It’s not every day one of my editors asks me to spend the afternoon hunting with them. He wanted to try some spring coyote calling and I needed a story for this week, so off we went.
Mike Alfers, owner and editor of the Rural Messenger, has for many years hunted a large parcel of land north of Lincoln, KS in Lincoln County. According to Mike, the only thing more prevalent there than big bucks are coyotes, and he wanted to try his hand at thinning the pack a little.
After two hours on the road, we met up with the son of the landowner and stopped to look at a shed antler they had found that was from a big buck hunted and seen often this year by Mike and his brother. The antler was not unusually long but was as thick as a man’s wrist at the base and had one large drop tine among its numerous points.
We drove north out of Lincoln several miles then followed a gravel road to a spot on one edge of the property known as the gravel pit. We drove on past it and wound our way slowly up a rutted tractor path to the highest point around and found a couple lone hay bales where we could sight-in Mike’s new .17 caliber Savage rifle. From there pastures stretched out in front of us as far as the eye could see.
Below us, small wheat fields occupied the few acres of ground flat enough to plant, resembling puzzle pieces as they formed themselves to follow the edges of the creek as it snaked its way through the hills.
It was nearly dusk as we set up around the back of the old gravel pit. It lay at one end of a group of trees surrounded on three sides by hilly CRP patches. We hunkered down in a tree row full of prickly thorn trees of some description. One of the “puzzle piece” wheat fields lay a couple hundred yards to our left across the creek. Mike let the electronic caller howl and wail for a half hour or more before we decided to move to a shelf above the creek overlooking the wheat field.
We were discussing where best to place ourselves and the caller, when not far to our left coyote howls broke the calm of the evening. It was impossible to know how many were there, as three or four can sound like a dozen. Chills went up and down my spine, but I could honestly have sat down right there and listened to them for hours. The howling quit and I hustled down the hill a bit to a spot where I could watch the wheat field through the trees. No sooner had I settled in than the coyotes began again, this time using all those different sounds they seem to greet each other with just before embarking on the night’s mission. For several seconds whines, barks, cries and yips of all descriptions & octaves filled the air as the group coordinated the evening’s events. Then just as suddenly as it had all started, all was quiet again as the group faded into the still of the evening.
A four-hour round trip was a long time to drive for one hour of coyote hunting, but those couple minutes of authentic, in-the-wild coyote sounds were all I needed to make the whole trip worthwhile; that and several hours of catching-up and reconnecting with a good friend! And before you ask, no coyotes were harmed in the writing of this story!
Steve can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
photo credit – Diana Robinson