Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Spring has come to the Marble Mountains. I took the dogs along and drove up to a trailhead today to check things out. Dogwood is in bloom now, and Lupine is everywhere along the side of the road. The dirt road had been graded, so I won’t have to move any rocks to get a horse trailer up there. I saw the first bear track I have seen this year in the dust of the road.

There were a couple of cars in the parking lot, back packers or day hikers. There was a single set of horse tracks on the trail. For several years, not so long ago, it was a better than even bet that I would be the first person up there on a horse each spring, and possibly the first person on foot. Seems like more people are beating me to it lately.

I turned the dogs loose and walked up the trail to the first creek crossing. I didn’t feel like wading it, and in my best days I was never much good at walking logs, so that is as far as we went. The water is still to high for fishing, and the season opens on Memorial Day weekend, but it is a fraction of what it should be at this time of the year. The snow pack in the high country is way below normal, and what is up there is going fast.

Next time I go up there I’ll take the mare along and see what the trail looks like. There are a couple of other trailheads I want to check out too before I pull the trailer up the mountain.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Photo coyote hunt.

Yesterday my coyote calling friend John and I had a photo hunt planed on some private property where he has permission to hunt. This was to be a hunt for coyotes, and John has the coyote dog, so the Airedales stayed home. The rancher who owns the property isn’t particularly interested in pictures of coyotes. He likes to see dead ones, but we left the guns at home too. John took a still camera and I packed a video camcorder.

The first stand of the morning produced nothing but some coyote howls way off in the distance. John said he saw a coyote way over on a ridge when he walked out to put his electronic caller on a rock several yards in front of us. A few minutes into the stand I saw something moving way down below us, but I couldn’t make out what it was. The last I saw of it, it was moving away, not toward us. This is wide open country, unlike the timber and brush country that I am used to, and a guy can see way out there!

A short drive to another spot, and a hike up a steep ridge, and we set up on the back side of a rocky knoll. John has hunted this country for years, and he knows where the hot spots are.

Video #1: Click here.

John saw the coyote coming first from way up on the mountain. I didn’t see it until it topped a barren hill in front of us. It came about half way down the hill, then stopped to look the situation over. It didn’t look like the coyote was going to come any closer, so John sent Jiff the tolling dog out. The coyote didn’t like that at all, and it ran back up the hill for a little way. Jiff came back, but the coyote didn’t come with her. It looked things over for a bit, then started circling to pick up our wind, and there was a pretty good breeze blowing.

In the meantime John had spotted another coyote coming up the hill along a fence line. Coyote number 1 ran across and then down the hillside, circling to my left all the time, and I ran out of room to maneuver the camera. The 2 coyotes met, but by then they were out of range of my lens. They soon went out of sight behind a ridge, and the show was over. The coyote vocalizations you hear on the video are coming from John’s caller in a effort to stop the coyotes and possibly bring them back.

Video #2: Click here.

A drive to another spot, and a short walk to a calling stand. We backed up against some low brush on the edge of a meadow. A few minutes into the stand and I saw a coyote coming through a wide spot in the brush across the meadow. It came about half way down the hill, then just as suddenly it turned around and went right back the way it had come; out of sight. I turned my attention back to the area in front of the caller, and there stood a coyote right out in the open at the edge of the meadow! I hadn’t seen it coming, and don’t know how it got there, and neither did John. He had been looking in another direction at the time.

The coyote looked things over, then turned and headed back into the brush. John sent Jiff out, and she brought the coyote back into the open. On her way back Jiff stopped to pee, and you can see the coyote stop in the same place and lift a leg where Jiff had urinated. That is as far as the coyote was about to come. It stood there for so long that I actually turned the camcorder off for awhile. There was zero action! You can see the coyote occasionally looking back into the brush, an indication that the other coyote might be there, but out of our sight. Some magpies were attracted by the coyote out in the open, and you can see them flying above it and lighting in the brush. Finally the coyote just sort of wandered away, still accompanied by the magpies.