My First Coyote
By Duane Fronek
Back when I first got into this insane game of predator calling. I knew absolutely nothing about it. I’ve been trapping a number of years before and always heard about calling and seeing ads in hunting and trapping magazines advertising predator calls. At the time, before I got an interest in it, I thought it was some kind of gimmick. You know one of those things that this product will stack up the critters for you like cord wood. To say the least I was skeptical. I read an article where a trapper had used a predator call at sets before dark to help increase his catch by calling, then leaving and having a coyote or fox in his set come morning. So I thought to myself, you know I might just try that. I went to the local sporting goods store looking for a mouth call. I found an Olt closed reed predator call. When I got it home I read the directions on how to blow it. Well when I did, I thought to myself what animal would come to something so loud that sounded like a New Years Eve party horn. I had to laugh and thought, yeah right!. After all I was taught all my life while hunting that being quiet and still was paramount in being successful on a hunt.
But I thought to myself, it won’t hurt to try it at a fox set then leave and see what happens. That evening I took my call and went to where I had a fox set. It was just before dark. I sat down with no rifle(shows how much faith I had in this gig) and started calling. After the 10 min. mark or so I got up and left, went home and thought about it, is this gonna work or did I just scare every critter out of the country. Well the next morning came and time to check traps, the first set I checked of course was the one I called on. And low and behold there’s a beautiful red fox jumping around with a bracelet on. I was shocked and perplexed. Did the call help bring this fox in? Or was it a coincidence? At either rate it had my mind churning, thinking, devising and basically cluttered with all kinds of thoughts and ideas.
I decided to take this calling thing a little further. I started reading articles on calling, mostly Fur-Fish and Game, and the Trapper and Predator Caller, articles by Gerry Blair, Judd Cooney and others in the field taught me through their words in their articles. I took this knowledge and applied it to my new quest, to call in a fox or coyote to the gun. At the time I only had a 22mag. for this game, my 8mm deer rifle was too much for these critters if I wanted to save the hide they will so graciously donate. Well it wasn’t that easy. As hard as I tried, screaming in vain through that call I just couldn’t get any critter or any critter I was hunting for to come in. I had plenty of crows, ravens and hawks and eagles respond, but no four footed furry critters, well except for deer that seemed to take an interest in my doings, sometimes with an audience of 5-8 deer watching me, until I stood up and moved from the shadows when I was done. I figure I must be getting close to doing something right and sooner or later I’d connect. Well it turned out to be later, as a matter a fact a year later. It took me till the next winter to call in my first coyote.
The day I called in my first coyote still stands out in my mind and how it played out. It was around 8am, we just had a front blow through leaving behind 5 inches of snow, it was just ending as I got to my stand and the wind was surprisingly still. I took my seat upon a ridge over looking the frozen Wolf River, it was mid-January. I pulled out a new call I had recently purchased, a Johnny Stewart closed reed rabbit distress. I started to blow on the call producing the most heinous screams I could muster. I’d blow intermittently 8-10 seconds, pause repeat. After about 2 minutes into the set-up their they were, like ghosts appearing out of nowhere, 500 yds or so upstream. They had came from the woods on the opposite side. I continued to call, while the two blood thirsty carnivores came running down the river with murder in their eyes. I never seen an animal come running so fast with so much enthusiasm and so eager to die, it reminded of little kids chasing after the ice cream truck not watching for cars. They were on a mission, as they were coming one would nip at the other trying to trip the other one up so he could get there first. When they hit about the 300 yd mark, I didn’t know what to do, so I stopped calling, but they didn’t stop coming. When they hit a little island of basically tag alders, they just pushed right though. However upon emerging from the tags one coyote bit at the other coyotes front leg, tripping him up and rolling him in the snow as he continued to the distressful bunny that must be up ahead. Although briefly knocked off course the second coyote wasted no time getting back in the race. Little did he know that seconds later that little stunt would prove to have saved his hide for another day. For just as he was coming up from behind, a silent assassin sitting above already had his not so friendly comrade in the cross hairs, a second later a 40gr HP from the 22mag found bone beneath the mane covering her shoulder blades as her nose was sniffing in the fluffy snow. In an instant he swapped his tail for his head and was gone, leaving his accomplice splayed out on the fresh fluffy snow. That was 20 years ago and I still remember it as if it were yesterday.