2013 Javelina hunt

I first spotted a new javelina herd back in November. It was close to thirty individuals and they were bedding down within about 3 miles of the highway, seemed like a much easier hunt then the herd I chased (unsuccessfully) in the previous year. I even told my best friend that I could guarantee him a pig for his bow hunt in December. We hiked in, spooked the herd, reconnected with them about a mile later, got within 51 yards, and spooked them again before he had a shot. I couldn’t find the herd for weeks after that.That was the end of his hunt. But I chased the same herd for mine.

Javelina Hunt Day One

I headed out around midnight took my heavy wool blanket, that I usually use instead of a sleeping bag, and spent the night in my Jeep. This was huge for me because this Jeep is the first car since my old Cordova back in the day that was more than transportation to me. I actually slept pretty well for a few hours and woke up 10 minutes ahead of my alarm. I hiked down into the valley right as the sun was coming up. The valley that I was hunting has a big mountain in the bottom off it. It rises up about 500 feet and from space looks like a backwards capital “L”. The point of the “L” is a lower elevation and creates an easy saddle to get through to another valley.

I set up on a big hillside opposite of the long side of “L mountain”, this side faces east and gets a strong blast of the morning sun. Usually javelina will look for a south or east facing slope to warm up first thing in the morning. This day they had other plans or I picked the wrong hillside. I hiked up the hill and found areas where the javelina had been feeding. I then headed North to the top of L mountain and in a patch of heavy palo verde trees I found a javelina bedding area with loads of fresh scat. I was only a few hours behind the herd and there was only one way they could have gone.

I headed further North to a rocky cliff with a narrow wash below. The bottom of this wash channels all of the rainfall from the valley and here it acts like a spring, bubbling up for about 20 feet then the water drops back into the gravel of the wash. There were javelina tracks everywhere but I could not tell if any were laid down that day.

I spent the rest of the day hiking up and down L mountain and glassing the valleys on either side. I watched a huge 4 by 4 mule deer walk within 60 yard of me and bed down but I never did find any fresher sign of my herd.

There is a huge 4×4 mule deer bedded down in this picture, do you see him?

Javelina Hunt Day Two

Day two went pretty similar to day one. I hiked in, glassed the hillside in the morning, and didn’t see any sign of the javelina. I hiked up L mountain and on a rocky outcropping found some old indian petroglyphs. There was a spiral carved into the rock right below my eye level. It was odd to stand in front of it and realize that it was at the perfect height to comfortably work, and to realize that a few hundred years ago someone was standing in the same place banging three rocks together to leave their mark on the world. I did the modern equivalent and posted it to instagram.

I had an apple for lunch and hiked back to the jeep under a light rain right at dark.

Petroglyph on top of the mountain during my javelina hunt.

This picture cracks me up.

Javelina Hunt Day Three

I decided on day three to hike into a canyon about an hour further down the road which I had hunted the previous year. In 2012 we were in the depth of a drought and there was hardly any water in the desert. Most of the animals were living off of the prickly pear cactus as a last resort. But this canyon, a few miles in had a series of springs that existed in even the driest years. There were at least a few herds of javelina that based their territory off of these springs and I had walked right up on them last year, but blew my stalk and never took a shot.

I parked in my usual spot and started the hike in. I immediately noticed a difference from previous years, water, water everywhere. the sandy wash I have hiked hundreds of times was a flowing river. There would be no spring and the herds would not be limited in their range. This made me a little nervous.

Usually this is all bone dry, but there was water for miles.

About half way into where the first “spring” would be my stomach turned sour. Something was suddenly not sitting right and I needed a bathroom right away, being hours from the nearest toilet I headed up the closest wash. There was almost no chance of anyone being anywhere near me but I still needed my privacy. I found an appropriate spot, took off my backpack, set my binoculars next to it, and my pistol on top of it. I dug a shallow hole, dropped my trousers, made sure my toilet paper was within reach, and squatted over the hole. Right then I heard something behind me, looked over my shoulder to see two coyotes about 20 feet away and coming in at a slow creep. I panicked, grabbed my pistol, fell on my bare ass and fired a shot into the hillside. What a way to start the day.

