Things have been real busy around the ranch and last weekend I finally got an opportunity to get out and call some coyotes. On Friday afternoon I packed the hunt rig with my gear, food and guns and picked up my buddy Ken. We forged our way through the usual crappy California traffic and headed out to some desert country to catch up with ol' Wiley Coyote.
We scouted some of our favorite calling areas in one zone and found no sign whatsoever. No tracks, no scat, no nothing. We saw no rats, mice or jack rabbits either. WTF? I guess the dry weather we have been having for the last several years has taken its toll on the desert dwelling animals.
I decided to break out my call and give one area a shot, just for the hell of it. I was using our RedHunterLLC Backstabber call (one of my favorites) and after calling for only about 30-seconds, out of the cover came 4 dogs. Ken's trigger finger was twitching and I yelled WAIT! They were not coyotes but just some wild dogs. Three took off and I used the coaxer on the back end of the Backstabber to bring him right up to us. He was a cute little pup about 2-months old. He looked like a cross between a Lab and a Pitbull. Big paws and big jaws but he was a bit on the friendly side. He was skinny as a rail and real hungry.
I reached into the cook box of the rig and pulled out a sleeve of Ritz crackers. He was loving them but it seemed cruel to feed crackers to a dog in the desert. I reached back into the cook box (the dog's eyes were wild with anticipation) and pulled out a can of Spam. By this time, he was drooling with both front paws on my rig's tailgate. I chopped up the Spam into small pieces and fed him slowly. He wolfed the Spam down like there was no tomorrow. God knows when he ate last. I then took the Spam can and filled it with fresh water. He lapped up two cans and sat down and gave me that, "Is there more?" look. I tried to pet him but he was not into the affection thing. I don't believe he has had much human contact. He was pretty darn good though and I felt bad leaving him in the desert to his own devices. Ken and I joked that when he got back to his pack, the others would smell Spam on his breath and ask, "Hey! Where did you get the Spam?"
Anyway, sundow soon came and we began night hunting. The Backstabber did a great job and I called in fox after fox...unfortunately, they were Kit Fox and we can't hunt them here in Kaliforniastan. No coyotes came to the call. I tried some howls but could not get any to howl back. Truth is, they just were'nt there.
We decided to move to another location and hunted on and off as we traveled down remote two-track dirt desert paths. We heard nothing and saw no tracks or scat. We ended up throwing in the towel at about 3 AM and camping for the night.
On Saturday we scouted and still found very few paw prints and zero scat. These used to be good areas but for some unknown reason, the yotes seemed to have moved on.
By Saturday night we were in an area that I usually always hunt with success. We saw some tracks but none of the usual territorial markings of scat along the trail. Finally at 7PM on Saturday night, we called in our first coyote.
It was a big night for Ken because he was trying out his new Rock River Arms heavy barrel AR in .223 caliber. Prior to our hunt, Ken had loaded up a bunch of different ammo and shot for groups at the range. The new rifle seemed to like just about everything he stuffed in the tube. Just for kicks, he loaded up some 50-grain Barnes Varmint Grenades that shot very accurately at the range and packed them for this hunt. Barnes touts their "explosive" effect on animals so Ken thought he'd give them a try.
Coyote number one was young, dumb and hungry. He came right in from just about dead down wind and stopped about 100-yards from the rig. I had his eyes lit up with a dim red light and Ken put a round right between the red dots that were the coyote's eyes reflecting back to us. We set our green laser line out to mark the location and went out to pick up the yote.
We were surprised when we got there because the hit was good but the animal was not dead. It was wounded and suffering. Ken and I never like to see an animal suffer and we strive to make sure they're dead before they hit the ground. Using Nosler Ballistic Tips, Sierra Blitz Kings or Hornady V-Max bullets assures that once hit, the yote is on to the promised land quickly. As far as we are concerned, the Barnes Varmint Grenades are for ground squirrels, period. Ken had to shoot the animal twice more at point blank range, into the vitals before the yote expired.
So we learned a lesson that night. Stick with bullets that have demonstrated proven performance on the game we usually hunt. The Barnes Varmint Grenade was the first "lead free" round we have tried on coyotes and we were not impressed.
By the end of the weekend, I had called in ten animals. Four coyotes and 6 Kit Fox. Two smart coyotes winded us and high-tailed it out of the area and two fell to Ken's AR. I decided to do the calling for most of the weekend so Ken could bloddy his new AR. The Backstabber did a great job and when there were animals around, it pulled them right in.