on the run

So the past month I have seen more coyotes than I have since moving to Arizona 13 years ago. But between sitting out a deer hunt and poor judgement on my part I have yet to lay one down this fall. The hesitation on the last one in my sights was still weighing heavy on my mind and I couldn’t wait to get out in the field again.

After working another night shift I went home slept for about 4 hours then started planning my afternoon. I didn’t get out the door until after 2pm and knew that I would only have a few hours until dark . The sun is going down at about 5:30 now and it is dark by 6pm.So I knew that I would not be able to hit any of my regular hot spots. My plan was to park on Four Peaks Road and race into the hills a few miles away from all the dirt bikes as quick as I could.Instead I found a new road that took me back a few miles.

When I felt I was a good distance from the daily traffic in the area I parked and headed into the hills. I set up for my first stand in a less than ideal area and called for about 20 minutes. I realized at some point during the stand that I would not be able to see most anything coming in from where I was sitting and packed it in.

second stand location with Four Peaks in the background.

My next stand was much better. I had a good view of about 3 hills within range of my 223 and could see just about every route that a critter could take to get to my decoy. My only blind spot was the back side of the little rise that my decoy was sitting on.

Sure enough, within about 15 minutes of calling I heard something coming in, and a nice reddish coyote busted right out of the blind spot and was about to run off with my decoy. I guess that it didn’t like the taste because it let go and shifted into high gear.

It actually came right at me full speed but was within 30 yard when I first saw it and covered that ground in about a blink. There was no way to get a site picture with the 223 so I dropped the rifle, stood, and pulled my 357 from my hip. By the time I grabbed my pistol the ‘yote had come within 10 feet of me and by the time I drew the gun he was already about 45 yards away. I sent one shot off at it missing the back of his head by about a half inch and blowing a nice sized crater into the desert 15 yard ahead of him. With this he made a hard left and vanished like they do.

At this point I was kicking myself yet again for not bringing my shotgun along, but remembered that there was a spot with some lighter cover and bigger hills a few miles from there. I packed up my gear and headed out.

I settled on a high ridge with my FOXPRO SpitFire about 50 yards out. Beyond that was a ridge top about 200 yards from me. 15 minutes into the stand I saw a yote coming in fast over the ridge toward my call. Not wanting to repeat my errors from a few days before I put the scope on him and left it there. He came all the way down to within about 50 yards on the far side of the call before clearing the brush and giving me a clear broadside shot. I squeezed off a round and lost my view of him in the recoil. I looked over the top of my scope and saw a yote headed back up the hill about 15 yards from where he had been and quickly lined him up for another shot which ended up being a clean miss.

Within a second he was gone over the top of the ridge that he came from. I lowered my rifle dejected,  just in time to see 3 other yotes race back over the ridge. I had been so focused on the single yote in my scope I had not seen the other three that came with him. Four coyote in one stand was a new best for me. I played a ki-yi for a few minutes and watched the ridge but they were on the run and moving fast. There was still enough light for me to move to one more stand but I figured missing a total of five yotes in a day was enough. I hiked down, collected my caller and my decoy and decided to wander over to where I had shot at the yote.

To be fair it had been nearly three weeks since I had fired my rifle, but I was hammering a dime at 100 yards and there is no way my scope was that far off. I just had to go see if there was any hair or blood over where that yote had been standing. It moved off pretty quick but I didn’t think I could have missed that bad.

I got my bearings, headed off to where I thought he was standing. Stepped past a creosote bush, and imagine my surprise to find a shot yote laying right in front of me. I had actually called in five yotes on that stand, and was right: There was no way I missed that first one.

A big fat male yote with a white tipped tail. Starting the season off with a “two pointer”, it really felt good. The Hornaday 40 grain 223 had done the trick. There was not a drop of blood on him, the bullet left all its energy in its heart and lungs with no exit wound at all. My first yote with a 223 and it couldn’t have gone better, aside from the mile and a half back to the truck, that wouldn’t start, and skinning him in the dark while I was waiting for the cavalry to come pull me out.

Aside from that, a perfect afternoon.

First yote of the season with the FoxPro

 

 

 

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hesitation

I had some time to kill today after work so I went out to the four peaks area in Unit 22 to do some hiking and predator calling.

I hiked about a mile from 4 peaks road and setup in an area where I had some success last season. I started the first 10 minutes of the stand with the DSG Cottontail on my
FOXPRO SpitFire
with a Mojo Critter setup about 30 yards from me. I had my back to a cliff and the wind in my face so I knew from here I would be able to see anything coming in. After about 10 minutes I switched to the Bay Bee Cottontail sound and within about 30 seconds saw some movement on the hill directly in front of me.