Thirty minutes and a mile further up the canyon I had composed myself and was following a set of javelina tracks trough heavy cover. I glanced up at the trees ahead of me and saw a huge man with a muzzle loader rifle in an argument with his GPS device. We were only about 15 feet from each other in heavy cover and he had no idea I was there. I whistled and he about jumped out of his skin. We shook hands and introduced each other. I had seen his bootprints on the way in, he was wearing military issued desert boots. I told him I had seen his boots on the way in but couldn’t date them, I then asked who was wearing the Danner’s. He laughed and told me that those tracks belong to his father. He told me that they had been scouting the area for weeks and had trail cameras set up all over, secretly I hope that they captured my coyote incident. I told him that I had hunted that canyon the last two years and never seen another pair of boot prints. We talked about the areas of the canyon that we were going to focus on and went separate ways. I was headed well beyond the area he was hunting and didn’t think we would cross paths again. About 30 minutes later I heard a single gunshot from back the way I had come and I hope it was him filling his tag.

I spent the day looking for sign, found tons of fresh tracks but no feeding or bedding areas. I climbed a few big hillsides and glassed the canyons below me. But never saw anything but birds and rabbits.

The view from up high looking over the creek.

Javelina Hunt Day Four

Rain, and more rain. I headed back to the valley with L mountain. I figured that if the big guy didn’t get his pig I would leave the whole valley for him. On the way into my spot I saw a big dist could up ahead of me, as I rolled over the ridge there was a car, upside down, on the side of the road with four confused teen aged kids slowly waking away from the wreck. I stopped to talk to them and found out that they were all uninjured. One of them was just finishing a phone call for help. His friend’s father owned an off-road towing company, but was two hours out.

I asked “what happened” and one young man answered, ” I over corrected.” He said this with a sense of pride, like he literally meant it, he could not have been more correct in his correcting, he was over correct. At this point one of the two girls punched him and said “you were going 80!”. I laughed, this was perfect.

overcorrected…right.

It was about 35 degrees out there that morning. The two guys were dressed for it and the girls were not. I offered to drive them to town and they refused, but the girls did not hesitate to take the extra jackets in the back of my jeep.

The place that I parked for my hike in was only a few hundred yards from where these kids had crashed. It was raining too much for me to hike in so I kept an eye on them and waited. They were gone within 3 hours and I was still waiting. The weather report said it would clear at noon, then one, then two. Around three it finally cleared and I hiked in. I didn’t see any javelina, and there was no sign that they had visited any of the bedding areas around L mountain. I was starting to think that with all the rain they may have headed off. This was disappointing. But there was an incredible sunset that night and Four Peaks had received a heavy dose of snow. It made for a great hike out.

Another Arizona sunset

Four Peaks covered with a fresh load of snow, the clouds parted right at sunset.

Javelina Hunt Day Five

This was Tuesday. Tuesdays are family day for me. It would be a short hunting day as I had dinner plans with my wife and grandfather. I hiked in and glassed the hillside at sun up, nothing. I hiked all over L mountain for fresh sign, nothing. I hiked up the hill opposite of L mountain to get some elevation and had a snack. Midway through an apple and bottle of water I realized I was not alone. Two bighorn sheep had walked within 50 yards of me. I watched them, finished my apple and left them the core.

The view from lunch, unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the sheep.

