First Dog Down
My 15 year old nephew Luc has become my inseparable hunting partner and it’s been a lot of fun just watching him learn by watching me and taking him out every weekend I can. He asked for some input on building his AR-15, but other than basic guidance, he hand built his own coyote hunting rig. He then moved on to watching me reload ammunition, and after several times of watching and asking, he moved into making his own ammunition and doing some load development to turn his gun into an extremely accurate ½ MOA coyote killing machine. To top it all off, he did finish off the setup with a gun mounted predator light. Game time!
It has been a learning curve for me hunting summer dogs because they don’t quite react the same as they do in the dead of winter when everything is white and frozen, so it comes with its own challenges for both me and him…but we finally got a good handle on it. On this particular July evening we were hunting the family farm of a friend of mine. A cow pasture that goes as far as you can see, with elevation changes throughout it ranging up to 100’ or better. We stepped out into the field, got our gear and call setup ready and like so many times before, I used the ol’ trusty Coyote Locator. The silence of this summer evening was short lived as an eruption in front, left, and right and even behind us of howls and yips filled the night air. My go to, thus far this summer has been to immediately roll that response right into me answering back with a Submissive Female Coyote call. With our predator hunting lights scanning the horizon it wasn’t 2 minutes into the stand that I saw eyes come at a dead run across the field right to us and showing no signs of slowing down. 800, 700…500…300…he stopped. He just stood there in the red beam from our predator lights, looking at the call trying to make sense of what he was hearing and trying to figure out what to do next. That confusion I am guessing lead to uneasiness as he spent the next 45 minutes going back and forth across the ridge in front of us. Never coming closer and never going any further away…I used every call that I knew of at my disposal to try to coax him that last 100 or so yards to give my nephew Luc his shot. Not that 300 wasn’t doable, but he had to this point never shot a coyote, never shot at night using a specialized coyote light…so inevitably he’d never shot at a live animal of any sort at night using a predator light.
So, 45 minutes later, this curious coyote decided he was going to close the distance a little. The wary dog slipped into the tree line in front of us, so I said, “Don’t move and be ready, I’m going to stand up and see if it’s trying to work the fence row to our right.” As I stood up, the beam from my predator light at eye level trying to catch any reflection, I see a hunkered down set of eyes not 60 yards away from us on the backside of a tiny knoll. He spooked and slowly turned, heading back down the tree line. “Get ready! He is going to come back in the field” I hurriedly whispered! A second or two later, he emerged back out there in the field about 150 yards away. A few lip squeaks from me as soon as he emerged from the tree line was all it took for him to put on the brakes. “Take him Luc” and right on cue, the crack of his .223 echoed across the open field. The coyote started into its death spin, circling 3 or 4 times and then bolting back towards the woods…for about 4 steps. “Did I hit him?” he asked. I explained that generally they will spin like that when they are hit. It’s more of a reaction to try and bite whatever is attacking them. The fact that he made no noise whatsoever when he was doing it, I said you most likely had a double lung hit. Well, on one of a few occasions, I got to toot my own horn because that dog was lying about 15 feet from where he took the shot…and what a shot it was. His first 150 yard shot at night with his gun mounted coyote light was rewarded with a double lung and heart shot and his first coyote he had ever killed.
To me, this is what coyote hunting is all about. It’s an obsession for me and it’s become one for him as well. That’s a memory that he and I will get to share for the rest of our lives, and it’s something that no person can take from us. We spent the remainder of the evening talking about everything that coyote did during the stand and dissecting it into a learning experience for us both. Why he didn’t commit, why he stopped at 300, why this and that. It was truly one of the most rewarding hunts I’ve ever gotten to be a part of, largely because I did nothing for him but provide guidance and let him do it all. I didn’t build the gun, I didn’t make the ammunition and I didn’t take the shot. For me, that was the first time I’ve taken a younger person for their first ever coyote, and it was a feeling I wish everyone who enjoys the outdoors seeks out, because it’s truly a remarkable feeling. I honestly don’t know who was more excited about that coyote at the end of the evening, him or I, but I now know it’s something we’ll talk about for years to come and hopefully be the first of many memories we’ll get to make.
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