Arizona mountain lion

Things have been busy at work lately and I have not been getting out to hunt at all. Today I had planned on leaving work early and heading out into the desert to chase some coyotes. I work the night shift so early for me is 5 am. My wife had a rough day so I decided to stop by the house on the way out of town, this ended with me falling asleep instead of going out.

When I woke up around 10am I had a text message from my boss so I decided to hit the office really quick and get out in the early afternoon. Really quick turned into 5 hours and I didn’t get my tires back on the road until about 4pm. Years ago I had some gold claims up north and with my new Jeep I could actually get back to it. I had seen and heard coyotes there in the past but it was about an hour away which would leave me with about 30 minutes before sunset to hunt. I really needed some time out in the desert and figured 30 minutes and an Arizona sunset would be worth the 2 hour round trip.

When I got out there, I found a good place to hide the Jeep, hiked a few hundred yards down a hill, and found a great spot on top of a 20 foot cliff that gave me about a 270 degree view of the bend of a dry riverbed. There was some heavy cover out between 150 and 300 yards in front of me. I hiked down into the riverbed and setup my FoxPro Hellfire about 60 yards from where I would be sitting.

When got back into position on top of the cliff it was 5:10 pm, I had 26 minutes to hunt before sunset. I started running the call with some rabbit distress and about 8 minutes in was scanning the treeline through my scope when I thought I heard something behind me. I took a quick glance over my shoulder and didn’t see anything. I figured the sound was just the strap of my rifle hitting some tall grass where I was sitting.

About that time I switched up the sound on the caller and heard a low growl behind me. I looked over my shoulder again and still didn’t see anything. This time I thought the sound might have been a small airplane rolling. A lot of pilots come out this way, do barrel rolls and buzz a nearby lake, I was hoping that they keep their distance. I thought I heard the growl a few more times, but something just seemed a little off. I looked over my shoulder at least a dozen times and never saw anything.

At 5:30 I had been on the stand for 20 minutes and decided to call it a day. I took my shotgun out of my lap and set my rifle down next to it. I pulled out my cell phone to take a picture of the area I had been calling, the sky was starting to change and the reds and yellows reflecting of the rocks looked great. I stood up to stretch my legs, stretched my arms over my head and twisted to the right to stretch my spine.

That is when I saw it, the lion was about 40 yards behind me, staring right at me, crouched low, in that position cats get right before an attack.

I dropped my cellphone, cracking the screen, and bent over to grab my shotgun as fast as I had ever moved in my life.

As soon as I moved so did the cat. It covered 100 feet in about a second.

I kicked off my safety as I was swinging the barrel at the cat and aimed for the hollow in front of his shoulder. It was weird, there was a shadow there about the size of a quail, and in that instant I was thinking in my head, “just hit that bird”.

I pulled the trigger right as his front paws were hitting the ground about 20 feet from me and he just collapsed like a marionette with cut strings. As fast as it happened I think I had the next round loaded in my 870 before he fully hit the ground and I was already taking a step back.

I didn’t need the step or the next round. But I held the gun pointed at the big tom for at least a minute before I moved toward it. I stared at it in shock and for a long time couldn’t hear anything but my heartbeat pounding. At some point over the next few minutes I realized that my caller was still running and went to collect it.

I took the caller and my guns up to the Jeep and looked for a way to get closer to where the big cat was laying. I managed to get the Jeep a few hundred feet closer but still had a major hill to haul it up. I was pretty spent by the time I got the cat to the back of my Jeep. If anyone had been watching me I am sure they would have been laughing at that point. Any pro-hunter points I scored with that great shot on a charging animal, were totally canceled out by my inability to get the cat into my Jeep. I did everything wrong for about 10 minutes before I was flat out exhausted and realized that I just needed to either work on my deadlifts in the gym for a month and come back, or bear hug it and leap into the back of the Jeep with it.

After I got the cougar situated in the Jeep I realized that I hadn’t taken a single picture of it, and that my phone was still on the ground back down the hill. It was nearly dark by the time I found my phone and the cat was laying on a tarp which isn’t the best background for a picture. I briefly thought about unloading the cat and trying to get a few pictures but I had a long way back to town, and even longer to my buddy’s place where I have a game freezer.

When I got to my friends place I didn’t tell him what I had, just that I needed a hand outside. The look on his face when I popped the back door of the Jeep was absolutely priceless.

