Coyote School is what I call the life lessons learned while hunting one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet, Canis latrans, commonly known as the coyote, brush wolf, prairie wolf, or American jackal. Of course, there is a lot to learn about hunting these wily canines, but I'm not referring to the hunting skills involved. Coyote School refers to the education and insight about life that hunting provides. It's easy to miss these lessons, as they require solitude and quiet. Fortunately, sitting and waiting for a coyote to respond to a call provides plenty of time for self-reflection.
This year, Coyote School was in session for me as soon as the season started. That happened because it coincided with the death of my best friend and long-time hunting partner due to cancer. From the initial diagnosis until his funeral was six months, and the loss left a huge hole in my life. Dealing with the death led me to review old photos of our previous hunts. When looking at the pictures, I noted we often took young people or first-time hunters along on our excursions. It reminded me of a friend's 17-year-old son, Wes, who I'd been told was dying to hunt but had no one to take him out or teach him. That idea turned into a conversation with young Wes and his parents, and Coyote School was in session.
We started with a day at the range, shooting various firearms but focusing on the guns and techniques most commonly used when hunting coyotes. Wes was eager, thoughtful, attentive, and willing to follow instructions. Although most of his previous experience was with air rifles, Wes proved to be an excellent shot with a "real" rifle and took some nice targets home with him when the day was over.
Several weeks later, our first hunting trip took us to a cattle ranch that needed some help with coyote control. Wes is a lefty, so I started him out with a semi-auto, thinking it would be easier for him to make follow-up shots if he missed. I positioned us in anticipation of calling a coyote out of a patch of heavy brush where I expected they were spending their daylight hours. Apparently, at least one coyote in there had read the script and, shortly after I started calling, walked out into the perfect spot for a shot. Wes dropped him with a single round, and he had his first coyote.
Wes with his first coyote.
We took three more during the course of the day. I learned Wes doesn't miss, and we called it a day after our last kill. It was apparent that Wes was capable of precision shooting, so I upgraded him to a chassis-equipped rifle for our next trip afield. I tweaked the stock length and adjustable comb height for him, something easily done on the MDT HNT26 Chassis System, and we hit the trail well before sunrise. The plan this time was to ambush coyotes coming out of a cattle feeding area where they'd spent all night scrounging and harassing the cows.
Arriving well before legal shooting light, we settled into a snowbank and waited. As the sky lightened, we could see coyotes start to drift out of the area, about 500 yards away, and head for their daytime hangouts. As expected, a pair of them turned in our direction, and I encouraged their progress with some mouse squeaks. One of the yotes turned off, but the other kept coming, and when I told Wes to take him, all it took again was a single shot. Wes took one more coming out of the pasture, then bagged another at a second location before noon when we had to quit for the day. Wes is learning quickly, and I'll soon be able to give him more freedom and not hover over him quite as much.
A successful morning at Coyote School.
The places where we hunt hold a lot of memories of my absent friend, but I know he'd be pleased to see a new hunter stepping in to help thin out the coyotes and keep me company doing it.
Everybody who knows us thinks Wes is the student and I'm the teacher, but that's only partially true. Having Wes around has helped fill the hole left by the death of my long-time hunting partner and given this old guy, who may have stayed home on the couch, some extra motivation to get out. The enthusiasm of youth is a great thing to have around, as it can be contagious. Sometimes there are two students in Coyote School. Whenever that happens, there are two teachers as well.
HUNTING RESOURCES FROM MDT
- Tips For A Successful Antelope Hunt
- Analysis: Long Range Hunting
- MDT Field Report - Why The Triple Pull CKYE-POD is a Guides Best Friend
- Tips for Cold Weather Shooting
- Hunting In Inclement Weather
- How To Optimize Your Rifle For Positional Shooting
- The Modern Hunting Vest
- Hunting With The MDT XRS Chassis System
- Hunting Stocks Versus PRS-Style Competition Stocks
- Predator Hunting with a Chassis Rifle
- Maximize Performance with Mental Imagery
- Confidence Kills
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Al Voth calls himself a "student of the gun." Retired from a 35-year career in law enforcement, including nine years on an Emergency Response Team, he now works as an editor, freelance writer, and photographer, in addition to keeping active as a consultant in the field he most recently left behind—forensic firearm examination. He is a court-qualified expert in that forensic discipline, having worked in that capacity in three countries. When he's not working these days, you'll likely find him hunting varmints and predators (the 4-legged variety).