Wanted to get an early start this morning as the weather channel was calling for 10mph winds increasing into the day. From experience I know I can usually double or triple that number where I wanted to hunt and get closer to the actual wind speed. Things didn't work out quite as planned though and the sky was turning pink as we left the house. I'm definitely going to have to plan in more time to get ready when I bring the little guy as it takes a bit longer. Pretty sure the snooze button didn't help much either!
I started taking my son, Christian, with me this year and on his first trip earlier this fall we called in a triple. Needless to say he is hooked and was looking forward to going this weekend. Yesterday he was up first thing and had packed a bag with drinks and snacks, but it was way too windy, so we just went into the mountains for the afternoon. When I woke him up this morning and asked if he wanted to go he was out of bed in about two seconds. The dog was in the back of the truck just as fast and we were off!
The unusually warm weather this fall has kept the ground free of snow, which has let me hunt some areas that are normally buried this time of year. I have tried the hiking in on snowshoes thing, and ended up mostly soaking wet, worn out and no dogs to show for it. I decided to head out to one of these spots today to take advantage of the opportunity.
The wind was gusting already as we got to the first stand, but at least it wasn't continuous. The area is full of gullies and ridges that are perfect for coyotes to travel and bed down in. The wind would allow us to call the small fingers and only move a short distance to set up another stand.
We set up a few stands, hiking in quite a ways from the truck. Not much moving that we could see this morning. No antelope or even cows and especially not any coyotes. Luckily the wind stayed intermittent for us, but we had to set up in a few spots that were less than ideal on account of it. Christian was a trooper though and hiked right along with me. He knows that I do a lot of hiking when I'm hunting. I try to get away from the truck and any road or two track as best I can. Too many times I've had a yote spot the truck and high tail it before I could get a good shot. It may reduce the number of stands I can make in a day, but I figure a handful of good ones are much better than a bunch of crappy ones.
After a set of unsuccessful stands we made our way back to the truck and moved up the ridge line a ways. This time we decided to make some stands on the west side of the ridge and got set up overlooking a dry creek bed. There were multiple ravines feeding into the creek from both sides and it was sheltered from the wind so I had high hopes for this one. We set out the decoy and call down by the sand and hid in some yucca. Since there wasn't much in the way of cover we were laying prone on a small rise. It gave us a perfect view of the call and any path to it, but our flanks were out of view. Christian liked hiding in the brush and never complained about getting stuck with cactus and yucca. He really makes me proud every time out with how serious he takes it and the focus he shows for a kid barely turning five. I'm pretty sure that he will put his ol' dad to shame once he gets a bit older.
My dog Duke was roaming the various ravines around us, just as eager to find some yotes as we were. He has gotten pretty comfortable on stand and is ranging out well. That triple we called in earlier this year would have never came in all the way if it weren't for the dog bringing them in.
About 15 minutes into the stand I heard him barking back over my right shoulder, the direction the wind was blowing. He almost never barks on stand, in fact the only time I've heard him bark on stand before was when he was on a coyote. I hit the tone on his collar, hoping he would bring in whatever it was he was after. At that point he was too far away with a large ridge in between us, so he wasn't getting the message. The only thing I could do was grab the gun and take off in his direction and hope to catch a glimpse of his prey.
Christian and I were pretty winded as we made the top of the ridgeline and went right past the truck. Down the other side a ways and I finally see Duke coming back towards us. Unfortunately nothing was following. Whatever it was had run past the truck and down into the same gullies we had been calling in the morning. Knowing the way my dog acts on stand, I would guess that a coyote had been working it's way down to the call a few ravines over from us. It either winded us and turned around, or Duke ran him out.
I was glad to find the dog, but now we had a long hike back to get everything I had left behind. Christian was smart enough to stay at the truck and let me and Duke retrieve the pack and call. He's got it all figured out...lol
By this time it was getting late and I figured our window of opportunity was closing. Most times I call them in before about 10 am and the wind was picking back up. Christian was still ready to go though and I was determined to keep his streak alive, so we decided to make a few more stands.
I tried a new spot I hadn't called before and we worked down to a fence line running along a dry creek bed and got set up. The wind was coming through pretty good, so I tried to set up as far off the call as I could. I wasn't sure how far the sound would reach in the wind, so I was hoping one would be bedded in this draw a short ways upwind.
To top it off I forgot to turn the call on and had to go back down to the call. I wasn't expecting much at this point. Duke was roaming pretty far upwind and hadn't stirred anything up, so I was about to call it quits when I saw a coyote running in along the fence from straight downwind.
He went right past us on a fast trot towards the call and decoy with no hesitation. I sure was surprised to see one coming in like that from our downwind, as I was sure anything that direction would catch a whiff of us long before getting in sight. I guess setting up that far from the call paid off.
I had the gun up just as he decided something wasn't quite right and ducked under the fence. He made it up on a little rise when I started whooping at him and he paused for just a moment. That was all I needed as I sent a 55 gr pill his way from my 22-250. I heard the hit and he dropped out of sight before the gun settled back down.
I started looking around for Duke as I saw the yote crawling still. Of all the times I could use him around and he was off sniffing tumbleweeds. Christian and I made our way down under the fence by the time he came running to the gunshot. He hadn't seen the coyote yet so I let him trail him from the shot. Duke about stumbled over him, so intent was he nose to the ground on the scent trail. It wasn't the greatest accomplishment, as the trail was only about 15 yards, but I try to give him as many chances as I can to work a scent.
We shared a few high fives and photo ops. Christian had to give the coyote a nudge with his boot before he was sure it was ok to get close for this photo.
Duke got to sniff and chew on him a bit, but the tail was a little mangy so he didn't get to have too much fun with him. He hasn't been around too many wounded coyotes yet. Guess that is a good thing, but it either means I make good shots, or don't call many in. Maybe a bit of both....but either way, he was much happier once the yote was done snapping.
We finished with the pictures, and since there would be no skinning of this one, headed back out to the truck, but Duke still wasn't ready to go. He must have been bummed that he missed all the action earlier.
This photo was taken from our stand. The coyote is right next to the small clump of bushes on the middle ridge. He was just down from there when I took the shot. The camera is zoomed in some, but it still wasn't a very long shot, maybe 90 yards. In my defense the wind was coming full value right to left and the dog was quartering away from me.
The hike back out seemed a lot longer than it had on the way in. We must have been wearing down by this point, but our spirits were high. Enough so that we figured we might as well make one last stand on the way home. But first we had to finish the climb. Even Duke was slowing down by now. We had hiked a good amount this morning and whatever ground I covered was a lot longer for little legs.
The wind was really howling now, so I traded the 22-250 for my 243 and tried to find a decent spot on our way out. We were in a fairly wide open area by now, so I didn't think the call would reach very far other than downwind. After posting up on a small rise overlooking a sandy creek Duke decided he had roamed enough for the day and would instead stick close to watch our downwind side.
Not much moving by now and we could barely hear the call, so after a short stand we made the long hike out and headed for home. Mama was good enough to have a hot lunch waiting for us when we got home. Life is good and I am truly blessed to have the family I do. Thanks for reading!