Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hiking and Hunting

Lately I've been trying to step up my predator hunting game. Coyotes are one of the hardest animals to hunt and the area I live in doesn't make it any easier. It's rough terrain and tons of vegetation here. I'd argue it's one of the hardest places in the country to hunt yotes. For a long time I was having trouble just calling them in. I would go months without seeing anything.  Lately I have been having better luck in that department. 

A couple months ago I was hiking at one of my favorite spots and saw a coyote. I had my AK-47 with me and the coyote went behind a bush across the wash. He was a big coyote so I thought it might be a deer. By the time I could tell what it was he took off without me firing a shot. 

A couple weeks later I did a rain hunt. I had been calling for about 2 hours and as soon as the rain stopped and I switched over to screemin chicken a fox came running in. Again, I had my AK-47. Bad choice. I should have brought the 12 gauge. I'm pretty sure I hit him because he fell over but then took off. Then a week later in the same spot a coyote came running in but I locked up. I wanted to get a good shot and I took too long. I didn't have a side shot on this one. I had him straight in the crosshairs. I was going to take one more breath and pull the trigger but he took off and I never got a shot. Had I pulled the trigger I'm 100% sure that would have been a dead coyote but I locked up. After that I was shaking out of control for a minute because of the anxiety and adrenaline. I wasn't about to make that mistake again. 

Last week I decided to try the north side of Lake Pleasant. That was a big waste. There's probably a ton of coyotes out there but the vegetation is way to thick and there are no openings so the odds of seeing them are way low. I actually could hear a burro about 50 feet away but couldn't see it. I was putting on my donkey sounds on my call and he was calling back. 

So then I found a new spot about 80 minutes from here. I was calling for about 45 minutes at that spot then out of the corner of my eye, at my 4 o'clock, I saw a coyote just 15 feet away. He was looking down at my decoy and call and apparently had no idea I was there. I had my .223 on my lap and my remote for my decoy in my left hand. So I tried to slowly put the remote down but then the call stopped. So I hit play again and the coyote was trying to decide if he was going to make the move. He finally went for it and I reached for my 12 gauge. I was going to shoot him in the ass with a 00 buck shot but he quickly turned and took off. So I grabbed the .223 and went running up a hill thinking that would be the last of him. Well by the time I made it the 40-50 yards up the hill the coyote had made it down that hill, across a wash, and up a hill on the other side. I saw him go behind a cactus so I put my crosshairs on the other side of the cactus. As soon as I saw him I pulled the trigger and I believe I shot him right in the back legs. I saw him go down hard and he gave off a 2-3 second yelp. I took off into the wash and then realized I wasn't paying attention to where the coyote was. I looked for 20 minutes in the heat with cactus in my foot but never found that coyote. I'm sure he didn't survive the day though. 

So then my coworker and I did a night hunt. We found three coyotes but they were all while driving. By the time we'd get out the truck they were gone. A full night of hunting and couldn't call anything in.

So today was a new strategy. I figure I'm probably calling in a lot of them that I'm not even seeing and I need to try some new spots. So I did a 3.5 mile hike (one way) with my 50 pound backpack plus my 12 gauge and setup early this morning on a cliff overlooking a certain creek that I won't put on my blog. I did my first round of calls and nothing. Then the second round I changed the call and right away in came a grey fox from 200 yards. I took the first shot at a charging fox and believe I missed. He ran another 30 yards and by that time I was standing up and shot at him right through a bush. No yelping or anything so I was debating if I should go down there and look for it. So I ended up taking the 5 minute hike down the cliff and at first found nothing. Then I found a couple pools of blood on rocks and blood spatter as far as 20 feet away. I tried to follow the blood trail. It went through a bush, over a little mound and then disappeared. The vegetation was heavy there with fallen trees and mounds and mounds of dead wood. I searched for an hour and a half and found nothing. I did almost step on a Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake though. That's probably the third rattlesnake I've seen this month. For some reason I see them a lot in October. 

So now at least I have a couple on my kill count just no pelt. I need to stop aiming for the center of mass and go closer to the shoulder. Had I been using my 30 06 I'd have a couple kills that don't manage to evade me however the hide would be unusable. 

Off General Cook Trail, about an hour north of me. Found lots of scat but never actually seen a coyote there. It was a nice spot to just sit and enjoy the quiet though. 
 The spot where I had a coyote come up beside me. I'm taking a break from that spot for a while.

 Agua Fria. There was a big fire there but the wash is still green so I thought it would be easy to call in a coyote. There might be too much human activity in that area though.

Hiking a couple weeks ago behind my house and came within 15 feet of this bobcat.
First quail of the season.
My new spot. Saw him come charging in from the tree line across the way. 
 Exhibit A
 Exhibit B. That's a different rock. Above is where I was shooting.
 Followed the trail through the bushes and then nothing.
 Southwest Speckled Rattlesnake
He wasn't mad til I pulled out the camera.