The only way I can really sum it all up, terrifying and awesome.

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Back into the desert

Well it finally happened, my old blue hunting truck decided it wasn’t going to go freeway speed anymore. With that, I have not been able to get out coyote hunting for the last few weeks and barely been able to make it to work. I spent two weeks shopping around for something that I could use out in the hills and as a daily driver. I finally decided that I needed a Jeep Cherokee. After spending several hours on different websites I narrowed it down to a 1999 Cherokee for a number of reasons. Saturday I finally found one with relatively low miles and a perfectly straight body.

my new jeep

My new daily driver and coyote hauler

I bought the Jeep around noon, spent 3 hours getting it registered, and got home around 4pm. The Sun is setting pretty early these days so I had to race across town to get into position before dark.

I headed deep into Unit 22, in an area I had been four wheeling and seen lots of sign the last two years, but had never been calling. I found a spot off the main trail to park and hiked into the sunset. I crossed four or five hills before finding a place to setup. I was on a big rise, with a giant cholla behind me. I was positioned just to the west of where two washes joined in a Y. I set the caller and decoy on my side of the Y so that nothing would be able to sneak in without me seeing it. The Sun was at my back and the wind blowing up the wash in the direction I hiked in from, so I knew I was pretty clear for anything coming in anywhere except from due North.

After catching my breath from the hike up the hill, I started running the call at about 30% volume. Within about two minutes I saw a coyote coming in hard over a hilltop about 400 yards to the South-East. The coyote was headed straight to the West and turned heading North when he reached the wash bottom that the caller was setup in. at about 80 yards from the caller he slowed up, pausing a few times behind bushes where I couldn’t see. But when he came into the open in front of the caller he was moving pretty quick. I had the coyote in my sights and was just about to bark to freeze him, when he raised his head, looked at the decoy, and paused.

The coyote was right at 100 yards from me and I pulled the trigger with the crosshairs right behind his shoulder. Usually this drops them like they have been hit by lightning, but this coyote took off running like nothing happened. I have been worried that my scope might be a little off and cursed myself for not seeing where the bullet hit. I tried to pick up the coyote in my scope but he was moving too fast, then he turned and started running straight up the hill toward me. I dropped my AR-15 and grabbed the pistol at my hip, but he was too fast. Before I could clear my holster the coyote was 5 yards in front of me moving top speed.

Then the coyote collapsed, sliding through the dust, coming to rest short of 8 feet from my boots, stone dead. It’s funny, you think that you play through every possible scenario in your head, but when you get out there something totally unpredictable happens every single time. I had setup the stand with about 10 minutes before sunset, and had a coyote in my hands with 5 minutes to spare. I hiked down to pick up the caller and spent a few minutes enjoying the sunset.

sunset in the desert after coyote hunting

Enjoying the sunset at the end of a great day.

 

 

First coyote with the new jeep

This coyote almost ended up right in my lap.

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Called one in

So Wednesday I had a late start in the office and decided to go call an area where I had heard some coyotes, but never pulled the trigger on one. I headed out from home at about 4 am, set off the locator call before first light, had some responses and snuck in within about 300 yards of where I was hearing ‘yotes.After dawn I was running some quiet rodent distress calls when I heard a vehicle coming down the road behind me. I muted the call waiting for the truck to pass, It was about a half mile off but made a bunch of noise. After a few minutes of silence I was about to start running my call when I heard a FoxPro Bay Bee Cottontail about 80 yards behind me. I still don’t know how i missed them coming in but I was sitting pretty much in the open within what had to be line of sight to their caller. I thought it might be funny to tear loose with some bark howls on my caller which was about 30 yards from me. But was actually worried that I might get myself shot on accident. Instead, I sat stone still while they ran through about 10 sounds in 8 or 9 minutes. Then they got up and left. When their SUV was headed back down the dirt road, I took off my camo, gathered my things and hiked out.Last season I called in the same two quail hunters twice on the same day, about 10 miles apart, but this was the first time I have run into another predator hunter in the field.

It was a few miles from where I was parked back to the Highway, but when I got there I saw the same white SUV parked on the south side of the road, for a minute I thought it would be fun to sneak up on them and start blasting my caller, but I headed home instead.

Anyway, if any of you were hunting Cow Creek wash north of Lake Pleasant Wednesday morning, you almost got me.

