HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 - Page 39

SEC T I ON T H R EE You’d think I’d know better by now. chances in one day at Wisconsin coyotes don’t happen often. I wanted to make the most of it. In hindsight, I should have stayed put, but I worried about jumbles of ice around me that might obstruct my view. I’d have a clearer view if I moved forward to the next 10-foot high seam of ice and hopefully, have a better shot. My second guessing f inally won out. I got up and began moving ahead when I stepped into a crevasse covered with snow. I fell face f irst into it leading with my rif le. As I rolled around trying to get my footing, I realized I wasn’t all that was buried in the snow. My gun barrel was in past the trigger guard too. And at a time like this that’s not a good thing. Hunter Safety 101 warns of barrel obstructions. A quick glance showed me I had a dandy and now the coyote was only 400 yards out. Behind cover, I quickly unloaded my rif le and tapped on the barrel trying to dislodge the snow. That didn’t work. Next I frantically tried blowing the snow out of the barrel while peaking at the coyote now only a hundred yards away, oblivious of my descent into a full-blown panic mode. That didn’t work either. All I could do was watch him come so close I could see his beady eyes and the long guard hairs running across his back blowing in the wind. I guess he didn’t like strong language because his retreat was a fast one. Later that afternoon, with a clean barrel and after getting reasonably settled down, I headed for another isolated block of shoreline. I’d just worked down the hillside through the waist deep snowdrifts to the windblown ice and started glassing when I saw the dark spot west of me. Although a long ways off, I knew it was another coyote and I watched him disappear behind a pinnacle of ice. Marking the spot I moved closer, knowing shooting light was limited, but thinking he was ready for the evening hunt. Two This late in the day, the lake breeze had dropped and was blowing lightly in my face, presenting a perfect calling opportunity. If he was within hearing – and I was conf ident he was – he wouldn’t wind me, although from past experience I knew he’d try to circle around and come toward me from downwind. When he made this maneuver, and before he hit my scent stream, would be my best chance for a shot. Within seconds of my f irst call, I saw him pop out from behind a mound of ice, much closer than where I’d seen him earlier. A big coyote is only about three feet high, so it’s easy for them to move unseen around the chaotic ridges of ice. Still, I was surprised to see him only 300 yards out. Clouds veiled a sun setting over the Minnesota skyline miles across the lake as he moved closer, although unlike the morning’s naïve animal, he seemed hesitant. Maybe it was because of the wolf sign I’d seen close by. Wolves and coyotes don’t get along any better than coyotes and fox do. Years ago, not far from where I stood now, I watched two coyotes chase a fox out of sight down the lake’s shoreline. Or maybe it was just because coyotes are cautious by nature. I’m not saying a coyote makes a late season, call shy, 4 year old public land gobbler look like the village idiot, but I’ve hunted both and know which one is the biggest challenge. Whatever the reason, this coyote was playing hard to get. Light was fading fast and he was still a solid 200 yards out, looking at me head on. In hindsight I should have waited another couple minutes to see if he offered me a broadside shot, but I didn’t. Settling the crosshairs under his chin, I touched the trigger. It was a clean miss. As a farewell salute, I took another poke at him as he ran away, knowing it was probably futile. HORI ZONS |  35