Saturday, April 22, 2017
After checking cows and calves this morning it was time to check the bulls, which are housed in a pasture several miles south of where the cows and calves are presently domiciled.
I decided to check the bulls on foot. Couple of reasons for that. I wanted to scout grass in the pasture, and I always do a better job of it on foot. And of course a nice little prairie stroll would fit neatly into my exercise routine.
It was just a beautiful morning. Yesterday's rainy weather system was passing and the dreary gray overcast was breaking into blue skies and cottony-white puffball clouds. There was a bit of a south-southwest breeze, and while it wasn't much of a breeze it combined with the 40 degree air temperature to make it just a bit chilly. I wore a sweatshirt.
As usual on these hikes I carried a 25-pound pack along with my trusty rifle. Mostly for the weight and complexity, but also because reasons.
After yesterday's rain the milk vetch decided to boom into bloom.
The winter wheat was lush and emerald green. In only a few weeks it will head out and flower, then begin making grain. In about 75 days it'll be harvested.
As I caught a good hiking rhythm I began to appreciate how beautiful the morning was.
The bulls were in fine shape.
Birds and ants were busy as well.
After I checked the bulls I continued my hike. At about the four-mile mark I noticed some activity up ahead. Something was slinking up out of a gully and moving into the tree line about 300 yards to the south of me.
It was a pair of coyotes.
There's been quite a bit more coyote activity this spring than there's been for several years. I understand why. The last several years of above-average rainfall have produced a lot of green stuff, which prompted an increase in hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, voles, and other prey animals. Which prompted an increase in predator numbers. It's nature. That's how she rolls.
The coyotes have been pressing the cows and calves a bit more than I like this spring. They haven't predated any calves, and I don't expect them to. That doesn't mean they don't go through the stalking/hunting process, nor does it mean that they won't take a calf if they get an opportunity.
My response is to help the coyotes decide to look for better/less dangerous hunting grounds. I do this by shooting coyotes when the appropriate opportunity arises. Which it did this morning.
Now I'm not a spray and pray guy. I don't shoot to frighten, and every round I send downrange I own. When I decide to kill a coyote I have a responsibility to kill it as cleanly as possible.
This morning I had the breeze in my favor, blowing from the coyotes to me. I also had the sun in my favor, casting a lot of tree shadows about and making it hard for the coyotes to see me clearly. They knew I was there, but they didn't know what I was. They cautiously approached to about 225 yards and paused. One turned her profile to me and squatted down on her haunches, nose up and testing the breeze.
I eased over to a fence post, switched the optic on, and flipped up the magnifier. I peered through the optic, and keeping in mind where 55 grain pointed soft point bullets shoot compared to M-855, placed the point of the chevron about two inches above and just behind the coyote's shoulder. I took my time and squeezed off a well-placed shot.
At the moment I fired, however, the coyote bolted. My shot took her through the hips, and she dropped immediately. I hoped that the shock of the hit would be enough to kill her outright, but it wasn't. She flopped about a bit and then dragged herself off into a plowed field.
I followed her into the field and finished the job with a close range heart shot from my .40 S&W. I was disappointed that I didn't get an instant kill. Even though I'd done everything to the best of my ability and made a perfect shot, I'd failed in my responsibility to cleanly kill. That's the way it goes sometimes. You do the best you can.
I feel neither good nor bad about killing the coyote. Those kind of feelings really don't come into play. I'm part of nature, the coyote is part of nature, and today was just another of nature's give-and-take episodes.