Arizona sunrise

Didn’t get any coyotes, but I caught this great Arizona sunrise.

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FoxPro Hellfire vs. Wildfire review

I have used the Wildfire and Spitfire, both with a lot of success. Recently someone was asking about whether they should get the new FoxPro Hellfire or the Wildfire on one of the forums I frequent. It was late and I was tired so I typed up a little more than what was probably needed. Anyway, someone else asked the same question a few days later and I couldn’t find my review. After some digging I decided that I should post my review here in case it comes up again:

Both the Wildfire and Hellfire hold 200 sounds, and use the same remote, with Foxbang. It is about $350 for the Hellfire and $200 for the Wildfire.

The Wildfire it a little smaller and about half the weight than the Hellfire. Batteries last longer in the Wildfire and the Wildfire does not get as loud as the Hellfire. When you power up the Wildfire (and the Spitfire with the same speaker) there is some noticeable static coming from the plastic speaker.

The Wildfire has a green indicator light and the power on switch is identical to and right next to the speaker off switch. The green indicator light is hard to see in the daytime and even with it powered up there is a chance that the speaker will be flipped to ‘off’. I cant tell you how many times I would sneak out to setup my caller, get hidden, sit for a few minutes, then send a signal to a caller that wouldn’t make noise. Then had to go back out and start over again, laying down more human scent in the area I wanted to call. I eventually got in the habit of placing the caller to my ear to listen for the static before setting the caller down and walking away.

The plastic speaker also seems to have issues with certain notes at high volume. The tone becomes tinny and some coyote howls resonate weird when the volume is up.

Aside from those issues the caller is deadly. I used my Spitfire for two years and called in hundreds of coyote, and a half dozen bobcats. I still carry that caller if I am doing a lot of hiking because it is so light and easy to pack. This is the caller I was using to bring in foxes on a failed Dove Hunt.

Wild specs review.

In Red: Power on/off switch, and Speaker on/off switch. The switches have a high profile and can get flipped in transport. Leading to dead batteries in addition to the problem with setting up to call.
In Green: is the power indicator, which is difficult to see in the daytime.

I have a Hellfire as well. The Hellfire is built on a TOA PA Horn and is LOUD. The FoxPro electronics are solidly built into an extended magnet cover on the back of the speaker, held in place with three screws, the battery pack is attached to the frame. I love the on/off switch on this unit, it is an old school steel toggle that just feels solid to flip on. When I first powered mine up I thought it was broken, because there was absolutely no static coming from the speaker. But It plays the sounds perfectly, sounds are crystal clear at any volume, and it gets loud! The sounds never break up or sound tinny even on difficult howls at top volume. (Did I mention it is loud?).

The Hellfire is a little bulky, being twice the weight as the Wildfire, but maybe I am not used to carrying it yet. It also burns trough batteries faster, but using the FoxPro rechargeable pack they tend to last much longer. You will still get a full day of calling at max volume with regular batteries (8+hours).

FoxPro hellfire review picture

At the top is the steel on/off toggle, that is recessed enough that it won’t be turned on in transit. This picture is the off position. The ‘Batt’ indicator light is bright amber, so you will see it an predators won’t. It also flashes as a low battery indicator. The Wildfire does not have that feature. All of the electronics are located in this housing, the black nylon case on the frame is the battery pack.

I wanted to save up the money for one of the CS24b’s from the custom shop, but other than the custom remote I couldn’t see or hear too much difference between it or the Hellfire. I am sure at some point I will be kicking myself for not putting up the cash for that other remote, it has the dial selector on top and comes with the Foxcast programming.

In my eyes the Spitfire/Wildfire are ‘entry level’ e-callers. The Hellfire is by far the cheapest ‘Pro’ caller on the market. The great thing about them is they both hold their value. A statement about the quality of the company and the honesty of their business practices.

Either way you go you are going to call in ‘yotes for sure. Feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions.

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First Bobcat of Fall

With the foxes last weekend and the coyote a few weeks before, I am in full swing for predator season. I have been avoiding some of my coyote hot spots, hoping to save some for the FoxPro hunting contest this year. So in the mean time I have been doing a lot of scouting and a little calling.