The hill was about 120 yards out and I could see the back of a ‘yote heading left to right just on the other side of the hill. After about 50 yards the ‘yote stepped over the crest of the hill and stopped, facing directly toward me but looking at the decoy. I had my cross-hairs right over the center of his chest. I have not shot a ‘yote since spring and my heart was pounding. In my head I was thinking that it was obvious that the ‘yote was still coming in and I didn’t really want to have to hike all the way up that hill to pick him up. Much less carry him all the way back down to a good place to skin him.

So I didn’t pull the trigger.

But sure enough he came racing down the hill and was within about 5 feet of my decoy. The ‘yote paced back and forth trying to figure out what there was to eat but always stayed in just enough cover that I didn’t trust my shot with a 40 grain 223.

After a few minutes of checking out my decoy he just disappeared. From where I was sitting I should have been able to see him leave the valley I was in, but he found a way out. I spent the next 30 minutes running about every sound I had trying to get him to stick his head out again. But he was long gone. That would have been more than enough time to hike up the hill and skin him out if only I hadn’t hesitated.

Lesson learned, when you have the shot, take it.

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Squirrel Crazy

In 2010 my squirrel hunt was one of the highlights of my hunting season and I couldn’t wait for the squirrel season to start this year. I decided that this season I would be in the trees opening day with a few friends. I had hunted turkey in the spring in unit 4b and found a camping spot that I was pretty comfortable with. We headed up to that same spot the day before to get our bearings and set a plan for opening day. There was a lot more traffic in those woods during the early Elk season then there was while I was up there chasing gobblers but our camping site was secluded enough that we were not bothered by any traffic, well not hunters anyway.

After unpacking our gear we hiked down to a couple of waterholes about a half mile from camp but didn’t see any squirrels. While we were out we climbed into a few old turkey blinds and did some predator calling for about a half hour with no takers. There was a ton of elk sign near the water and we found that at least a few turkeys had been stomping around. That Spring I had seen a herd of antelope in the trees nearby and there were fresh tracks from them as well.

For dinner we roasted a whole pack of hotdogs in tinfoil right on the fire. About half the pack was pretty burned but with some mustard and a can of sardines it was actually a great meal.

Things started getting crazy as soon as the fire went out. Shortly after climbing into our tents we heard a bull elk bugling, it sounded like it was about a half mile away at the waterhole. The guys that I was hunting with had never been this close to a bugling elk before and they were pretty excited. Then the bull started coming closer. Every minute or two this bull was screaming and coming closer. At about 3am it sounded like it was right on the other side of our truck 25 yards away. At this point a pack of coyotes joined in the chorus. First we heard them just beyond where the elk was standing, then one opposite camp, then another to our North, slowly more and more coyote joined in until they were all around us. After about a 10 minute screaming match between the coyote and that bull elk everything went silent. But the silence didn’t last. Within about 30 minutes the bull elk started bugling again from a few hundred yards on the other side of our camp site and did not stop until dawn. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep.

When we finally rolled out of camp that morning we spotted the herd of elk that had been keeping us up all night. It was about a dozen cows and one big 6×6 bull. They ran right across the road in front of us as we were headed to some better squirrel country about 2 miles north of camp.

Sunrise in the Ponderosas

We did not see any squirrels for at least the first 3 hours of daylight. But did get to watch an awesome sunrise through the tall pines. We did get dive bombed by about a half dozen crows that managed to fly right between the shot from my buddy Jared’s 20 gauge.

Finally around 11 am I spotted the first Aberts Squirrel of the day. It was sitting right in the split of a big Ponderosa about 80 feet up. Jared had never shot a squirrel before so I pointed it out and he knocked it from its perch with some no.8 shot from his break action 20 gauge. I found a nice mule deer shed about 30 feet from where this squirrel landed to add to the stack at the house.

I think that the shed must have been a good luck charm because within about 5 minutes Jared had harvested his second squirrel of the day. He was looking forward to so squirrel and dumplings so we stopped to clean these two. As they were being skinned out I spotted our 3rd squirrel of the day watching us work and added him to the menu.

One Down

The three of us were pretty tired from the lack of sleep and all the hiking that morning and we decided to head back to camp. As we were rolling into camp I saw a flash of white a few hundred yards from the road and headed that way after we stopped the truck. After about a 5 minute chase this one turned out to be the largest squirrel of the day. I packed him whole on ice and took him to my taxidermist for a mount.

All in all we collected a one man limit between the three of us and had a great time doing it. I am already looking forward to opening day 2012.

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