Story Time and Chicken Killers
By Troy Adams
So my phone rings last week and the lady on the other end introduces herself as the parent to two of my students. She then says that her boys tell her that I like hunting coyotes and she could use my help. She goes on to explain how they have a lot of chickens and the local coyote population has decided they like chicken for breakfast. So much so that they are getting brave enough to come right into their yard and snatch and chicken or two nearly every morning. She said her husband has tried to shoot them a time or two, but missed. She also said there had been quite a few people from the big city out to try and call them in, but they hadn't had any luck. Honestly I wasn't too thrilled to hear a lot of people had been out there calling, but I decided I would give it a whirl anyway. Just had to hope I could put sounds out there that perhaps the coyotes hadn't heard before.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. I get up at 4:00am and head to the chicken farm. I park my truck near the landowner's house and then hike to the top of the ridge behind their house. It's about a 450 to 500 foot ascent nearly straight up. I'd like to say I just tooled right on up there, but the truth is I had to stop a time or two as it was kicking my butt. That coupled with the fact it was still dark and it is rattle snake infested country. It kept me nervous and cautious during my climb. When I'm just about to the top I decide to do a locate howl to see if I can get a line on where the coyotes might be. I don't get a response so I decide to just keep on going and just set up where the sun and wind will be in my favor. However I don't walk 100 yards and here comes a coyote running right at me over the the ridge. It's starting to get a little light, but is still pretty dark. I wouldn't have seen it had it not been above me and silhouetted by the skyline. We see each other and freeze at the same time. He's only 80 to 90 yards away but I'm caught flat footed out in the open. He's not sure what I am, but he knows I look out of place. I got to set my shooting sticks down and accidently bump my squeaker. Apparently he's heard that before and he takes off. He didn't explode out of there, just turned and trotted off. I cuss my luck and continue on to my first stand of the morning. It turns out to be a dry stand, but the whole time I'm on it I have a coyote howling its head off at me about a 1/2 a mile away. I figured it was probably the one I spooked. I note that the wind is in my favor so I decide to close the distance and see if I can spot it. Who knows, might get lucky and snipe the mouthy little sucker. As I get closer it shuts up. However the area looks great for a stand as there are big round hay bales all over the place. I love setting up on the shadow side of a hay bale. In fact I can't think of a better situation for hunting coyotes.
As I settle in I see movement off to the North. It turns out to be two very large mule deer bucks. I would be happy with either one come deer season. I look to the West and see a pretty darn decent antelope buck looking back at me from about 400 yards. I think to myself, well if nothing else at least I've seen some cool critters this morning. I begin my calling sequence and at about the 5 minute mark a coyote comes screaming by out in front of me about 200 yards. It's traveling broadside to me and I switch up sounds to try and make it turn towards me. It works and it starts to veer towards me. I no sooner do this and notice I have two other coyotes heading directly at me at warp speed. I quickly divert my attention to them. The distance is closing fast, (almost too fast), I mean they are really booking it. I get the lead coyote in my scope and start barking at her to try and stop her. Nothing doing, she's on a mission. At around 50 yards I decided to just take her on the fly. I trip the trigger and she slams to the ground. First coyote down!
The coyote that was right behind her decides it needs to be somewhere else and swaps ends post haste. She's really eating up real estate and has hit a whole' nuther gear. I get her in the crosshairs and she speeds directly away. When everything feels right I squeeze the trigger and send one right up the Ol' Bingo hole. It kills her instantly @ 135 yards. Just then I notice the first coyote I shot is back on her feet and I have to put another shot or two in her to keep her down for good. This caused me problems later when it came time to collect my double. Because I had to avert my attention to the wounded coyote I lost track of where the second coyote dropped. I spent an hour looking for it in the tall grass and couldn't find it. I finally decided to just come back later in the day and hope magpies were on it or that it bloated or would smell bad enough to find it.
