From The Readers: California Coyote Hunting

A California predator hunter gets a chance to stroll down memory lane with an old relative who has access to coyote paradise.
From The Readers: California Coyote Hunting

FTR-Small-LogoMy father’s 85-year-old cousin Don and I ventured out to a ranch way out in the hills again. Don is actually my second cousin and has access to what I call “magic places” out here in the middle-of-nowhere California! I’m thankful that Don is still around to tell me hunting stories that he and my late father shared. Many times traveling within these areas Don has taken me, he would point out certain hills and tell me stories of how he and my father and grandfather would hunt, usually regarding deer or maybe a prank involving a rattlesnake. Don has keys and access to many fine places that I consider sacred within today’s situational/political mess. All the hunter’s in my family are now gone accept my brother and I. And as far as that goes, I’m probably the only predator hunter of the family next to Don Scheidt. 

I always heard of Don as a boy growing up. I would hear my grandfather talking to my father about Don Scheidt and how he went out to some far-off place and nailed something bigger or better than the rest of my family members. One day Don caught wind from my late uncle that I love to go out and call coyotes. So at my Uncle’s funeral, I approached Don to say hi and he asked me if I wanted to go to some good places to call for coyotes? My answer was, “Yes, Sir!”

As we entered the property that Don took me to, Don informed me to slow down and he directed me to go sit right over to a certain hill he pointed to and said they would show up. I quickly got my kit together and I quietly ventured to a zone that looked like a coyote paradise. Don and I would keep in touch via cell phones. After placing the Mojo Critter I chose a spot on the edge of a large dead tree on the ground. Once I got set up I glassed the area a bit to have a look around before using a wooden Dan Thompson jack rabbit call. I followed those up with some puppy cries and greeting calls using a Dan Thompson Red Desert Howler. I like the tones of wooden mouth calls as opposed to plastic. After a while of calling it started to feel like nothing was going to show up.

I noticed a squirrel about 70 yards straight in front of me. Often, squirrels become useful scouts when they sound the alarm for a predator moving in on my distress call. Also, if a coyote doesn’t answer up, I might as well try to shoot that ground squirrel to test my .243. I was shooting my Savage Model 10/110 Max Predator Special. I was using hand loads, which I loaded with the Barnes Varmint Grenade in 62-grain using 43.7 grains of Accurate 2700.

I focused  the scope on the squirrel through my 18X VXII Gold Ring Leupold thinking about a no-show coyote since it has now been a while, but I decided to hang out a bit longer. A good half an hour went by. I was starting to feel an ache in my back as I sat there quite still for more than the usual time frame I am used to for coyotes to answer. It's early afternoon so it may take a bit longer. Just about when I was ready to leave, I caught the movement of a large coyote straight out on the edge of the hill 200 yards across from me. It had been about four or five minutes since I did a mouth call, so at this point he was searching for the Mojo Critter. I carefully and slowly lifted up my rifle/sticks and moved the rifle’s muzzle over slightly to my left. My cheek remained on the rifle's stock within my fixed position. The Coyote looked up in my direction, but did not get a lock on me. That coyote kept scanning the area for any movement. I focused my scope in on what I identified as a very large, mature coyote. He had a look to him like he didn't think everything was right.

I peered once more at the large yote through my 18X power scope and decided to hit it. No wind, everything felt right. Resting on my sticks and snugging the butt of the rifle tight in my shoulder pocket with my forearm also laced through the rifle’s leather sling, I snugged the rifle firm and steady, exhaled and squeezed the trigger — sending the 62-grainer down range at approximately 3,600 fps. The large coyote went down right as I hit the trigger.

Immediately I called some more with rabbit distress and coyote yips to cover the muzzle blast in the event another coyote was also approaching. But no one else seemed present after a few minutes. I dialed up Don via cell phone from my position and informed him I just shot a large male with a bit of a winter coat. Lifting this Yote up I would say he was somewhere between 30 to 40 pounds. I wish Don could get around like he and my father used to do, so I could try and keep up with him like my father did. I only wish my dad and grandfather could see us now.


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