By Duane Fronek
It was a fairly nice February day, temps in the 20’s. I had a buddy up for hunting coyotes. We made plans to go up into some back country that requires a 4 wheeler or snow mobile and snow shoes, a 6 mile trip from the main road. It was a river that snaked its way through some of the prettiest country around here. Going through tag alder marshes, tamarack swamps and popple slashes. The plan was to hit spots along this corridor for the day. It was a full moon cycle and we wanted to be out there when it rises.
The moon was due to rise around 3:30 pm. In the past it seems moonrise was a very productive time and we wanted to capitalize on it.
Our stands for the most part for the day only raised a few ravens and for some reason the chickadee’s , it seems their attracted to bunny screams, for they would flit around us and even had one land on my shoulder. We were fast approaching the magic of the moonrise and it was time to set up at our jewel of a spot we’ve been saving for this particular event.
Thee spot was a fork in a river, with one leg coming from the west and the other from the north, conjoining together to flow south. To the north the river rambled through heavy tag alders, and to the west it rolled in through tamaracks. My partner whom we’ll call “yotefever” as he calls himself for reason’s similar to buck fever. But make no mistake, he is a deadly assassin when you put that coyote out there beyond sniping range and with a center fire pistol to boot. On this particular day yotefever was packin’ a 6.5-.284 that bench pressed a 100gr ballistic tip out of a lever action single shot pistol that loaded through the breech, topped off with his leupy. He was cocked, locked and ready to rock as I toting my trusty 700 that lived off the .243.
We took our seats, with yotefever nestled up against a hummock facing north and me in the rear 20 yds back up against a stump facing west. With the sun hanging low to the south west and its night shift counterpart due to arrive shortly in the east we were ready to put that poor bunny to the test. I proceeded to scream through my red desert mouthpiece driving those talons deep into that poor bunnies back, it was a horrendous death, his screams so high they could cut through the ice that topped the river. Within moments a dark figure was spotted slinking across the ice from the tags to the north about 600yds out, a half a second later another unsavory character followed suit, then another. A bonifide triple was forming a hit squad on the paw. As they made there way in at a semi trot, I whispered to yotefever, “dogs at 12 o’clock“, he gave me the thumbs up as I gave a short waaaah on the red desert to keep their interest. And interested they were. Closing the gap single file galloping down the white carpet heading to yotefevers lap. When the lead hitman closed in on the 100yd mark he slowed his pace allowing his subordinates to take the lead. I could tell that dog was starting to get nervous, his posture was getting more hesitant. In all the excitement, it was just now becoming clear he was running into an ambush, he was facing right into the sun and the wind was blowing up his backside, he knew bad news was about to break, but the thought of that crimson colored meat had him hesitantly hooked. At that moment it dawned on me as well my mistake was about to magnify itself, as is the case when your too blind to see it in the first place. I had placed yotefever , not realizing it, right in the line of an incoming possibility, for he was between myself and the murderous trio.
I was waiting for yotefever to give the bark of death as the deadly trio was pushing the 40 yd. mark. And just like many hunts before, the scene was about to go down . The bark of death rolled off of yotefevers tongue, in an instant the trio locked the brakes, with the two lead dogs facing each other posed to bolt as the rear dog stood sentinel another 40 or so yards back ready to witness the show. A semi- second later the roar of yotefevers pistol caused the two lead dogs to bolt, only to collide with each other causing their descent to the ice, As in slow motion I pull myself out of hiding in the crouched position moving in to yotefevers right so to get a shot at the departing witness, as I come to yotefevers side I proceed to lock the cross hairs on the bolting dog who was now a couple hundred yards out , I send a 100 grainer in his direction but fails to slow him down. As I’m rackin’ the bolt for another round, thinking atleast 1 dog is dead on the ice and not knowing where the other went, two well furred critters jump from their iced slabs and getting traction peeled out, one heading straight away to catch up with the departed witness as the other heads to the hard right to the east. Now being surprised, rattled and mind going into frazzle mode, I send another round at the 2nd fleeing ball of fur. As I’m rackin the bolt for a 3rd round I glance down at yotefever trying to get another round in his, I swing around to the east bound dog who’s now truckin as if he’s floating across the ice at mach speed, I lead too much and blew snow up in front and just beyond his direction of travel. As I’m rackin the bolt for the 4rd round, the intended target hit’s the woods edge and stops for one glance back. I find him in the cross hairs of the Monarch and smile as I squeezed the trigger. The hammer drops striking air looking for the primer that wasn’t there, the coyote takes the cue and disappears leaving behind a scene of despair.
I look up into the eastern sky and there he is, the man on the moon peeking over the trees.
After regaining our composure, we assessed the situation and checked out the spots where the shots were to connect. Yotefevers spot in the front row showed no blood, but long guard hair that graced the top of the first coyotes withers and no blood to be found, just a maze of scrambled tracks of 2 confused and temporarily scared witless coyotes. The hung up dogs postion, showed nothing but snow and ice fluffed up from the .243 and which brings me to the last shot I realized I only loaded 3 rounds in the magazine After carefully investigating the scene and much head scratching, it was determined that Yotefever hit us both that afternoon.