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Monday, May 20, 2013
Spring is Backyard Campfire Time
Posting Date: 07/30/2012
Coyote near Jerry City
Story & photos by: John A. Current (Jac)
About a year and a half ago I mentioned something about Bob and I being on a constant lookout for the elusive coyote.We have traveled up and down many country roads; have sat waiting in cemeteries where the creatures have been reported, we even received permission to patrol discreetly around a small community that had reported coyote activity, but alas, it has been mostly in vain. Even though the sources of information were solid, we had no luck. But we haven't given up the search. We just need better timing.
Being in the right place at the right time helps. Other times just plain ol' dumb luck slaps you in the face. One day, just over a year ago I was on my way to visit my mother in the late afternoon. As I drove along I spotted a coyote . It was walking on a tractor path along side a ditch beside a field. Just ahead of me was a place where I could turn off the road and onto the tractor path. I cautiously slowed my vehicle and was deliberate in my approach. As I turned onto the path I hoped the coyote wouldn't get spooked and bolt off into the distance. To my surprise it didn't, but it was very much aware of my presence.
Coyote on the hunt in a stubble field north of Jerry City. Photo by: Jac
Coyotes are extremely shy by nature. I slowly and quietly stopped my car and turned off the engine, lowered my front windows and stayed where I was. Even though it was about 250 yards from me, had I tried to leave the vehicle it would have run. I lifted my camera from off the front seat and slowly positioned myself from the driver's seat to get the optimum angle for a photo.
I had only a 300mm zoom lens with me this day so the distance of the shot would have a large impact on the quality of the picture. Not to mention that I was losing light by the minute. I knew the quality would not be up to my normal standards but today it was alright. I just wanted a photographic record for my files. What a shame Bob wasn't with me, because he would have certainly liked to have seen what I saw.
I took a few shots and as I figured, the photos didn't turn out very well, but I could tell this particular coyote was on the larger size and quite healthy. I was feeling pretty good about my luck, but the coyote was getting nervous so I decided to leave. As I left I thought, next time I would have my biggest lens with me.
Though very much aware of me, it didn't seem to feel threatened. Photo by: Jac
The very next Saturday I was on my way to see my sister and wouldn't you know, driving down that same road, I looked and there it was again, that same coyote. This time it was hunting in the middle of a stubblel field. Again I slowed and quietly turned onto the tractor path and crept my car into a position for the best angle for the shot. I was hoping to get much better pics this time, and I did have my 500mm zoom lens, and the coyote was much closer. The coyote would look at me occasionally then returned to hunting. It evidentally deemed me as no threat. It didn't seem bothered by my presence at all this time.
Like the fox, a coyote can hear the movement of prey under a layer of snow. Photo by: Daniel J. Cox
Even though I had a larger, more powerful lens with me, there wasn't as much sun as I would have liked so I had to manipulate the camera settings to do the best I could. I am happier with these photos but they are still not up to my normal standards although I really enjoyed the rare privilage I was afforded and considered it a blessing.
After that experience I returned to the area several times but have not seen the coyote since. A nephew told me he had seen a dead coyote along side a road outside of some small village. It could easily have been the one I photographed since they cover a range of 20 miles or more when hunting.
Howling and yipping is a way of communicating with each other. Photo by: Jim Roetzel
In the time since, I have seen only one other coyote and that was in knee-high crops so getting a good photo was out of the question. I did see, however, off in the distance, a couple coyote pups peering from a wooded area at their mother.
Coyotes are very intelligent and one of the larger predators in the area. They can be a nuisance but are not a big threat. Because they are so timid, if you should cross paths with one, all you have to do is be loud and ignore them. If a coyote is in an area where you are, you'll probably never know it, but if confronted with one that will not move, just stop advancing, and back away slowly. Fewer things trigger an attack from an animal more than turning and running away.
Canine MMA? No, just a natural way of life. Photo by: Joe McDonald
This animal eats virtually everything, small pets included. If you have coyotes in your area and you own a dog, you may want to take steps to protect it if you keep it out of doors...male or female. Coyotes do not have a problem with roaming into populated areas to populate your pet dog, resulting in a litter of coy dogs. Coy dogs can be more of a problem than pure coyotes because they have a domestic and wild pedigree, and have less fear of humans.
The howling and yipping you hear at night is eerie...sometimes downright chilling, but it's how the pack communicates, keeping in contact with one another. All in all, coyotes will den up, have a litter, then most likely move on. They seldom make a permanent home.
So the search for the wiley coyote continues, and after the crops are taken from the fields, or with a light layer of snow, who knows, maybe we'll be in the right place at the right time once again. I just wish they were easier to find. Thanks for reading.
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