Recently I told about a lone coyote coming through the yard in the middle of a hot day. It stopped at the lake for a drink, then went on about its business.
Yesterday I realized the truth. Where there’s one coyote, there’s more.
At first, I thought the open door was creaking in the breeze. Then I thought a stray (or farm) cat was mewling in the yard. Then, Daisy Dewdrop jumped up from her nap and pitched a fit. The source of the noise was a coyote pup, one of two sitting casually in the shade at the back corner of the lake, looking at… something….
Ah, an adult coyote. But, where I stood my full view was blocked, and actually there were two adults as well.
I realize, as someone who lives on a farm with cats and dogs and newborn colts — this is bad.Â Four coyotes, not more than 200 yards from the house.
I didn’t think they’d stay long, so I grabbed the camera, the binoculars and my sandals, and out the door I went.
Actually, they stayed quite a while. One adult would run into the woods, and the two pups and the remaining adult would lay low in the grass. Next thing you know, a deer would exit the woods near where the coyote entered – out in front of the three laying in wait. They didn’t get any deer yesterday, but not for lack of trying.
Had they jumped a fawn instead of adult deer? I think the results would have been different.
Here’s the best picture I got without the big lens on the camera. (I think, it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to include a photo in a blog entry. I’ve made it a large image, so you can see…)
They were not concerned about me. Although I didn’t get close enough to get a decent picture, I did get into the edge of their space. They were not scared of me. The pups looked at me with some concern – “Hey. There’s a human.” – but the adults gave the look like “Yeah, humans. Such varmints. I wish they’d just stay in their caves.”
When I got close enough to make them uncomfortable, I realized, I had the wrong equipment for such socializing. I had a camera and binoculars, but no gun, and was walking right up on two adult wild animals with young.
Finally, they gave me their full attention – still without fear. “Eewww. The human’s getting closer. Come on, we’ll have to find somewhere else to train.”
Still, they went just past the edge of the woods, to a rock and boulder formation still within sight. All four lined up along the edge of the boulder, looking at me, watching me, as if to see if I was going to leave so they could go right back to what they were doing.
Eventually, they must have decided I wasn’t leaving, and they casually, one after the other, went deeper into the woods and out of site.
Although it felt like an episode on National Geographic, I also now feel as though they’re out there, watching.
In the sixteen years I’ve lived in Central West Virginia, until this year, I had never seen a coyote. I’ve seen a bear – twice. I’ve seen foxes, bobcats, countless deer.
But this year, while sitting lazy on the back porch watching the lake, as I was yesterday, I watched a coyote emerge from the edge of the woods, in the middle of the day, to trot down to the water for a drink.
Yesterday was the second time. Since yesterday’s coyote followed the same path as the first (and the same path as the deer usually take), I assume it’s the same canine.
I ran in the house and reached for the camera — Frank reached for the gun. I gave him a look.
“See your dog?” He asked, tipping his head towards Daisy Dewdrop, napping on the chaise lounge. “Yes,” I replied.
“To that coyote, she’s meat.”
I thought about my little Daisy as meat, and of our older dog Jazz trying to fend off a pack.
While I was thinking, Frank went on. “And the new colt in the lower field?” I nodded. “Meat,” he said.
I relented, but was happy to see the coyote slip over the bank and out of our immediate sight before Frank fired.
Frank followed him across the lower field – past the horses – and into the woods on the other side of the farm. Again – the deer path.
We’ve hear coyotes in the woods a few times this summer — far off in the right hand holler. Daisy freaks out and barks her head off. Jazz, too old and hard of hearing to hear the coyate’s cries, only knows something is up because of Daisy’s ruckus.
I have wondered, frequently, how often a bear has lumbered across the fields at night unknown, with us on the porch, staring into the darkness. You know how a dog will be laying beside you on the porch, then out of the blue, will lift his head and sniff the air? Well, when Jazz does that, and lays his head back down, I think it’s a skunk or opossom. When he does that and walks to the end of the porch and sits? I think it’s a bear.
The coyote seemed healthy, and casual. He stoppedÂ in the middle of the field to look around the houses by the road just as sweet as you please, and then, perhaps hearing Frank come near, pranced across the field and disappeared into the woods. So – matter-of-fact. So quiet.
I couldn’t sleep last night. I laid still, flat on my back, and realized I was listening. Listening to see if the coyotes were calling to each other, sharing the news of the bounties they scouted out during the day. Telling of fresh water, and Beagle meat, and Elkhound meat, and horse meat down below.
But the woods only echoed the calls of a thousand crickets, and of the occasional toad or night bird.
But, who knew what was crossing the field?
Lord, it’s so dry. When the hunters of the woods come to our yard to get a drink, we need rain.