Saturday morning I went out to Unit 22 with my buddy Don. We went into a spot on Sycamore Creek that had been closed for the past few months due to the Sunflower fire. We were a little late getting out there but we put in three 20 minute stands without anything coming in. We also didn’t hear any howls in response to our calls. Last year I regularly got a great response to group howls in that area. It could have been too late in the morning, or maybe there just weren’t any coyote around. We spent the rest of the morning driving the back roads looking for scat and tracks with little success.

Sunday night I was having a hard time sleeping, so about 4am I gave up and decided to get out and do some calling for a few hours. I headed about an hour north of Phoenix in Unit 20b. I went to a place where I had done some calling a few weeks back and had a few coyotes howling back to me.

I hiked into a wide wash with my FoxPro Hellfire and my R-15 until I found a fairly open area with a clear hillside overlooking it. I set up my Hellfire in the middle of the clearing right in the middle of a dead staghorn cactus. From here there was a clear line of site in every direction for about 40 yards. I climbed the hill and set myself up about 60 yards from the caller, I could see just about every route to the caller, but there was a palo verde tree right in between me and where the caller was setup. This is a good thing because I think I tend to watch the caller and decoy if I have a totally clear line of sight to them.

I started the call at about 25% volume and turned it up over the next two minutes to just under 50% running cottontail distress. I was facing West and the sun was coming up behind me but I was still in the shade of the hillside. About 2 minutes later I heard a series of howls off to my right, at least a pair of coyote, maybe more, but a long way off. About two minutes after those howls I decided to switch sounds to reach out to those coyote. I grabbed my remote, highlighted the sound I wanted, and looked up just in time to see a bobcat coming in to the call from the right.

It was standing tall but creeping in to the caller. I put my scope on it and was shocked by the spots on its back. Most of the bobcats I have shot were almost completely solid orange on their backs but this one was covered in tan spots. I had not planned on taking any bobcats this early I the year, but I have an idea for a project in my head and really wanted these spots.

At about 70 yards I took a broadside shot, the cat flipped about 10 feet in the air, took three steps, and collapsed. I kept the call running for another 10 minutes with a mix of sounds before going over to check out the cat. It was thinner then I had thought, but tall, by far the longest legs and body of any bobcat I have shot. The spots looked great too, I can’t wait to get this one tanned.

I skinned the cat in a big mesquite tree and was back in town by 8am. Pretty great way to start the day.

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‘Dove Hunting’ for grey fox.

This weekend I decided to go out dove hunting with a good friend. We headed up north on a tip and hunted near Cordes Lakes. I am pretty sure that neither of us have an eye for dove. I think total for the day we each saw and shot at one, with no hits. After awhile we gave up on the dove and decided to do some calling with my FoxPro caller. We put in two 20 minute stands and didn’t see a thing. The whole area was infested with giant grasshoppers, maybe the foxes and coyote are full up on them. I have never seen such big grasshoppers or so many in one place.

Grasshoppers

 

Even if the hunting was lacking, it was a great way to spend a day with a great friend. He has a lot more experience dove hunting then I do, and he did his best to pass some knowledge on to me without actually shooting at anything. This got me pretty fired up about hunting doves, so I decided to head out on my own the next day.

I overslept in the morning and had a few things to do around the house. So I made plans to hit the road about 3pm, which would give me the last 2 hours of the day to hunt. I decided to hit up some of the big cattle tanks West of Four Peaks. With all the rain this season I figured that they would be full, and there is no ranching going on out there so I wouldn’t have cows to deal with.

On the way out to Four Peaks, just a couple miles passed the Verde River, I had to swerve to miss a desert tortoise that was crossing the 87. It was right in the middle of the highway, so I spun around, flipped on my emergency lights, and stood in the highway in a blaze orange shirt directing traffic around it until it was well on its way.

When I got to the area I wanted to hike into I grabbed a box of dove shot for my 870, and an extra 3 rounds of Dead Coyote #T shot. I had my FoxPro SpitFire in my backpack and figured that I could do some calling if the dove hunting didn’t work out. Within the first few steps from the road I nearly stepped on the biggest desert cottontail that I have ever seen. It looks like the rain has done more than just green up the desert, I will be chasing those fat rabbits in about 2 months.

The rest of the hike to the tank had me jump 3 coveys of Gambel’s quail and one big red striped rosy boa.

