I had a chance to get out this Thursday and took a good friend with me. He is an Arizona native and has hunted every corner of the globe, but never harvested a gray fox. I told him that there was very good chance that I could put him on a pair of them if he could spend the day with me. We both had things to do early that morning so we got out there around noon to hunt through the afternoon. I took him out to an area where I have called in a half dozen foxes during the scouting season, but never run them off or taken a shot.
The first stand was a blank, but we didn’t really have a good wind and the sun was high. The second stand was a great setup overlooking a big riverbed and we called in a coyote at about 10 minutes. But the coyote never came closer than about 200 yards and there was no way for me to reach out there with my shotgun.
The next few stands were blank as well, but we were in some amazing country and a light rain blew in cooling everything down about 20 degrees. We then hiked about a mile through a small canyon that was absolutely covered with tracks. Mule deer, coues deer, javelina, fox, bobcat, coyote, and some very fresh mountain lion footprints. All these tracks right on top of each other covering every inch of the wash. Our blood was pumping and our voices were low as we positioned ourselves on a steep hillside overlooking the dry wash running through the bottom of this canyon. We were hunting foxes but we both had mountain lion on the brain.
With the natural rock piles, low cover, and steep hills I was really expecting to see a fox here. But at about 10 minutes into this stand a coyote appeared out of nowhere directly behind the caller and decoy. For the second time that day I couldn’t reach with my shotgun and my buddy was not interested in shooting a coyote. The coyote stepped downwind of the decoy and did not like the smell at all. He quickly headed off up another big hillside to our right. I switched sounds to a coyote distress yelp and the coyote froze looking back at the decoy. I told my friend to take the shot but when I looked to my friend he was still scanning the bottom of the wash. The sun was setting out in front of us and he had lost sight of the coyote in the shadows.
My partner got a look at where I was pointing but still had no interest in shooting a coyote, so he handed me his AR and told me to take the shot myself. By the time I got seated the coyote was at the top of the hill looking back over the valley for a final glance before heading out. I placed the cross hairs over his chest and pulled the trigger, just as the ‘yote trotted off. The shot scattered the rocks on the hill right where the coyote had been standing.
We both climbed over to the top of the hill where the coyote had disappeared just to be sure, and realized that in a way it was a good thing I had missed. I had not brought all of my gear with me and I would have needed to carry the coyote all the way back to my truck, which was at least a mile and a half away. The coyote was pretty good sized and 40 pounds of dead weight would not have been fun. We stayed up there on that hill and watched the sunset, it was pretty dramatic with all the storm clouds in the sky and everything in the desert had come alive from the rain. I took some pictures with my phone couldn’t quite get one to do it justice. I love this desert more every time I go out, even more when spending time with an old friend that I had not seen in ages.
It was a day I won’t soon forget. We never did see a fox but sometimes hunting success isn’t measured by the fur in the back of your truck.