Choosing a hunting partner is a tricky and delicate situation. To avoid a messy divorce, or worse, test the waters lightly before diving in with a full commitment to a new predator-hunting partner.
“Hold on now. I love, err, enjoy my predator-hunting partnership.” If those are your thoughts, you either have found the “one” or simply haven’t spent enough time together. Let’s hope it’s the former and you won’t be forced to mutter the “D” word.
You might not be ready to file for divorce from your current predator hunting partner, but be honest. There have been times when you wish they just wouldn’t show up. In fact, not showing up is a possible hint of what’s ahead on future hunts. Is your paranoia starting to flare now? Here is a sampling of some of the situations my friends and I have come across over the years. Was a divorce inevitable for each? No, but a few symptoms can lead to divorce-decree thoughts. Keep your radar running on whether your partner is a keeper or not and heed the examples below.
1. Lack Of Funds
I’m a cheapskate, although I prefer the term “frugal.” Nevertheless, when it comes to hunting, my wallet isn’t locked with a 20-character-encrypted security code. If it’s time to add an upgrade to my rifle, fill the truck with fuel, purchase lunch at an outback convenience store or even lay down my Visa for a room, I know you have to pay to play. Why don’t others always see hunting in that same 20/20 vision?
It was a new hunting location that was just too far away to justify only hunting one day. Unfortunately, the temperatures were a bit too frigid for camping. A small-town motel room wouldn’t cost much, so I made a plan. An acquaintance through work had been begging me to take him on a coyote hunt. He was a bachelor, had a nice truck and seemed flush with cash. He accepted my invite and the hunt was on.
We took off in the wee hours of the morning, and before leaving our hometown I stopped to top off the truck, my truck. He didn’t offer to drive or to pay for the first tank. It didn’t raise an eyebrow then, but it should have. Our next stop was just before sunrise. I topped the truck off — again, my treat — and grabbed some groceries for a cooler-style lunch later in the day. Yes, that was my treat as well. I guess chivalry isn’t dead, as my partner wasn’t about to consider “going Dutch.”
Toward sunset with only one coyote riding comfortably in the back of my truck, I swung toward town to grab a motel and some much-needed rest after the coyote beating we took. Out of nowhere my partner unexpectedly brought up the fact that he can’t overnight and hunt part of the next day. His girlfriend was adamant. He had to be home. I didn’t argue and headed the truck back east to begin the midnight express. Besides, she needed him. I didn’t, especially after he jumped out without so much as tossing me a Jackson for fuel.
2. Lack Of Gear
In my early years, I was desperate. I truly wanted to find a hunting partner to share the outdoor experience — but I was a bit too desperate. Through a friend of a friend I landed upon a young guy eager to call coyotes. The meeting was brief at a get-together, but he seemed to be an enthusiastic and cordial fellow. I suggested we hit the fields together on the upcoming weekend for calling. A date was set.
The evening before the hunt, he called. I thought it was a confirmation of the rendezvous time. I was wrong. Instead, the guy proceeded to query me if I had extra hunting clothes, extra cold-weather boots, extra predator calls and an extra rifle. Apparently his “extra” inventory was extra out of stock.
With a questioning tone I asked him what hunting he had done in the past, a question I should have started with before the invite. You guessed it. He had never been predator hunting before. His only experience with hunting was as a guest on a pheasant hunt the previous fall. The only hunting gear he had was a freebie blaze orange hat his hunting friends crowned upon him during the social-style hunt. In big bold letters it proudly stated “Big Cock Country.” I didn’t ask any further questions.
Being a nice guy, I corralled some extra clothes, a pair of military surplus Mickey Mouse boots, an old mouth call, a Nikon rangefinder and my deer rifle in 7mm Remington magnum. Sure the rifle was a bit of overkill, but back then the only other alternative I had was a malfunctioning .22LR. Can you say “jammed again?” I also dug through my clothing stash and found a camouflaged stocking hat. The blaze orange hat was fine for tromping cornfields, but a bit too vogue for coyote country.