I hiked around the tank a few times, there were a bunch of coyote tracks in the soft sand. I also found some bobcat tracks, and the tracks of 2 other hunters, one with a big dog. Most of these were a few days old, but the coyote tracks were fresh. So not seeing any doves I decided to change tactics.

Calling Arizona Foxes

This is the view from the stand. My caller is on the lower left, Four Peaks in the background.

I hiked just short of a mile from the tank and set up the caller on top of a staghorn cactus. Then I climbed a hill about 30 yards, and put the three Dead Coyote ammo in the 870.

About 7-8 minutes into the call I saw some movement to my right. A grey fox was coming up out of a rocky wash and headed right to my caller. I waited until he was about 15 yards from the caller before I dropped him.

Normally at this point I would shut off the caller and pick up the fox. But I decided to sit tight and let it run. About 2 minutes later, another fox came up out of the same wash. This one was following right in the first ones steps and I wasn’t sure what it would do when it came up on the first one. So I shot it about 60 yards out from where I was sitting.

This was my first fox ‘double’, and on a dove hunt. Not what I drove out there for, but it definitely made my day.

 

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First Coyote of Fall – Hunting Coyote in Unit 6a

Well I guess calling it Fall is a little generous. It is still well over 100 degrees in the valley so I have been spending my weekends in the tall pines. Either with family at our cabin in Pine or up on Willow Springs Lake with friends. This weekend was spent with the family and, as usual, I couldn’t sleep. At about 4:00am I decided to give up on sleep and go do some calling up on the rim.

Calling for yotes in 6b

Calling for coyote in 6a. This area burned in the spring which is why everything is orange, but it is recovering fast with all of the rain this season.

Early one morning last fall I had seen a big dark coyote crossing the 260 outside Camp Verde. Back in January I had tried calling that area but in 3 feet of snow nothing was moving. About 2 weeks ago I was able to get in a quick stand in the area between cloudbursts and called in a dark coyote like the one I had seen on the highway. But I didn’t notice it until it had seen me and it was gone before I could get my scope on it.

Today everything was wet, but not raining. The area I was hunting had burned this spring and with the rain it was easier then usual to hike in without making any noise. I set up my first stand just outside of sight from the truck right as the sun was rising. I called for about 20 minutes without seeing anything but angry woodpeckers.

I picked up all my gear and went in for a hike. I had never hiked into this part of the forest and ended up going a few miles across the forested plateau over to the rim looking North. Being this close to the rim I was glad to have a lion tag in my pocket and hoping to get lucky.

I set up my second stand looking South in the shadow of a big ponderosa pine. I set up my caller and decoy about 70 yards in front of me, made it back to my seat, checked the screen on my remote for the sound I wanted, put my finger over the volume button, and looked up to see a coyote about 20 feet from my decoy standing broadside staring right at me. I was so shocked I just kept on with my routine, instead of lifting my rifle I hit the volume button on my remote. The caller screamed out at 80% volume and the coyote bolted in top gear. I raised my rifle and watched it disappear into the trees. It did pause about 250 yards out, but not long enough for me to pull the trigger, then it was gone.

This was the first time since about February that I had a clear shot at a coyote and my heart was pumping. I sat there sweating and shaking with my pulse beating in my ears like bongo drums. I was totally thrilled, and kicking myself at the same time.

It took a few minutes to get my heart rate under control while scanning the trees in case he circled back. Then I turned the caller down, ran it for about 5 more minutes. Then changed to a higher pitched distress call and turned it back up.

About 90 seconds later I saw a flash of blonde in the trees a few hundred yards out. Raised my scope and waited. The coyote stepped clear about 50 yards from my decoy in a trot, then bolted right at it. I let loose about 2 seconds later and dropped it dead at 110 yards. He was probably the biggest coyote I have shot, but still smaller then the other two I have seen in that area. He is also the first yote I have shot in unit 6a. I will definitely be back.

coyote stand arizona 6a

View from the stand, you can just see the coyote on the ground 110 yards out to the right of the big pine.

Unit 6a | Coyote M | 8/18/2012

 

 

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greening up in January

I had a late start this morning counting against me but with a little cloud cover on my side I figured we might have a good chance at seeing some action today. I was with my buddy Don who was hoping to get a shot at something with a new 20ga over under that he had received as a birthday gift the night before. We were heading into an area that I had some success with the previous week and figured at the least we would get a shot at a fox or two.

