Early starts are just a way of life if you do any kind of hunting. I’m sure of that. No matter what you do you have to wake up early. The nice thing is that when duck season ends, I’m not getting up early as often. This hunt was just like the rest of them, an early start. Kaela had to go to work that morning, so I just got up with her and while she got ready for work, I got my camo on and loaded up the truck. This was going to be another coyote hunt but one that I was determined to be successful with. I made sure everything was packed and ready to go.
I did have one big reason for this hunt. Remember how the last coyote hunt I got a speeding ticket? Well, I needed to go pay for it, so I decided I better make a hunt out of it. That was my first speeding ticket ever, so I really didn’t know what to expect or what to really do so I was planning on showing up at the courthouse and figure it out. The other reason I went down there is that I wanted to hunt the same area and do some scouting. There was a coyote in one canyon that I couldn’t get to show himself long enough to take a shot. I wanted to get some redemption and hopefully use the bounty to help pay for the ticket. The other thing is we didn’t get enough time out there for me to really get to know the area. Some area familiarization was in the to-do list.
After loading up in the truck and kissing Kaela goodbye, I hit the road and was filled with anticipation. It’s crazy how it still gets me all excited to go hunt. It never goes away. As I started getting close the sun was about to start coming up. It was cold and the weather wasn’t supposed to be bad until evening time. I knew right where I was going this time and I didn’t waste time. Yes, I followed the speed limit this time. I drove past the ranches and into the forestry dirt road and made my way to the canyon. Most of the snow had melted from two weeks prior so I expected things to work a little differently. It all looked the same, but I could tell this wasn’t going to work the same way as last time.
I parked my truck down the canyon a bit and quietly got my shotgun and my rifle out. I got my Camelbak on and made sure everything was good to go. This time my hike was different, I knew this canyon and I knew the specific spot I was going to hunt. This canyon had lots of signs of animal activity and I already had seen a coyote there, so I was expecting to see it again. I decided to hike along this ditch hoping that a coyote wouldn’t try and go up that and smell me out. It did provide enough cover as I made my way up the canyon. I found a spot by some rocks that looked like some decent cover. I made my way up and it gave me a great view all the way up the canyon. I figured this might give me an advantage if the coyote is up the canyon since I’ll have given my self away from the mouth of this canyon in. I found a spot for my Foxpro and for my Mojo Critter. This hill I was on was steep so I had to make it so the Mojo Critter would stay up. I walked up to the rocks I was going to sit by and set my rifle and shotgun down while I got situated. In setting my rifle down, I wasn’t paying attention and set my rifle down on a cactus. These small cacti are all over here in Utah, I wasn’t super used to them and this time it created a bit of work for me. I sat down and found that cactus spines were all stuck to the butt of my rifle. The next few minutes was finding ways to get the spines off my rifle so that I could shoulder it without poking myself.
The set started with my usual calls. Long coyote howls and since it’s breeding season, some female coyote calls, that way hopefully a male coyote would come in. After some of that, I decided to give it a rest and change to some other animal noises. Knowing that there were young calves at the ranches I passed driving in, I decided to use some calf distress calls. I figure that was a noise they might respond to. A big meal that was naturally in the landscape. This seemed to work. As I was glassing looking for movement, I saw something out of the corner of my eye way up the canyon. I looked closer with my binoculars and I couldn’t really tell what I was seeing since there were some rocks around it and it was way far. My binoculars aren’t the best and my scope has better glass and can see better further so I switched to using the scope on my rifle. Once I pulled my scope up, I saw a coyote, sitting in the middle of this dirt path, looking straight at me. I immediately thought I must get him closer. The calf distress and the coyote howls must have been enough to pique his interest. I was camouflaged and I knew my camouflage was hiding me fine. King’s camo has some great patterns and where I was sitting, I was blending in. I think what was confusing that coyote was the swirling winds in this spot I was sitting. The winds were changing since the sun rose and the air temperature was driving winds down the canyon and then the storm coming in would send a gust up the canyon. In other words, this coyote was on to me.
I watched him some more, he would stay around the same spot. At one point I saw him turn to head up the canyon, but I changed the call and he stopped and turned around again. I knew that I had a decision to make. My rifle is set up to reach out to 1,000 yards. I’ve played with it and shot 1,000 yards. The ammo I shoot is made to go a long way out and still pack a punch. I decided it was time to take a shot before the coyote decided to move on. I still don’t have a range finder, so I had to guesstimate the distance. I figured he was sitting at about 800 yards. I could see him good in my scope and had a good shot. I put the right hash marks on him, and I assumed since he was up the canyon that we were close to the same altitude, so I didn’t compensate for him being lower than me. I had been watching him so staying calm wasn’t hard. I lined up just for his vitals and focused on my trigger pull. He wasn’t moving so this was the time. The hammer hit the bullet and I watched the dirt about a foot below him blow up. As soon as that dirt moved, this coyote took off up the canyon. I was mad I missed, but I wasn’t surprised. The really nice thing is the Decibullz earplugs I was wearing. They worked like a charm. They did just what I needed them to do. A full review on them is coming later this month after Kaela and I put more time on them.