As I remember, winds battered us most of the day. Coyotes weren’t even close to tepid in response, and I finally tipped one over right before sunset. I don’t think he ever got past the part of how the bolt action worked on his rifle, much less the concept of a variable riflescope. We parted ways and from then on just waved to each other in the grocery aisles.
3. Lack Of Equal Investment
One of the reasons I enjoy hooking up with other hunters is to find new land, whether sharing secret locations or heading in a new direction to scout new real estate. Predator hunting should be give and take, not take and take. One of my partners shared with me an experience that left such a bad taste in his mouth after trying out a new hunting colleague that to this day he prefers to go solo — except when I’m available, of course.
The aftertaste event started when a locally known predator hunter approached him about calling together. There were some contests looming in the future, and after some discussions, a partnership was hatched to check out some land. Regrettably, my friend didn’t have a contract to sign and to this day wishes he did.
The two started out by visiting all of my friend’s property, both public and private. Whenever a landowner was present, my friend introduced them, along with giving the new guy a brief overview of the best calling sites. He even showed his possible new partner ways to backdoor access some area public lands, including one road that everyone believed to have been vacated.
The first weekend was all sharing on my friend’s part. The duo set up a time to meet the upcoming weekend. It never happened. The new guy called to say he couldn’t go. Some family issue had arisen. In reality the new guy was hopscotching back to the locations, meeting with landowners and scouting out the public lands solo. Why? He had a mistress in the form of another partner who was going to be his true contest calling partner.
My friend found out just before the calling contest that he was no longer the bride or a bridesmaid. He also shockingly found out he was no longer alone on many of the properties that for years he had to himself. Today he’s single and loving it when it comes to predator hunting, but every once in a while he’ll call me to get together for a predator hunt. It’s a l-o-n-g once-in-a-while, though!
4. Lack Of Common Sense
It doesn’t take much to amaze me. That noted, I’m constantly amazed by the amount of common sense lacking in the world today. I don’t mind a long hike to pull off a coyote caper in country removed from road-hunting pressure. In fact, every winter I set out on several cross-country hunts with a goal of two to three setups during the hike. A local hunter stopped me at the gas station one afternoon and suggested he go along with me on an upcoming cross-country jaunt. The guy talked tough, knew something about predator hunting, but looked somewhat soft in the physical-education department. Thinking that I might run into a coyote factory in the hinterlands, I invited him along with positive thoughts about his stated stamina for backpacking duties.
The hunt started out fine. We didn’t get a coyote on the first set, which was nearly a mile from the truck, but we did pique the howling curiosity of a pack another mile further in the distance. However, I noticed he was wheezing and looking pale. I pointed in the direction of the howls and started post-holing through the snow. “Hey,” I heard from behind me. “Why don’t you go after those coyotes and I’ll head back to the truck and pick you up on the opposite side of the tract.”
I’d long since given up arguing with those breaking a sweat in moderate activity and huffing like The Little Engine That Could. It’s better to divorce than to perform CPR in the field.
The lack of common sense doesn’t end there. Another wannabe coyote hunter tugged at my generosity strings and invited himself along on a quick afternoon stand. As we neared the calling location — mine, of course — I told him to set up on the downwind side. “They always try to get downwind, so you should see some action,” I whispered as I went out of sight over the hill.
Forty-five minutes later, nothing had appeared in my sector and I hadn’t heard a shot ring out. I trudged back to my cohort and asked if he had seen anything. I should have been ready for the response.
Of course he had seen coyotes. Not one, but two coyotes charged his position. One passed by within shotgun range, the other trotted by at approximately 100 yards according to the tracks in the snow. Why didn’t he shoot?
“They just wouldn’t stop moving. I even waved my hands to slow them down, but they just picked up speed, and my dad told me to never take shots at running game.” Well, at least he listened to fatherly advice. Unfortunately, he never watched a DVD on coyote hunting or a hunting show on TV. If he had, he could have a barked the dogs to a stop!