Coyote hunts often are planned. Sometimes they just happen. Taking any coyote encounter and turning it into a hunt requires preparedness, skill and outright fast thinking. I’ve had my share of impromptu coyote hunts and with split-second reactions I was able to turn other hunts, or even leisurely outings into coyote fodder. Here are a few tales of unplanned coyote adventures.
One late September day found me and some buddies tromping the prairie hills for limits on sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie chickens. On one particularly long walk we came to the edge of a large series of eroded coulees and I volunteered to drop into the depths to push any grouse from the shady crevices. As I started down one of the banks I was taken aback by a brown fur ball escaping literally at my feet. I had nearly stepped on a snoozing coyote curled up in the shade and enjoying the cool earth bed. The coyote wasn’t about to invite me in for tea when suddenly I remembered the shotgun in my hand. Swinging it into play I swung the barrel out in front of the flying coyote just as if I were aiming at a flushing grouse. When the shotgun bellowed my fellow hunters swung their attention my way. Upon seeing the furry prize I bagged they just shook their heads knowing full well fur was going to trump feathers on my hunts.
While spring turkey hunting in Montana my partner and I flipped a coin to see who had shotgun duties. I won the flip on the first setup. My buddy slipped behind me in the brush to call as I staked the single hen decoy in a mountain opening. A few yelps later we had the attention of several hens and a testosterone-charged tom. The group worked their way around the mountain to our location and my heart sped up with the meeting about to take place. Seconds later turkeys appeared in a fast track to the setup. Suddenly a gray streak appeared below the decoy and the turkeys. Another lurked in the background as my mind focused…coyotes! The first streak wasn’t slowing and despite the turkeys peeling off left and right it focused on the stationary decoy. It must have thought “easy pickings” as it was about to pounce. I pounced first and hit the coyote squarely with a load of number fives. The other coyote escaped, but one pregnant female coyote was enough for turkey hunting privileges on that ranch for a lifetime.
Two of my buddies felt sorry for me and decided I needed some help in getting a deer. I posted high on a creek bank with a perfect view of the creek bottom below. From there I could watch them execute the drive and spy any whitetails trying to sneak past me. In the first few hundred yards they bumped a doe here and there, but no big bucks were home. Suddenly I heard shots and cursed believing they were all talk about getting me a deer and instead trying to tag a buck themselves. Stretching my neck to see more terrain didn’t give me any answers, but another shot rang out and then another. Seconds later I saw the target, a coyote. With the creek bottom now in chaos I decided to join the fray and lined up on the coyote quickly approaching. Just as I readied for a shot the coyote disappeared. Looking left and right I couldn’t see it escaping in any direction, but an answer quickly revealed itself. It had joined with another coyote hiding in the brush. Both coyotes were now in fourth gear as they hit an opening below me. I barked and the new coyote stopped so I ended his escape, but the second coyote never slowed and dove into a thicket with enough canopy cover to make it to the next county.
When I used to live in South Dakota I always kept a rifle in the truck. Why? South Dakota has a law on the books that basically stated that if you had permission to hunt adjoining private land and saw a coyote from the road, you could shoot it from the road, even out of the window of the truck. As a law-abiding hunter I wanted to make sure I could use that law at a moment’s notice. One morning while returning from town I spied a coyote loping across a pasture 50 yards from the road. As luck would have it, I had permission to hunt the ranch. I spotted a pasture gate and barreled the truck into it while simultaneously grabbing my rifle and shutting off the truck. I could have shot out of the window, but the coyote was being overly bold so I rolled out and used the hood for a rest. When I barked to stop the coyote a Christmas present appeared, another coyote. Both stared and I rolled the nearer one and doubled as the second one ran straight away; another gift.
So what’s your best chance opportunity for coyotes? Post a tale and try and top you predator-hunting peers.