit with at least one big and several smaller snowstorms. This meant that out in my parents area where there is often little cover to hold snow in place, some areas were barren of snow, while other areas had drifts that could bury a tractor. For two to three weeks, it remained cold enough that the snow never melted enough to crust. This meant that each time the wind blew, you had to dig out the same drifts you had dug through previously just to get anywhere. With this weather pattern, I knew the coyotes would be hungry regardless of the time of day.
One afternoon, I decided that I should finally go try to call in a coyote. I bundled up and loaded up my gear including a distressed jackrabbit call I had recently purchased from Wal-Mart and my Encore sporting a .223 stainless steel heavy barrel. The roads were clear enough for me to make it to one of our pastures located a mile directly west of my parents’ house. I had planned on parking my car at the gate and walking in, and as it turned out, I could not have driven into the pasture even if I had wanted to due to the four-foot drift covering the fence.
I walked in a little over a quarter of a mile to a south-facing draw. There was a slight breeze blowing in my face, and I found a spot that offered both good visibility in all directions as well as sage brush for my concealment. After getting setup and comfortable, I waited about ten minutes before I started calling, during which time I tried to glass every inch of real estate I could see. Before going hunting, I had listened to some experts demonstrate distressed rabbit calls online, and, out in the field, I did my best to mimic their tragic concert. After the first round of calling, I resumed glassing, but did not yet observe any creatures interested in the possibility of an easy meal. I was glad that I had a watch with me because I found that my sense of time was drastically distorted by the seemingly paradoxical sensation of both heart-pumping excitement and serenity while waiting for the first glimpse of a coyote.
After my second round of calling, I was shocked to find that my efforts were working. Not only was coyote coming in, but this coyote was coming in fast. When I first spotted the coyote, he was at about 250 yards. Due to the terrain, the coyote would quickly drop out of sight and then reappear just as quickly. I got my scope on the coyote and did my best to wait for a good shot opportunity. On an open knoll about 70 yards away, the coyote finally slowed to a stop quartering towards me. Knowing that I did not have much time before the coyote figured out something was wrong, I tried to calm my nerves and steady myself for the shot.
When I pulled the trigger, the coyote dropped where he was standing. I hurried to load another round in case I needed a follow up shot, but it was unnecessary. As I gathered up my stuff, I took a moment to revel in the joy of a successful hunt. When I walked up to my quarry, I was pleased to find that it was a large male with a thick coat in full prime. As I carried my coyote back to the car, I was a bit surprised by how heavy the animal was, especially by the time I got back to my vehicle. When I showed my coyote to my dad, he informed me that I was lucky to have such a mature coyote respond so well to a call, especially at that time of day. I had the hide tanned, and I now have it displayed on a wall in my basement as a reminder of the first coyote I ever called in.