Friday, October 23, 2015

Giving A Coyote A Haircut

This week I got a new coyote howler and changed up my calling strategy. Yesterday morning I went hunting and instead of starting out with the usual injured cottontail call I decided to start up with a howler (sounding like another coyote). So I did some howls, let them know I'm in the area, then shut up for  a couple minutes. That is when I switched over to cottontail. I figured now that they know there is a coyote in the area they'll think he has a cottontail. On my second round of using the cottontail call I noticed a coyote only 60 yards +- away. 

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest with excitement. I was sure I was going to be bagging a coyote. The sun wasn't quite up yet and I'm looking at my setup from when it was dark and realized I'm really not in the best position. The coyote was 60 yards to my east and my decoy and electric caller were 45 yards to my south. In between the call and the coyote were a lot of blind spots mostly palo verde trees. Even where the coyote was I could hardly see him. There are a lot of small shrubs and bushes in this part of the desert and Wile e was blending in really well with some bushes with these silvery/grayish leaves. To top it off the call was on the high ground. 

So I kept lifting my rifle trying to get the coyote in my scope but it seemed like he was everywhere. I'd get my rifle up and there would be nothing but bushes in the scope.  He would come in a take a look then move around. I think he was a little paranoid. Finally the coyote gets in a spot where I have a view of half it's body, about 60 yards away. I figured if I don't take the shot quick the coyote is going to realize I'm there or attack my decoy so I squeezed off a shot. Immediately I saw a big cloud of dust. Not a good sign, I want to see blood, not dust. Then off runs the coyote. 

My Tikka T3 is a bolt action so forget about getting a second shot off. I've done a lot of reading about coyote hunting a everyone says to have a shotgun for situations like this. Arizona definitely has some trickier terrian then the Mohave Desert or the plains. If I had been using a shotgun this whole time I'd likely have three dead coyotes. Hell even with an iron sight rifle I would have bagged this thing. I nailed a pig in Florida with my cheap Norinco SKS. I think iron sights are definitely easier at close range, plus those guns are all semi-automatic, but I am stubborn and determined to nail one with my 30 06 before I go shotgun or bust out my AK-47. So naturally there was a lot of disappointment after missing my shot. I walked over to where I think the coyote was when I took the shot and found this. I know these are his tracks because we had a lot of rain so all the tracks are fresh. Next to the track is a little bit of coyote fur.

I can't really explain the fur. At this spot the tracks are deepest so it's like he really dug in when I took the shot. I don't know if the fur came off his paw when he took off or if the bullet came so close to his back that it took off some fur in the process. I do know I didn't actually hit any flesh. With a 30 06 you don't need a good hit, any hit will take down a coyote and they aren't getting up. 

Afterwards I hiked another 5 miles and tried to find more coyotes but my hunt was ruined after this. I did setup a water bottle about 80 yards away at one point and took 3 shots. The first two missed and the third I had to aim low. So now I know my problem. When I practice at the range I'm sighted in at eye level at 100 yards. At 60-80 yards, sitting on the ground, I'm shooting too high. 

The hunt wasn't a total disappointment. I got to get in a good workout hauling gear through the desert, I've learned the coyote's ways, and I think I'm ready to finally bag one. I go on call tonight but if no one is bugging me tomorrow morning I might get another chance. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Coyotes, The Kids, Grandma, Colorado & Stuff

A lot has happened since my last post. Just before my last post I took up coyote hunting. Since then I have been out several times, at least once a week, trying to bag a coyote. My first time out by myself I  went back to Daisy Mountain where my brother in law were trying to hunt a coyote. After an hour or so I got bored trying to call them in so I decided to move to the hill across the wash. I made the mistake of unloading my gun and taking out the magazine. As I crossed the wash I saw a pack of 4-5 coyotes on the edge of the wash 200 yards away. I put down my gear, put my magazine in the rifle, cocked it (which startled Wile e and his friends) and had to take a hasty shot through a bush. Needless to say I missed and since then I think the coyotes are on to my game. 

A week later I went back to Daisy, this time on trash day, and as I am driving through the neighborhood I heard a squeal. The roads weren't wet so I start thinking it couldn't be my tires. I look around and see the trash cans and figured maybe someone chucked a rock at a coyote going through the trash. So I park my car a couple blocks down the road and as I'm unloading my rifle two coyotes going running past me. Of course I can't shoot them within 440 yards of a house so I was completely screwed. I grabbed my gear and tried to get them out of the neighborhood but never did see another coyote that day. I heard footsteps behind me on a hill and there was a lot of brush so I'm thinking maybe they came up behind me. Since then I have had a few more trips out there and haven't seen a thing. I don't know if I spooked them all, if the area is over hunted and they are paranoid, or if I just need to wait until later in the season.