As I was looking for the second coyote I could hear more coyotes howling off in the distance. I decided to work my way in their direction. It was about a 3/4 mile walk and as I crested a ridge I saw a coyote about 1200 yards away top and far ridge and leave the area. As I was standing there I saw another coyote following it. So I quickly sat down, pulled out my Tony Tebbe hand call and commenced to calling. It didn't come in, but it did sit down and start howling at me. So I start howling back and suddenly I get a response much closer. I look below me and there about 350 yards away is another coyote yipping and howling its head off at me. I try everything I can think of to get it to come closer, but it is content to just howl and stand its ground. The grass is too high for me to lie down and shoot so I have to try from a sitting position. I really don't like that but it's the only shot I have. I take careful aim and shoot. I don't see where the shot lands, but the coyote isn't spooked and doesn't know where the shot came from. I try again. This time it barely misses it, kicking up dust right under its belly. It decides those noisy mosquito are just too much and it takes off over the ridge into a steep valley. I figure it will cross the valley and work its way up the far side. When it disappeared over the ridge I took off to get to a spot where I could lay down and try and shot from a prone position if the coyote gave me an opportunity. Sure enough he comes up the far side and stops on a small boulder. I range him at 450 yards. Holy crap, he looks tiny in the scope even at 30X! I hold 2.5 mildots high and carefully caress the trigger. POW...pause...THWOP! I hear the report of a hit echo back. I lost sight of the coyote during the recoil, but I know I heard the sound of a hit. I scan the hill side and can't see any movement or the coyote. However the boulder looks slightly bigger and whiter. I try and try to make into a coyote but can't. I sit there and fret whether to hike down there and check or not. It will require a long hike around the top of the ridge and then a long decent to the bottom where the boulder is. It's a good 1200 yards of hiking, plus I will have to climb all the way back up to the top once I check things out. Not a climb I was looking forward. Oh what the heck, may as well go look as it's really bugging me. So off I go. I'm a good mile and a half from the chicken farm and on my way down to the boulder when I discover the remains of a dead chicken. Hmmm, looks like I've got the right family group. After a long descent I am finally getting close to the boulder. There is a slight curve in the landscape preventing me from seeing the boulder. As I walk forward I look ahead to where I expect to see the boulder and instead discover a very dead coyote laying right on top of the boulder. It's a young of the year male and he's stone dead. He died instantly. I'm purty dang thrilled with the shot. Killing a mini-coyote at 450 yards is pretty darn good shooting in my book. I think that's the happiest I've ever been over killing a little coyote.
After making the long shot, the temperatures are warming up and I try one more stand, but it turns out dry. I figure it is time to head back for the truck. I hike back and head home. Once home I'm pretty whipped and decide to take a nap. After waking up I get something to eat and make a phone call. I called a coyote hunting friend in Colorado and we visit about coyote hunting of course. I'm intentionally taking up some time hoping to give magpies time to find the dead coyote that I didn't recover. Around 4:00pm I can't take it anymore and I need to go back and look. I ask my 3 youngest kids (two daughters and one son) if they want to help me go find the coyote. They all eagerly accept the challenge. On the way out I warn them several times to keep their eyes open for rattle snakes as chances are pretty good that we will run into one or more. We eventually reach the pasture where I killed the coyote and we all fan out. About 5 minutes into the search my oldest daughter spots the coyote. I had walked within 50 feet of it several times during my search, but somehow never saw it. We take a few photos and head back to the truck. My youngest son and I are walking side by side about 3 feet apart. About 50 yards from the truck I hear the distinct buzz of a rattle snake. It's right between my son and I. Actually only about 8" from my son's foot. I yell rattle snake and we both go airborne. We land away from the sound. My son spins around and see's the snake all coiled up right near where he had just walked. I think that is the fastest I've ever seen my son move. The snake buzzes for only a minute or so and wants nothing to do with us. He slips down a mouse hole that was right next to him before I could kill it. Oh well, can't get'em all. On a side note my young son had total focus the remaining 50 yards to the pickup truck.
Now some of you might wonder why I would go to the trouble of recovering these coyotes? After all the fur isn't any good yet. I have a skull cleaning business and during the off season I still have to feed my dermestid beetles. Coyote skulls supplement a large part of their diet. It also doesn't hurt that I have a buyer back east that will take every coyote skull I can clean. Anyway it's all good.
So here's a pic of the coyote my daughter helped me find. It turned out to be another large female. All in all a great day!
An avid big game hunter, Troy Adams has been hunting big game for nearly 30 years. Combining hunting and photography has helped him preserve many great memories. When not hunting, photographing, writing, or spending time with his family, Troy is usually found working on his wildlife art drawings.