dark grey November morning about 15 minutes after legal shooting
light on the opening day of whitetail season many years ago. It left a
lasting impression on a young hunter.
I had crept to the edge of an expansive bog under the cover of
darkness hoping to catch a glimpse of the big whitetail buck we had
seen here at daybreak a couple times during our preseason scouting
trips. It was one of those mornings where good shooting light seemed
to take forever to come around.
Eventually the murky grayness yielded its grip as daylight slowly
rolled around enough to where I could see a hundred yards or more. A
small doe ghosted past me at about 75 yards at a quick paced trot her
tail held high. I hunkered down a bit in the hopes the big buck was on
her back trail.
What I saw next had me reaching for my binoculars. A lone coyote
was on the doe’s trail. He would walk a bit and stop to survey his
surroundings. His grey winter coat blended with the overcast sky and
drab fall landscape of the bog perfectly. He was power, beauty, speed
and savageness all rolled into one package.
I had seen coyotes on out of Province hunts before but I had never
seen one so large and wolf-like. Many biologists are of the opinion
that these coyotes during their Eastern migration have bred with
wolves and/or dogs along the way creating a much bigger version of
the western coyotes most of us are familiar with. These “coy-dogs” or
“coy=wolves” as they are often referred to can reach some impressive
Big males will sometimes tip the scales at over 70 lbs; a few will go
even heavier. And that my friends is one big coyote. Although cursed
by many hunters, somehow for me, they have added to the overall
enjoyment of my time in the woods. Hearing a pack of coyotes light
up the woods with their long lonesome howls any evening on stand is
a sound I enjoy hearing. It lets me know I’m not the only hunter
prowling the woods and puts things in perspective in a strange way.
I’m just another cog I the wheel. A small part of the big picture.
Although not a popular opinion among many hunters, a certain
small part of me can relate to them as predators. I guess in one form
or another I can identify with their quest for game and even perhaps
share their excitement in the hunt. It must be some kind of predatory
They do kill a substantial number of deer which doesn’t endear them
to whitetail hunters in general but the plus side for me is they have
offered up another awesome hunting opportunity. They can however
play havoc on localized deer numbers. From what I can gather the
bigger Eastern ‘yote may take more big game more often than their
Notwithstanding my slight soft spot for them and their niche spot they
have filled in the eastern woods, I do believe their numbers need to be
managed aggressively. Hunters and trappers need to keep the pressure
This bolder bigger eastern coy-wolf is not winning many fans with the
non hunting population either. From running off with household pets
all the way up to ( and everything in between) having actually
attacked humans and in one well documented case killing a lone hiker
in my home Province of Nova Scotia.
Calling in big predators from the ground is exciting stuff. Having a
big coyote run in at your distress call will get your hunter’s heart
ticking I can assure you!
I think the most consistently successful calls would have to be a
remote controlled E caller. With the remote function a hunter can
have the incoming coyote’s attention focused other than on him or
her. The ones I have used sound realistic, the volume can be
controlled, they can be operated with just the push of a button, and on
many models you can play one or more call at the same time.
If you combine one of these calls with a distraction decoy your odds
of being spotted by a sharp eyed ‘yote will increase over using a
mouth blown call. A mouth blown call will have the coyote focused
directly on your location. Of course, this can be overcome by hunting
with a partner set up a short distance away from the caller.
Notwithstanding the above I love hunting coyotes using a mouth
blown call and using my Black Widow recurve bow. It doesn’t add up
to many coyotes on the ground but it’s exciting as any hunt and when
it does all come together a more exhilarating experience can be hard
to duplicate for difficulty and sense of pride.
One particular bear season had my hunters all tagged out by mid week
with respectable bruins. The group had traveled by car to my hunting
camp so after the paperwork and sample teeth had been turned into
the DNR they were packing up and heading home by 10 a.m.
Thursday morning. This left me at bear camp with a few baits that
hadn’t been hunted yet that year and a bear tag with my name on it
burning a hole in my pocket.
After the final handshakes and farewells it wasn’t long before I was
grinding up an old rut filled logging road to check a distant bear bait
that had been getting pounded on a daily basis for about 4 weeks but
had yet to have a hunter sit over it.
Rounding a corner I saw a couple coyotes dart across the old logging
road about 200 yards ahead of me. I double checked my back pack
and sure enough I had a rabbit in distress mouth blown call in my
pack. I noted it was only about noon time so I had plenty of time
before I needed to be on the bear stand.
With nothing to lose I grabbed my call and recurve and crept up the
trail and closed the distance to about half way to where the coyotes
had crossed. I tip-toed off the trail for perhaps 40 yards and snugged
up tight against the root ball of a big blown down spruce and gave my
first series of calls. I wailed on that call and tried to imitate a rabbit in
a world of hurt. I ended it with a series of low squeals as if the rabbit
was taking his last breath.
I barley had time to put down the call and grab the bow when I heard
several animals coming in fast from directly behind me. It’s an
awesome feeling but it does make you wish for eyes in the back of
your head I can tell you that!
It happened so fast it was almost as if the rabbit squeals were still
echoing through the forest when the animals were coming in. In
seconds 4 coyotes passed by me within easy bow range. Two on my
left and two on my right. They passed within 25 yards but stopped
just shy of 20 yards in front of me. One dog was much larger than the
other so all my attention immediately focused on him. The biggest
coyote I was watching actually stopped and sat down. He and the
others were all looking straight ahead. No doubt looking for any sign
of the dying rabbit which was perfect for me.
I rolled quickly on my knees and drew on the big boy. I picked a spot
and sent off one cedar air mail special. Upon impact the coyote rolled
over but quickly regained his feet and took off in a blur. I tried to
follow him but I only caught a glimpse of him here and there between
the trees before he disappeared altogether.
I thought the shot looked good but decided to sit still for 30 minutes
or so. When I took up the trail I found drops of blood within yards of
where he had been sitting when I shot.
I followed the trail for well over a hundred yards. The blood wasn’t
heavy but I was able to follow it without resorting to hands and knees.
It would be best described as light but steady.
As with most well placed broadheads I found the coyote at the end of
the trail. I had just tracked through a spruce thicket and came out into
an open hardwood when I spotted the downed coyote. I sat and
watched for a few minutes to ensure he was down for keeps. The
coyote was done. He never moved.
I approached the big male coyote and estimated his weight at around
50 pounds. His early fall coat was close to prime. He was the
perfectly evolved predator for this part of the world. I couldn’t help
but have the utmost of respect for the animal that lay at my feet.
How many deer kills had he been a part of? How much small game
had he taken? How many pups carry his genes through these woods?
One small cog in nature’s perfectly balanced wheel had met another
cog this autumn morning. This time however the coyote lost the flip
of the coin. Mother Nature plays no favorites. In her domain there
are no right or wrong decisions. There are only consequences.
Perfectly complicated. Perfectly perfect..
Are you up to the Coyote Challenge?