Every time I come home I walk in the door with my head low in shame. Natalie makes comments that if we had to survive on my hunting skills we'd be starving but that's not the case. I could bag a dozen bunnies in over an hour if I was hungry but I'm out there for one thing only, coyotes. Eventually I'll get my coyote. They claim they are one of the hardest animals to hunt and it's not until you try it that you understand why. But eventually their luck will run out and I'll come home with a grin ear to ear and a nice new fur rug.

So also on the list of new things in the Alves home is that Zach is finally starting to talk. A couple months ago he had a checkup with his doctor and she referred us to a speech therapist. I told Natalie I think the doctor is nuts. She's just some lady that has no real world experience with kids and got her knowledge from a book. Well as time went on I started thinking maybe something was wrong. Boys definitely develop different than girls and his lack of asking me for something as simple as water has been driving me nuts. Zach will put my hand on something if he wants it because he is too lazy to ask for it. He'll grab my hand and walk me out to the car when he wants to go out but he won't ask. He shouts a bunch of nonsense all the time and I feel like I'm being yelled out by a tiny little German. The kid can go from extremely cute to driving us insane in just a matter of minutes. It's been very stressful dealing with the little man. He wakes us up early, fights us going to bed, has nasty tantrums at nap time. He's a challenging little one.

He's a smart kid though. He knows to get his shoes if he wants out and he listens to commands. So a couple weeks ago he got his first appointment to see if he needs speech therapy and they decided he did. They said everything else is normal or above except speech. Well yesterday a speech therapist came and spent a couple hours here and said he is completely normal. Turns out my initial instinct was correct. So at 20 months Zach is sometimes a happy baby and sometimes a complete grump. He loves to be outside, he loves to be carried, he kicks and screams when he isn't the center of attention or he is held by someone who dares to sit down. Zach loves to play cleanup and every time I start cleaning up the house he grabs his toy vacuum so he can help out. I forgot to write the exact date but I think Zach started giving hugs about 6 weeks ago. He's a very curious little guy and likes to see how everything works and loves to close anything that he finds open. Unlike his sister Zach is a champion at eating. He's usually the first, or second one done with his meal.

Adri is loving school and not much has changed with her except she is going to need glasses. It's funny because a couple weeks ago she said she loves me and I am the best dad even though I am old and worn out. Well I got my eyes checked yesterday and I have 20/20 vision, or as the doctor said "Pretty damn good vision" but apparently my daughter got her mother's poor sight. She is all excited about getting glasses. Of course kids also get excited when they break their arm and get a cast. 

Last month, I believe on September 13th, my sister in law was in town and we were all out shopping. I got a text message from my sister that my grandma, who is the last of the 3 to survive, was found unconscious and on life support. My grandma's mom had just died not even two years earlier at something like 97 years old. This was no surprised as she was ready to go. Her husband had died 8 years earlier and she kept telling everyone she is done. With my Grandma Alves it was different. Was I completely surprised? No. I mean I really thought she had ten years left in her but due to her poor diet I wasn't completely surprised.

As a kid I was really close to my grandma. Out of all the grand-kids I would have to say I was the chosen one of the 80's and 90's. We always joke that Grandma used me to clean up her dog poop. My grandma was a smart woman that kinda got dealt a crappy hand. My grandpa and her married twice, divorced twice, and even though he moved on she never did. She got stuck raising six kids alone and never got over my grandma. Why? I have no friggin clue. Even after everything she was there on his deathbed holding his hand. She's definitely a lot more forgiving person than I am. My grandma was a smart woman too. Even in her older age she got training and learned how to use computers. She worked as a computer operator for a couple different companies, one of them being Marquez (they make microwave burritos).

So back to the dog poop. I really did go over there to clean up the dog poop but that's not the only reason she had me over. Grandma used to have me over on the weekends long before I was big enough to clean up dog poo. I probably was only 4-5 years old when my mom would unload me on Grandma so she could get a break for a couple days. I remember when I was really small her taking me down to San Diego to my uncle's house, one of the few times I got to see my cousin back in those days. When I was probably 6-7 Grandma took me on my first trip out of the country to the far away land of Tijuana. Grandma made the mistake of telling us don't drink the water down there and she was embarrassed when my cousin and I kept repeating it. When it came time for her to buy me a souvenir I wanted a pipe, for smoking, no joke. They had marble looking pipes and I thought they were tools. Once she told me what they were I settled for mounted bull horns instead.