Knowing I missed my only opportunity in that canyon, I picked up and made my way back to the truck. I had signal sporadically, so I checked in with Kaela and did some scouting on OnXmaps. That app just keeps amazing me. The one thing that sucks is that forestry roads don’t always get updated. That’s not the app’s fault at all, the forestry service maps even have roads marked that they have closed or just don’t exist anymore. I picked a spot to go to that looked like it had some more vegetation but when I got there, the road was behind a private fence. As I spent more time in the area, I noticed that it had been a wildfire at one point. I had that filter turned off on my OnXmaps app, so it wasn’t immediately obvious to me until I spent more time in the landscape. Once I turned that feature on, I saw that the fire was less than 10 years ago and that my hopes for good vegetation and cover were pretty much shrinking. I looked again at my map and found a different spot that looked like it held some vegetation that I should check out.
I made my way over and found this big bowl with what appeared to be a cave in it. I decided this place was worth some time. I hid the truck and started hiking into it. There was a ditch there too and it was full of animal tracks so I knew this might pay off. I set up against some rocks and this time set my Mojo Critter in the open about 50 yards away from me. As I made my way up to my stand, I saw something move in the trees nearby. It looked like a coyote out of the corner of my eye, but I never saw it again. I went and sat down and started my calling sequence. The one thing I kept staring at was this cave across the way from me. To me, something would come out of there and it would be cool to go check it out. The wind was picking up and there were lots of crows and magpies that kept coming in and flying around. Eventually, the wind really got cold and even the birds disappeared. I decided that set was done and with the weather turning, I didn’t want to get caught in a storm hiking back to my truck.
I went back to the truck and unloaded everything. I decided I needed to do some exploring. I made my way up that bowl on a dirt road for a bit before I pulled over. I wanted to see what that cave was like and if there was anything going in and out of it. As I got closer, I could hear some water running. My map didn’t show a spring or anything, but I could clearly hear water running. I eventually noticed that the cave I was looking at was just a waterfall. It was cool to hike up and see all sorts of animal tracks going up to this little stream that was created. I took some pictures of it and realized that this waterfall is probably seasonal. There was snow above it on the hill and it was melting since it’s been warming up. I felt incredibly lucky that I was there when this little waterfall was happening. I instantly wished that Kaela had been able to come with me and decided I had to bring her back soon before the waterfall went away. I made sure to mark the spot on the OnXmaps app so that I could come back to it.
The weather was starting to change still so I decided I better go do some exploring and go eat some lunch. There was a different spot I wanted to do some scouting on. There was some BLM land nearby and it hadn’t been burned any time soon. I always saw deer on that side of the highway, too, so it had to be checked out. I got to the first dirt road and pulled off the highway. The road looked dry but not for long. As I started to drive in, I found my self in a mud hole. It was some thick slippery mud. I put my truck on 4×4 and kept the wheels moving. There was no stopping at this point. I crested this hill and found more mud. I quickly decided to turn around and put the hammer down so I could make it through to the more set mud. I survived that mud hole and made it back to the highway. A little further down the road, I decided to pull off the highway again and give this BLM land another shot. This mud was more set, so I was able to go up to a ridge. This time I got out of the truck and grabbed my rifle in case I happened on a coyote by accident. As I walked around this hill, I found another great spot to put some time on. I sat there and just looked over all the brush and the hills in the distance with great mountains as a backdrop. Nature will never cease to amaze me. There was even a huge jackrabbit that decided to show himself. It hopped around the bushes and around me like I wasn’t even there. To me, that was a good omen for a future hunt.
This is why we hunt. You don’t always win but if you look at it the right way, there is no losing. We always try and make the best of it and remember the lessons we learn. To me, just being outdoors and going off the beaten path is where the magic of it all is. Most jackrabbits wouldn’t just hop around and stand next to someone if they’ve been shot at a few times. The things you see and experience hunting can only be done while hunting. Hiking doesn’t even touch the connection a hunter has with his surroundings. This is why we keep going out there and why being out there is one of my favorite things. Next time, we’ll get a coyote.
- Having the right equipment is important
- Don’t get winded
- Make sure you control your smells. There are products that help with that.
- Take time to appreciate your surroundings and don’t get too caught up on the hunt
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