I decided to hike in a grid up and down the valley west of L mountain, again nothing. Then I noticed a staghorn cactus that had been shredded by javelina. The lower branches were scattered in every direction. And tracks, fresh javelina tracks, then I noticed other staghorns with the same damage. I couldn’t smell the javelina but knew this was close. There was no way that these tracks were more than a few days old because they would have been washed out by the rain the day before. I started hiking in a circle from that point, then found a bed. This was the freshest javelina bed I had found, and next to it another, and another. There had to have been at least 25-30 javelina here within the last 12 hours. I was right on the inside of the “L” of my L mountain. I hiked up the mountain where I would have enough elevation to see into the flat parts of the valley. After an hour, I had seen nothing and although I had several hours of daylight, I had to make it to dinner and I hiked out.

 

Javelina Hunt Day Six

I left the house at 5 am. I had a plan. Park the Jeep, hike in and glass the east side of L mountain, hike around the top of it where the water was, then south down the other side to where the hugs javelina bed was.

I parked the jeep and headed down into the valley. I stopped to glass the mountain several times. I then though to myself that I was wasting my time and that I should shortcut through the saddle and head right for the big javelina bed from the night before. I actually said out load to myself, “stick with the plan”. This was shocking to me, but not the first time I had talked to myself in the last week. Being alone in the desert is something that is hard to explain. So I took my advice, and halfway down the long side of L mountain I looked up through my binoculars and saw the herd.

They were 3/4’s of a mile away and about 500 feet up, feeding in the sunlight. I took a few minutes to plan my attack. There was a big rocky outcropping that I could use for cover, I would hike up to it, then over it and would be able to take my shot from there. When I finally looked over that outcropping after the climb, the pigs had moved on. I watched them for a few minutes, made sure that there were none between me and the biggest pig and made another plan. There was a big palo verde about 100 yards from me and about 30 yards from them that I could use for cover and headed out again. When I got to the tree I slipped and almost fell, making a bunch of noise. But, the herd did not notice. I spent the time to evaluate the pigs again, and there was one that was still way bigger than the rest. I was about 35-45 yard downhill from them here, just close enough for my Ruger Blackhawk with iron sights.

I raised my pistol, pulled back the hammer, and did my best to stop shaking from the hike and adrenaline. I lined up the shot with the ribcage of the big pig and squeezed the trigger. There was the expected hammer fall and a loud bang, my ears immediately started to ring, I had let my ear protection behind. But the pigs did not move, not even the one I had shot at. I figured that I had shot over it and pulled the hammer back again, spinning a fresh cylinder under the hammer. When I squeezed the trigger this time I saw the bullet hit. The herd scattered over the top of the mountain and down the other side. Except for the my target and one other that came right down my side of the hill. They passed within 20 feet of me and the one I had shot stopped 30 yards away. I pulled the trigger again and the javelina dropped where it stood.

Two years of unfilled tags, hundreds of miles of hiking, as many hours of scouting, finally paid off. I was shocked to see that I had shot a female. I was really hoping for a boar this time and I had spent the time picking out a big one. But I wouldn’t say that I am disappointed. I took a few pictures then carried her off a ways before field dressing her. Even after being dressed out she weighed enough that I had to take a break on the way back to the jeep. Next time I may think twice about hiking so far for a hunt, for sure if I get drawn for elk.

View of my javelina from the top of “L mountain”

When I got home with the pig, I skinned it out for the taxidermist and to get the meat out. Pulling the skin from the meat really shows you exactly where the bullets hit. When I got to her left side I found three bullet holes. Each bullet hole less than 1/4 inch from the next. I had put three bullets into its heart and lungs. Three perfect shots within an inch of each other, I have no idea how she moved at all after the first shot, and part of me thinks she wouldn’t have moved if I had not fired again.

So now the freezer is totally full, time to start eating in a little more often. I still have half a lion, 4 squirrels, and a few pounds of bear and buffalo from a friend. I have a turkey hunt coming up in about a month, then this meat will have to last me through summer, or I get to go vegetarian again, like last year.

There was no one to take a picture of my with my javelina, I managed to catch this in the reflection of my Jeep’s rear window.

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Half day fox hunt

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.

The sun just starting to set through the storm clouds from high on the hillside on the last stand of the day.

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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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‘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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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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