After drawing a fairly sought after deer tag this year, I felt I needed to put in a concerted effort to scout and hunt the tag. Most of my spare time's been devoted to it in the last couple of months. I passed a few younger bucks looking for a wallhanger but, unfortunately, after getting the tag I found out that the deer population has suffered in this unit in the last few years. The local ADC took forty mountain lions off the unit just last winter (Oregon no longer allows dogs for ML hunting.) which probably explains why their were so few deer. It was a great area and a fun hunt none the less but unproductive for deer.
Collapsed poles and torn tarps greeted me on my return to base camp on day six.
Deer camp on day six!
I only half jokingly say I can only stand to hunt big game for four or five days before I'm ready to go call coyotes. Well, I made ten and half days before making the switch this season! After seeing a number of coyotes and passing on them, I finally had one move over the ridge about 500 yards in front of me and I couldn't take it any longer. I pulled a hand-turned maple call my son made for me out of my pocket and set up on a small rim. Seven minutes later I caught movement on the far ridge and shortly after that a nice, mature coyote comes onto the scab flat in front of me on a lope towards my stand. It wouldn't even slow down for my barks and swung up over the rocks and made my downwind at only 20 yards without me getting off a shot. Oh well, the 150 gr Barnes TTSX from my 300 WSM may have been messy anyway. But, HECK YEAH! This is more like it.
My boredom with deer hunting had lead me to put my .204 and calling bag in the truck before I left that morning and this was all I needed to push me over the edge! Deer hunting is boring, let's call coyotes!
With noone to please but myself, I got out the .204 and started making coyote stands. On the third stand I walked over several piles of coyote scat in just a couple hundred yards from my truck. So it was no great surprise when a coyote came in from my right at about three minutes of Jackrabbit Distress. He checked up on his own at 83 yards and the first coyote of the season was down! Four minutes later a gray form takes shape as it moves towards the caller from my 12 o'clock. It stops and surveys the situation for some time but I try to wait it out thinking it is still over 200 yards out. With the scope turned up, I feel comfortable with the shot and squeeze it off. Make it a double!
The next stand is a bust but on the last stand I spot a coyote mousing in an old burn just 400 yards from me as walk into the stand. I quickly set up on a small rim and start the caller. The coyote gives no response whatsoever so I turn the volume up. Still no response! After changing sounds several times, I decide he just isn't going to come. I don't consider the .204 a real 400 yard coyote cartridge but I just couldn't stand not to try it. After three shots at a confused and evidently ignorant coyote, I give it up and head for the truck. I should have had my prone bipod in my pocket. I just couldn't get steady enough off my sitting biopod. Oh well, overall, it was the most fun I had "deer hunting" all season!
Friends of ours were staying with us last weekend and I didn't have time to hunt because of ministry obligations. But, they stayed over sunday night and he accepted my invitation to call coyotes monday morning. After being busted walking to the first stand and blanking on the second stand, I saw a shape in a sagebrush island in front of us on stand three. Redge is at least as hard of hearing as I am and it took a while to get him zeroed in on what turned out to be a YOY male. We let him slowly work his way into the caller and Redge took the shot at about 140 yards. The coyote dropped but got back up a second later and started to half-run off. Redge couldn't get pivoted to his right very well so I finished him before he could get back into the sage. Knuckles!
Redge's first called-in coyote.
We only had time for one last stand and had a double show up. Both were nice pale coyotes. Suffice it to say that our shooting was not up to par and we lost that opportunity. But, it was another good morning of calling in some beautiful weather and country.
Who needs a stinkin' deer tag anyway?