Extreme Weather Coyotes By Mark Brendemuehl
The snow groaned under our collective weight as we ducked our heads and squinted against the 20+ mph winds slapping us in our already raw faces. At a real temperature of 19 below zero, the wind just added to an already brutally cold morning.
My hunting partner, Ben Cade and I were hunting a pasture near an abandoned farm house with goats, horses and a handful of cattle there. A long narrow grove shielded us from the wind momentarily and for a minute we thought it wasn't so bad. Reality set in when we got on the other side of the windbreak and the wind was once again blowing snow and taking our breath away.
Just the day before, we had seen a coyote sitting boldly on a round bale right in the barn yard. Opting to pass him up for lack of a clear shot, we decided to return in the morning and do some calling and see what happened. The farmer informed us that he was "infested" with coyotes, so we were looking forward to a great hunt, bitter cold or not. In hindsight, we probably should have tried to get a shot at that coyote when we had the chance.
We were now a mere 100 yards from the farm and just as we cleared the crest of a small ridge, we both froze and slowly dropped to the ground, reaching for our bipods as we dropped. We had each seen in the distance 3 coyotes well below us and running on a frozen cattail slough. Before I could even try to range it, Ben hissed to me, "There are five there now!" I began ranging various objects to get some reference points for fast shots, but even with my favorite rifle, a Tikka T3 heavy .308, I wouldnt take a shot over 250 yards with the wind the way it was. I doubted I could see far enough to make an accurate shot anyway.
Snow was drifting and hitting our faces with tenacity now, and we used our off hands to shield our faces as best we could. I couldn’t have taken even an easy shot at this point. Sensing the same thing, Ben began sliding backwards inches at a time to get below the crest. It took us a good 15 minutes to do this, but we didn't want to risk getting busted now.
Safely out of sight and well out of earshot, we began walking to the pasture and planning how to call these five coyotes. We decided, goofy as it was, that we had to be upwind of them so the sound could carry down to them. Winds were a little over 20 mph, and gusts pushing 30 were happening with ever increasing frequency. We had to get them close, had to hope that we were scent free, and had to hope that whatever scent we may have had on us would be blown wildly around or over the coyotes well below us in a valley.
As we double timed it through the pasture, the livestock paid little attention to us. We hadn't walked 80 yards yet when Ben stopped in his tracks, staring straight ahead. I already had my rifle mounted and was glassing the spot he had seen. I confirmed what he had seen with a nod of my head, and we both slowly made our way to the grove of trees to our right to get out of sight. Once there, we decided we would use the grove as cover, get to the end, split to each side and leave the coyote in a kill zone between us. The first one to get the shot would take the shot.
We took our time, noting that the coyote appeared to have been sleeping when we saw it, and judging by the size of the drifts forming around him, he had been there awhile. In what seemed an eternity, I reached the end of the grove. Rifle mounted in a high ready position, I crept forward, and the coyote didn't move. Placing the reticle of my VXIII on his head, I could see his eyes were now open, staring right at me, but it was obvious he couldn't see a thing. Wind blew drifting snow so hard that it was painful to even try to look into the wind. Even though it was less than 80 yards, I decided to lean forward and rest on the top of a wooden fence post to take the shot. That helped ensure that I wouldn't shoot the fence as well as providing a steady rest.
Surprised that a shot hadn't taken place yet, I flipped the safety and squeezed the trigger. The recoil made the view go blank momentarily, and when I got back on target I was stunned to see the coyote running right at me! He was hunched and obviously hurt, and had no clue where he was going. Running smack into the fence at the 4 cornered intersection, he did an about face and ran straight away. I touched off one more shot and took him off his feet and onto his back. I couldn’t believe he was able to run after being hit by a 150 grain SST, but he did, and firing the second shot was sure to pinpoint to the other coyotes where we were. Mad that I didn't take the head shot, but happy to have fur on the ground, I began busting drifts to get to him.
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