Once I was a little older I remember going over to Grandma's at least once a month. Every time my mom wanted a break she'd ask me if I wanted to go hang out at Grandma's. Grandma would pick me up, take me to eat, usually at Gay & Larry's (Mexican food in Rubidoux that closed down ten years ago) and show me off to her friends. She would then take me to Stater Bros and brag about me some more. If she had to work I'd go to work with her and play on her computer. At her house we would play Nintendo, computer games, watch movies, and eat junk. Being how my grandma worked for Marquez she got free burritos. I would eat 15 of those things in a weekend and kill the coca colas. Her video game of choice was Doctor Mario. Grandma had a stash of movies for me too, everything from Duck Tales to Top Gun, Rain Man, and her all time favorite that I probably watched a dozen times was a comedy called He's My Girl. My mom wasn't happy when she found out I was watching Rain Man at Grandma's but it was the edited version.  Grandma would even take me swimming when I was out there.

I kept staying over at Grandma's house probably until after high school. Then eventually I moved away and only got to see her a couple times a year. Over the past few years she had shrunk from probably about 5'3" to not even 4'10".

So last week we finally had the memorial for Grandma. She was already cremated so it wasn't a typical funeral. Everyone showed up, talked about Grandma, had a slideshow, ate dinner and hung out. My family didn't call it a funeral, they called it a life celebration. I thought it was well done and when I die, we are all going to die, I want something similar to that. No one crying over my dead body; just share your memories.

So if there is one positive thing that came out of last week I got to see all my family. My redneck cousins came out from CO, other cousins from Oregon, and even the ghosts (we never see them) came up from San Diego. It was good to get the family all together and it seems to only happen nowadays at funerals.

While my cousins were out we had a lot of conversation about Colorado. We have decided that if we can next year we are taking off for Fort Collins, Colorado. I can't stand this heat anymore so I asked my boss for a transfer. I get my answer in a couple months. I might be doing 50/50 at home and in between the Denver data center or might even go 100% from home. We'll see what they let me do. We were considering Utah. Utah is cheaper, so much cheaper for a huge home, and it's closer to family in CA but we would be in the same situation as here with no family within hundreds of miles. If we move to CO we would have family close, I could join them in redneck activities like hunting and fishing and maybe even learn some skills like wielding, we could enjoy seasons and snow, and it's easier to get other family to come out to visit we have more numbers in one location. So we are keeping our fingers crossed for a transfer next year. I never thought I would like living in the snow but I think I'm ready for a change. As long as we have weather I should be fine. I hate having day after day of sun, sun, and more sun. Throw in a blizzard, a tornado, or some thunder and lightning and I'm a happy guy.

It has finally cooled off here. It was 100 degrees a couple days ago and we are going to have a high in the low 70s in a couple more days. I never thought I would be so excited for the cooler weather. 

Here's a picture of Grandma, Cassandra, and apparently me.

At my Grandma's house in Riverside. Oh how much I loathed her dogs, which she tried to make me call her uncles. I believe this is Baron and Belvedere.

I was so surprised when I saw this picture come up at the memorial. This was our trip to Tijuana back in 1922. Looks like the customs line.

Don't know where this one was but that looks like my grandpa on the left. Of course Grandma has her Coors on the table. She loved that nasty piss beer and only drank Coors.

My little sister and Me playing horse on Grandma. And there's Cassandra in the back trying on high heels.

The teenager in the back is my Dad, next to him is Grandma, next to her Great Aunt Margie and holding me I think is Aunt Sharon.

Zachy Zach playing with his cars.

At one of my hunting spots. I plan on hitting up that peak, Gavalian Peak, really soon. 
Waiting for coyotes.

A couple weeks ago they had a truck event at the library here in Anthem. Zachy Zach was climbing all over them.

Adri was kicking and screaming one afternoon that she didn't want her nap. She was throwing a pretty nasty tantrum. When I went to check on her a while later she was sleeping with a picture of Natalie and Me next to her.
Five minutes after nearly giving me an aneurysm.

A rare sight in AZ. A double rainbow.
Super Zach.

Packing up for a hunting trip and Zach figured out the bolt on my Tikka T3. Open close, open close, open close. He was pretty entertained. 

Yesterday I was hiking through a wash and almost stepped on this guy. Every other rattlesnake I have seen in this state has giving me a warning that I'm getting too close but not this guy. One more step and I would have been right on top of him. He was nice enough to let me take a couple pictures. I was thinking of taking a video of him getting pissed off but decided to leave him alone. Didn't want him to think all humans are jerks and make him super aggressive.

Zachy Zach after drinking his smoothie this morning. He was giving me a mad stare and wasn't letting up. I kept trying to get a smile but this is all I got. 

Zach likes to check on his doggy pillow when it's bed time. 
Zach playing with my predator call. This is the distressed cotton tail. 

Hopefully my next post will have pictures of a dead coyote.