Trapping an Alpha
Dunkiek, New York, Age 16
It was a cold, crisp October morning when I first saw it. It was stalking prey along a fence line and was easily the largest coyote I had ever seen in the wild.
Because the wind was blowing toward me, I sat still — undetected. The coyote was a magnificent creature with thick, reddish-brown fur. It must have sensed my presence or heard my heart beating, though, because the animal stopped dead in its tracks and quickly disappeared.
That was the only time I saw the coyote, but I would find his large tracks in the mud from time to time.
Whenever I would find a track, I thought it would be a real accomplishment for me to trap that coyote. Soon, I had set that as my goal.
My dad, brother and I trapped some, but we never trapped for coyotes. We like water trapping.
I asked Dad for help, and he showed me how to make proper land sets such as dirtholes and flat sets. He stressed the importance of clean traps and equipment.
I wanted to catch the coyote on my own, so Dad loaned me a few #13/4 coilsprings and lure.
My first task was to pick the best locations. I searched the field that I watched the coyote in.
I located a crossing near the end of a fence line that led into another pasture. At the crossing, I set a dirthole with lure and urine, then a flat set with a different lure. They looked good to me.
At another location, I spotted an old log at the end of a field. I made a modified dirthole with the bait under the log in a small hole. I added a little urine on the log, but no lure.
I had high hopes for the sets. Dad said it takes time, though, because coyotes cover a lot of territory.
I checked my sets faithfully all week, but only caught two opossums and a nice red fox at the log set.
On the eighth day, I had a small female coyote at the flat set. It was exciting, but it was not the big dog. I had hoped it was the alpha male.
The next week, I went bow-hunting with my grandfather. I asked him to go with me to check my traps. He agreed. When we got to the log set, it held another red fox. I was pleased, and I hurried to the last sets.
As we approached the sets, I could hardly contain my excitement. Held by a front foot was one large coyote.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. He was beautiful!
When we got home, we took a lot of pictures. The neighbors stopped by when they saw us.
I actually caught the leader of the pack! I’m sure that coyote’s offspring are running the fields. They will be my next challenge.
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