The sun was just beginning it’s slow crawl to the west signaling end of Sunday afternoon and the start of Sunday evening when we entered the field. With our chairs set up and rifles on shooting sticks I started calling the coyotes as my Dad and Mike scanned the treeline for movement.
As the calls echoed through the woods they were quickly answered by challenge barks and greeting howls. Minutes passed and no visible sign of these Ghosts of the Forest yet. About 20 min in we spot something out of place…
“10 o’clock” Mike says, “right side of the fencepost…black mass”…
“Looks like a stump to me.” I reply, after figuring out where 10 o’clock was! “Dad, what do you think? ”
After moment or two he says “if it’s a log it’s staring at us!”
The three of us watched it a bit longer and agreed it was a log and continued to call and scan the treeline. I took another look at the fencepost, “hey Mike, is that log still there?”…”nope.” was his reply! And that is how our hunt went, a fantastic game of cat and mouse!!
After several episodes of “Shadow or Coyote” I saw something at the base of a scraggly old pine that just didn’t fit. I called it out and Mike confirmed it looked fuzzy! I readied to take the shot…
With my Henry already up and steadied by my shooting sticks I leaned forward tucking her into my shoulder in anticipation of the recoil. Left hand bracing the foregrip, crosshairs on the fuzzy dark mass, my right thumb engaged the hammer bringing it back to a full stop. “I’m gonna take it ” I said, just above a whisper. My breathing slowed and the wind died down and the grasses in front of my target stopped moving when I heard Mike confirm my intent “Send it…”
BOOM! Hank roared to life launching its 150gr projectile straight and true into the brush! Racking the lever, Hank sent the spent case twirling to the ground, clambering another, ready for a follow up shot. It felt great!
Mike said he saw it run after I shot so we moved toward the trees fully expecting to find our quarry near the tree. Instead what we found were fresh tracks where he had gotten up and sprinted further into the woods. Hoping for a blood trail we fanned out only to hear him calling behind a rise on the other side of the fence! He was safe and he knew it. We walked back to the field, his howls less like a serenade and more like laughter at our efforts!
“Wash, rinse repeat ” this time it was Mikes shot and we were yet again in the trees looking for any sign that we got him. No luck, just more singing from the other side of the fence! The obviousness of our being outmatched and the setting of the sun signaled it was time for us to pack it in.
We loaded our gear and headed home. The drive back was filled with laughter, “what if’s” and admiration for an animal that bested us through skill and adaptation, a true survivor!