On Friday night my brother-in-law John and I went coyote hunting. That's right, coyote hunting. We went to the old house on Pratt Road and sat in the deer blind on the top of the hill. The sky was clear, there was no wind and the air temperature hovered around zero degrees. We got settled in the stand, fired the propane heater, opened a pint of Bacardi rum and killed our headlamps. As my eyes adjusted I observed the surrounding light pollution. Lansing and Dewitt to the South, St. Johns to the North and Ionia to the West. To the East, the moon rise; a beautiful golden brown color. We worked the electronic coyote call a few times and laughed at how ridiculous it sounded. We commented at how it had taken me 7 years to actually "hunt" anything on my property other than woodchucks and possums. A few more calls from the electronic device and then suddenly we heard a pack of coyotes burst into a fit of howling, yipping and barking. It sounded as if they were spinning around in circles like the gears and pulleys inside a clock. They were within a few hundred yards. We both grabbed our guns and pointed them into the enveloping darkness. Silence.
The moon cast tall shadows in the field before us. We called back and patiently waited. I heard an owl in the distance. Over my right shoulder, I heard a passing car on Airport Road. The tires crossing ice, dry pavement and ice again made rhythmic sounds. To my left, in the light of the moon, I could clearly see the leading edge of a high cirrus cloud formation; a mare's tail, my most favorite. I watched it drift in front of the moon and then out of sight. Directly in front of me, the 15 ft. high brush pile that I still need to burn. In the silence my mind drifted back to 2004 and our first October party. The 25 ft. flames from the bonfire illuminating stacks of pallets nearby. The sound of the clutch spinning on the old Allis-Chalmers tractor. The smell of the pig roasting over fresh apple wood. The sight of Maria's pregnant belly. The droves of friends and family that attended and their smiling faces.
In the distance a dog was barking and as I drifted back I could hear the hiss of the propane heater. The barking sounded like a Golden Retriever at first but then the cadence increased and the pitch sharpened. Without warning, it broke into a howl and then a fury of barking and yipping exploded. The pack of perhaps a half dozen had closed in on us and were maybe one hundred yards out. I slipped out of my glove and clicked the safety off with my bare thumb, my index finger rest on the trigger. My heart raced. As I peered down the bore of my rifle through the scope into the darkness, there was nothing to be seen but weeds and tree stumps laced with bright patches of snow. I scanned the terrain before me for several minutes and was relieved to see nothing. The howling subsided. We stood silent for another few minutes and every now and again would hear a breaking branch or a rustling in the weeds...but the pack of coyotes never presented themselves.
What does one do with a dead coyote anyway? I'm not so sure. It was a fun experience and nice to get out on the old property. I know the area is overpopulated with coyotes, but I honestly never expected to hear or see a thing. The fact that we had a pack right out front responding to our cheesy electronic call is pretty remarkable to me.
The run on Sat. morning was pretty cold as a nice 10 MPH wind had picked up.