The other thing up against us on this morning was the fact that this was the long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The road on the way out that usually is totally empty, aside from some cactus and snakes, looked like a gypsy camp. The first mile of the forest road looked like it had a higher population density then most cities in the Phoenix area. I was starting to doubt my decision to come out here.

Eventually we had to drive about 2 miles down the river bottom further from the highway then I had planned just to get free of the campfires. This took us into the far end of the canyon where I had not been before, but I felt like we were sufficiently clear of any campers.

Our first stand was in my typical coyote cover. A mix of cactus, creosote, and thin mesquite. I had a half dozen open shooting lanes from where I was sitting out to a slight incline 50 yards in front of me. My buddy set up on the other side of the low tree I was using to break up my silhouette and my caller was setup about 35 yards right in front of me.

Started the stand with the DSG cottontail, then switched to Platinum Fox, about 8 minutes in I changed to the Bay Bee Cottontail. Just as I was about to shut off the caller 15 minutes in a small Coopers Hawk buzzed my decoy. I usually see that as a good omen, and I really love watching these birds so I let it run a few more minutes. He circled all around us a few times making some noise and trying to figure out what it was looking at.

Still running the call 5 minutes later, watching this hawk, I saw some movement on top of the rise about 80 yards in front of me. A reddish coyote was coming in and froze on the hillside looking right at my decoy. In a smooth motion I shouldered my R-15, put the large reticle of my Nikon Coyote Special right over its shoulder and squeezed the trigger.

I had run the call longer then I had planned and it paid off big time. A coyote on the first stand, my day was made no matter what. As I was standing up to collect my prey the hawk that had been circling dropped out of the sky and sunk its talons into my decoy. The big bird wrestled with it for about 30 seconds and even flapped it wings a few times trying to pick it up. Don and I both started laughing and the bird took a few hops towards us before flying away.

 

I shot from the yellow spot in the upper right. I am tagging the coyote on my GPS.

We drove up the canyon a few hundred yards after this and hiked in for our second stand. I repeated the same call pattern and at about 10 minutes I saw the back of a coyote coming in to the call. I got my rifle ready and waited for it to clear the horizon but it never came. I tried turning down the caller and cranking it back up, but never had another response. The only thing I can think is that it circled down the sleight wash we were sitting above and winded us. Still I was pretty happy seeing 2 coyote on 2 stands.

By now the campers were waking up and we were starting to hear machine guns and motorcycles in the distance. It sounded like they were filming another sequel to Mad Max. There was plenty of room between us but to be safe and to increase our chances of calling something in we headed even further down the canyon away from any traffic. Also to be safe I decided to trade in my 223 for my 12 gauge, I really can be paranoid.

Another mile down the road it started to look like we weren’t in Arizona anymore. The river bottom here had a canopy of mature mesquite with thick green grass coming in below. The tree cover was thick enough that it was easily 15 degrees cooler here and we were in shade the whole time. The thick grass muffled any noise from our boots and I was fairly optimistic about our next stand although it was only about a 100 yard walk from where we had parked the truck.

The thick green grass under the mesquite kept us cool and muffled our footsteps on the way in.

Started the same song on the caller, DSG, Platinum fox, then bay bee cottontail. During the bay bee cottontail I saw some movement to my left. There was a good sized coyote that I could just make out on the other side of a big cat claw bush. It stop just opposite of the bush from me and I could see was its head. It took a quick look at the decoy then turned and looked right at me through the thick cover. I had not moved an inch at this point and have no idea how he made me. The only thing I can think is that he was suspicious of me before I saw him and was just double checking.

Until he looked at me he was on a beeline for the decoy and that would have put him right in line with my buddy and his new 20 gauge loaded with #3 buck. But he froze looking in my direction and looked like he was about to back out of the area. I raised my 870 and fired at him with a load of Hevi-Shot Dead Coyote T shot. This dropped him in his tracks.

Coyote number two. Taken with the 870 and T shot just under 30 yards.

Over the next hour or so we put in two more stands and called in another small coopers hawk and three big angry bulls, nothing to shoot at.

By the end of the morning I had two ‘yotes, and between stands Don shot a good sized jack rabbit. It took us about an hour and a half to get them all skinned out and cleaned up. Nothing beats time spent outdoors with a good friend. All in all a pretty great day.

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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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