By Duane Fronek
Back a few years ago, I had a friend that was a well seasoned veteran hunter. He was feared by deer anytime he crawled into a stand with a bow, and for fishing, he was a local pro in the eyes of the community. He was one of them people everyone liked. But his life was hunting and fishing and he excelled at it. He had more woods sense and experience than most twice his age, he was only 18. He was raised by a family that hunted and a bunch of uncles that taught him well.
I knew Jesse for a good many years, you’d see him when he was younger pedaling his bike down to the lake to fish and as he grew, you see him driving off to hunt. And as a kid he would often times come by to see my trapline catch for the day. I worked with Jesse at a local mill when he turned 18. We worked 3rd shift together and often talked of hunting and fishing. At this time Jesse had picked up the predator calling bug as did his buddies. They were in pursuit to see who could take their first dog before the others. And the talk led to Jesse and I setting up a morning of calling to get him his first coyote.
The morning came that we made plans for. It was -10 below zero and the snow that dropped five inches through the night had ended. It was overcast and just cracking daylight when Jesse and I parked the truck where we were to walk in to our set. The wind was calm, with an occasional whisper from the north. Walking in to our setup we cut 3 sets of fresh coyote tracks in the fluffy snow. They were heading east, cutting the cross wind disappearing into a large open field.
Jesse and I arrived at our point of ambush in the early dawn. A brushy fence line that ran north and south along the vast field the trio of nomads silently slinked across. As our anticipation was rising, Jesse took the west side of the line and I took the back to back seat to the east. We couldn’t see each other even though we were only 10 feet apart. But we could hear each other. And after settling in to our snow covered bunkers, Jesse let me know he was ready.
I pulled out my trusty little sweet talker, a Carlton open reed call. The rabbits screams were chilling, piercing the cottony landscape adding to her deadly beauty. Not even a minute into the bunnies death throws, the nomadic trio appears out of the twilight making their way to the shadowy edges of a brushy uncultivated clump of brush and sumac. They were coming hard right straight to the fenceline, trying to get to the slight downwind breeze to assess their plan of attack. I knew it would be over in a matter of seconds if I did nothing but watch. So turning to get square on them, the squeal of my foam seat pad against the bone chilling cold alerted the killers to my presence. One by one as if they were dominos their heads came up and eyes and ears stood at attention to my existence. In a desperate attempt to salvage the fast deteriorating situation, I awkwardly centered the cross hairs of my hungry .243 on the lead dog, a half a heartbeat later the trigger trips and sends a 100grs of copper and lead into the empty air around the intended recipient. In turn the roar and the flash of the cannon sent the tribe in a mad dash to the west through the brushy fence row seeking what cover they could to put between us.
Unknowingly they crossed into Jesse’s world. Jesse had already been standing when he heard my seat pad squeaking, thinking I was getting up myself from an unproductive stand. But Jesse was a quick study, the report of the .243 to the east alerted his model 7 .243 to the ready. As the fleeing aggressors angled straight away from Jesse, he had already locked in on the lead dog. Touching the trigger as the Alpha hit the 275yd mark, it kicked a 100gr. Boot right up the tail pipe. The intended target fell head over heels as if it were meant to be, and came to rest in the puff of snow facing the way he came without so much as a twitch . Jesse now held the braggin’ rights of the first dog, with a Texas heart shot.
Jesse was elated, the smile on his face was carved in stone, high fives and the trek to the fallen to retrieve his carcass who’s fur was to become, the reflection of memories. For myself I was once again satisfied to have introduced another into this thing they call predator hunting, connecting one to the results.
This blog post is dedicated in memory of my friend Jesse. He passed away the following fall, due to contracting spinal meningitis. He would never hunt again in our world, we lost a true sportsman in the truest sense of the term. At his request, about 40 of us all hunting friends and relatives , donned our hunting apparel to his wake and services as we laid him to rest. He is sadly missed by all.