Illini West Whitetails

Varmint Control

 

 

On Friday evening (July 9, 2010), Pat was cooking rib-eyes at the Wood Inn, so Mom and I decided to go to town for a nice steak supper.  On the way home (approximately 8:15 pm), Mom and I noticed a big coyote sneaking around the weed-choked garden.  I continued driving slowly past the garden, pulled the truck around the circle drive and quickly hopped-out to look for a weapon.  I found some old 12-gauge Foster slugs and an 870 with a deer barrel, but I still wanted something with a bit more accuracy.  I went downstairs to Pat’s room and was happy to find Louis’ Savage 308 caliber rifle.  The gun has a fixed 4 power scope, which is dialed-in at 200 yards.  Cameron and I had used Louis’ rifle before during our successful pronghorn hunt in Wyoming; and so I had the upmost confidence in this firearm’s accuracy.   I slapped the four-round clip in her and hustled outside.  Pat’s dog Mickey knew that something was going on, and so by the time I got outside, Mickey was headed off in the direction of the former chicken house to provide support on my north flank.  I went south and west, where I hunkered along the road ditch, peering over to the garden. 

 

I couldn’t believe that Wiley was still there, and now to my advantage, he was on east side of the garden.   I stopped, stood up straight and aimed, but the coyote had notice my movement.  The shifty coyote trotted off toward the woods.  Luckily, he stopped and I was able to make out some of his brown fur through the canopy.     Wiley was standing behind the trees growing up near the beginning of the ditch, probably about a hundred yards out.  I put the cross-hairs on the fur mass and slowly squeezed the trigger………….BOOM.   It was hard to run fast with my flip-flops, but I cycled another round, and quick-as-I-could made my way up the road and closer to the garden.  Wiley was circling around on himself, but then started running into the woods.  I was about seventy yards out when I stopped running to fire another round at the fleeing varmint as he entered the bush. 

 

I caught my breath and walked over to the scene.  There was a good spattering of blood about the size of a basketball, and two small pieces of entrails.  In addition, there were some drops of blood and another smaller spattering where Wiley had entered the thick understory.  Although daylight was fading, I made a decision to pursue Wiley and get Mickey involved in some blood-sport. 

So back at the house, I put-on my jeans and boots, and grabbed a headlamp.  I explained the situation to Mom; and she gave me a piece of meat from the fridge to reward Mickey.   As Mickey and I headed back to the scene; I shouldered Louis’ trusty 308, knowing full well the tumultuous nature of an injured canine.   Mickey was immediately on alert when I arrived at the scene.  I bit confused, Mickey tracked back to the west side of the garden where we had first seen Wiley.  I called and rewarded Mickey with some pork when he caught up with me at the edge of the bush.  Preoccupied, Mickey almost ignored my offering, jumping ahead of me on the trailhead of the wounded beast. 

 

The chase was on, and what a chase.  I dubbed the stealthy coyote Wiley because of how he had managed to confuse both Mickey and myself with his whereabouts.  I could tell he had backtracked, because there was some blood in the ditch, but there was also locations where he been bleeding on each side of the ditch.  Soon, there was no blood at all, but because he was undoubtedly gut shot, I continued on.  Mickey and I combed through the thick areas in and around the ditch.  Suddenly, a crashing noise alerted Mickey and I that Wiley was still out there.  When we made it over to the crash site, I did find a little blood, and we pushed-on with renewed vigor.  Mickey was covering a lot ground on either side of the deepening ditch, while I stayed in the bottom of the ditch going over log jams and pushing through root wads.  I took extra care with the scoped rifle as I wrestled my way through brambles and thick crap.  By now, the beer that I drank with my supper had transformed to copious amounts of sweat clinging to my shirt and waistline. 

 

Then there was another crash as Wiley jumped up; and I knew we were getting closer.  I was amazed at how Mickey completely jumped the ditch to quickly get to the other side.  Mickey was starting to bark as he closed the gap.  We were definitely wearing the coyote down.  When Mickey stopped barking, I figured that Wiley had jumped back into the ditch somewhere close to where the trail bridge had collapsed.  I used an exposed root to carefully climbed back down into the deep ditch.  Immediately, I noticed blood dissolving in the stream.  As I moved forward, Mickey stood on the secondary wood bridge and began barking frantically.  I knew Wiley was close, but I needed Mickey to get down into the ditch with me.  I really didn’t want to be caught face to face with the desperate beast.  I helped Mickey down the steep, eight-foot bank and into the ditch. 

 

Soon Mickey was in fixed location barking steady, so I readied the rifle and cautiously moved forward.  Mickey’s posture was tense; he too was locked and ready.  But I couldn’t see the coyote because there was a bend in the ditch just beyond Mickey.  As I carefully rounded the bend, Mickey held tight.   When I got around, the scene was surreal.  There was both Mickey and the coyote locked in a 90-degree, head-to-head standoff.  My headlamp vividly illuminated both pairs of eyes.  But Wiley’s eyes burned like the devil; and his ears were cocked forward in defiance as he lie crouched in the undercut of the ditch. 

I was in a bit of a predicament.  Shooting was going to be chancy with Mickey being so close……..only about two feet away from Wiley.  Quickly, I put the cross-hairs between the devilish eyes and adjusted my headlamps to blind Wiley and maximize the light through the scope.  Then I talked Mickey into moving around me, to which obliged.  Mickey must have known what I wanted, as he quickly went around me and provided a block to keep Wiley pinned against the bank.  When Mickey barked out his safe location, I pulled the trigger. 

 

Wiley was a male, but I not sure his age.  He had a very sharp, full set of teeth and was heavier than my 50 pounds scale could weigh.  The first round hit Wiley in front of the hips, with the 150 grain bullet entering the size of a dime and exiting the size of a softball.  On Sunday, I mowed off the garden with the brush hog, and noticed 4 baby rabbits living in the foxtail grass.  I would bet that Wiley was dining on the baby rabbits.