Coyote Yipps

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I watched coyotes for 2-1/2 hours in the rain today. For over half that time the downpour was intense. The coyotes did not leave or seek cover — they remained out in the rain, lying down most of the time! The rest of the time was spent howling due to a dog, hunting, and fidgeting.

It had been raining steadily when I first heard distressed coyote howling in the early morning. I ran to the scene of the noise where my suspicions were confirmed: a dog had interfered and a coyote was complaining loudly. The owner finally leashed her dog, and they moved out of the picture. The coyote walked briskly to a rock that formed a bluff, where it continued its distressed howling. After each spurt of howling, the coyote stopped to look around. This continued for about three minutes. Meanwhile, in the distance, a second coyote appeared. This one did not seem concerned about the howling — it looked as if it had just ambled into the picture — it stayed in the distance.

The howling ended and this coyote walked briskly over to where the second one had appeared. They both lay down, about 50 feet apart. That is where they remained for an hour and a half in the pouring rain — it was really pouring hard during this time frame! These are some of the images I took — you can’t really see the rain, possibly because I increased the contrast to make them clearer.

After an hour and a half, the first coyote got up, stretched and wandered off to begin hunting. The rain had let up a little bit. The second coyote watched. The minute the first coyote stopped to explore a gopher hole, the other coyote hurried over to check it out. Nothing was there, but they both continued hunting in the field for about an hour, until the third dog and walker went by. That is when they headed for cover in the bushes — they didn’t emerge again. I wondered if they had hung out in the rain specifically waiting to hunt? If so, it did not pay off. I did not see them catch a single rodent. When any dogs and their owners went by — there were few because it was still raining — both coyotes would stop their activity to sit and watch. Not until the walkers were out of sight did they resume hunting.

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The images show one of the coyotes during the pouring rain. I was absolutely sure that the rain would drive them to seek cover, but it did not. The first coyote lay down higher up on the hill and remained there with its head down, resting and sleeping the whole time. But the second one — the one depicted here — appeared fidgety, like a child anxious for activity to begin. At regular intervals he looked over at the first coyote, as if waiting for that one to initiate some activity. This second one also put its head down, resting and sleeping, but not the whole time. In addition, he reacted to the rain and the situation: licked the water on his paws, looked around a lot, raised and lowered his head often, squinted frequently to avoid getting rain in his eyes, watched the rain overhead, played with a found item for several minutes, shook the water out of his coat several times, and stretched a number of times.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>