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.