March 2007 Editor’s Call
By Paul Wait
If It’s On the Schedule, We Hunt
Wind-driven ice pelted my cheeks, assaulting my rifle as a relentless bawling rabbit pleaded longingly in spite of the storm.
Halfway through the stand, moisture penetrated my innermost layer, seemingly dripping down the seam in my right pants leg. At that moment, I stopped caring whether a coyote, bobcat or even a mountain lion was approaching our ambush site. Four morning stands of enduring a cold front that alternated between dumping frozen and unfrozen liquid from the sky was plenty for me.
Most predator callers would have been done for the day. Heck, most callers would have taken one look outside and crawled right back into bed.
But when I travel 1,000 miles to meet a host for a three-day predator calling expedition, sleeping in is not an option. When it rains, we hunt. When the wind rips our hats off, we hunt. And if the temperatures dip below zero, well, you know… we’re glad it’s not windy and raining. And we hunt.
Most of my predator calling trips occur in January and February, which I’m well aware are the coldest months of the year. The problem is, I set up most of my hunts in June and July — when temperatures in my home state of Wisconsin are generally in the 80s. By then, I’ve forgotten whatever wrath of misery Mother Nature dished out six months earlier when I was toting a .22-250. All I seem to recall is that 10-second span when a cross hairs view of a tongue-wagging coyote filled my scope.
So of course I want to go back to Texas to call coyotes. “Sign me up,” I say with enthusiasm.
I’ve been there three times. Killed a pair of coyotes in 2000. Got another in 2001. Last month, another Texas song dog howled its last tune. According to my hunting notes, it snowed when I was there in 2000. Hmmm. My 2001 journal entry: “Snow spit sideways…” And last month, the Texas sage country was white when my shotgun halted a hard-charging female coyote.
Despite snow on every trip, Texas has been good to me. I cannot say the same for Nevada. To be fair, I’ve only been there once — in January 2006. The weather was perfect. For about three stands. Then, it was like someone had popped a huge balloon in California. Tumbleweeds bounced across the landscape. Just when I didn’t think it could blow harder or become more miserable, it began to snow. Mercifully, the snow stopped. And it started to rain.
We kept calling. If all of the coyotes within earshot weren’t amused, they were uninterested. No wounded rabbit was worth venturing out to find in that weather.
Of all my calling trips, Kansas in 2005 wins the prize for the most torturous, forgettable hunt ever. Below-zero temperatures greeted my arrival. But that wasn’t the major problem. Two days before my hunt, an ice storm covered the state.
Every gravel road, farm lane and field we drove on crunched with each turn of the tires. To say truck travel was a loud proposition is an understatement.
Coyotes on the Kansas prairie quickly learn that when a truck pulls over or drives into a field, that usually means men with guns. They flee. They hide. Or they flee, then hide. What they don’t do is come to a predator call, especially after they hear what could be best described as several elephants walking on glass approaching along a fence line.
I’ve never felt more stupid while hunting. Our only hope was to find a deaf coyote. And deaf coyotes don’t respond to predator calls.
I think it took all the way until August to forget that hunt.
This summer, long about a sunny, 84-degree Wisconsin day in July, my phone will ring.
“What’s that? You’ve got tons of virgin coyotes? Bobcats, too! You’re thinking late January? Yeah, it’ll be great to escape the Wisconsin winter. Sign me up!”