Thursday, April 08, 2010

Man vs. Wild...

Alone in the woods isn't always as "alone" as it feels. Casey shares some thoughts at his blog based on a recent experience...
I said, right out loud, "Holy Crap! You're a coyote!". The coyote looked back at me with a look that clearly said he wasn't sure how humans had gotten to the top of the food chain, if that was my brightest comment.
I remember being in the piney woods of Georgia and hearing rustling in the brush, brush where numerous great big soybean-fed South Georgia feral hogs had been killed over the years, and wishing I had something more substantial in my hands than a falling-block .243 loaded for whitetail. You know, just in case...


BobG said...

Years ago when I was backpacking in the southern Utah desert I woke up one morning and found cougar tracks by my sleeping bag. From what I could tell, it had circled around my camp, and then came in and sat down four or five feet from me while I slept (I could see the brushed areas from its tail in the sand). Luckily it was only curious, and not in a bad mood.

Anonymous said...

Bob, had I awakened to see that (the cougar, not the tracks), I think I would have used my allotment of fear urine that night.


BobG said...

First time I saw one in the wilds, I was about 10 years old and he was only a dozen feet from me. When we made eye contact he ran. They're not usually much of a danger (unless you run from them), but they can be under the right conditions. Here in Salt Lake we get them down in the valley every year; usually kids and dogs chase the poor things around half a day until they hole up somewhere and the animal people can come rescue them.

Joanna said...

Do NOT pet the kitty. It CAN haz cheezburger, and you're it.

og said...

A 243 is probably an adequate round.

1 is probably not an adequate round COUNT.

Glad you lived to tell it.

I've come across coyote and fox in Indiana, and I've seen a cougar while driving, but the only thing that scared me while hunting was a badger. I figured he could outrun me, he could probably outclimb me, and he was gonna likely win unless I could smother him in excrement.

Fortunately I managed to get while the getting was good. Having had run-ins with badgers before, I was undesirous of repeating the experience.

staghounds said...

BobG, isn't that story supposed to start out when you were backpacking near Barcelona?

“It is my personal belief that when the last human has fallen, and the last skull lies on the irradiated earth, a coyote will come trotting out of some safe place. Don’t ask me where he’ll come from; but I believe that he will survive as he has always survived. The coyote will trot in his furtive, skulking manner, to the skull. He will approach it carefully with the caution borne of millenia of avoiding steel traps and snares and pitfall. He will cautiously sniff it. His educated nose will tell him that he no longer has anything to fear from the bleached remnant of a once great civilization. Taking a few short steps to get in the exact position, he will lift his leg.”

Charles Cadieux, via Coyote Crossing.

Ed Rasimus said...

I've seen a lot of coyotes in the wild and my experience is that they are more wary of man than man of coyote...but don't quote those famous last words if you don't want to.

OTOH, I've had the experience twice while hunting in Colorado of a cow elk coming up to with two to three feet of me. Excuse me, but they are tall, big, have bad breath and while they might not be carnivores they could certainly hurt you.

Similar had a badger (think wolverine who has been through a public relations course) nearly step on my foot while I was glassing a field for elk. Quietly whispering "shoo!" caused him to withdraw, but that could have turned out badly.

Being at the top of the food chain doesn't mean no challenges to the position!

Lynx217 said...

Waking up outside in Arizona and hearing a rattlesnake but not seeing it was scary enough for me!

Anonymous said...

Buddy n' me. Late 60's. Coming back north from FLA. Pulled over in semi-remote mountaintop rest area/campground. Only ones there. Throw bags out on ground, and snooze. Both of us apparently woke up simultaneously in moonlit night, knew the other one was awake, and also not to move.

Cautiously look to the side, and find us two bagged lunches are surrounded by a large circle of dogs, sitting on their haunches, about fifteen feet away anywhere ya looked. Just watching; interested like, ya know?

At the first metallic sound, of a bolt running home, they evaporated with a soft thudding of many feet into the darkness.

Interesting insight into mankind's past experiences of possibly not being at the top of the food chain.

Nothing like bears or Afraicana or Beeg Feesh, senor, but enlightening, nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

"Alone" in the woods? Unpossible, not to mention undesireable as that would kind of defeat the purpose of crouching in the blind or stand and shivering in the chilly light of dawn...and I loved it.

Never really concerned about a creeping coyote, a bad-ass boar, grouchy gator, or even the occasional black b'ar.

But know what ended those halcyon days? When "not alone" stopped being about the critters and started being about the bipods.

Last straw? A 14 year old boy, placed in a stand by his uncle who hoped the young'un would take his first whitetail from there, instead was shot out of that tree by a braindead yahoo who fired *his fucking deer rifle* at a "rustle in the branches".

Never heard just what kind of deer this idiot thought had climbed twenty feet up a pine tree; his stupid cost him just six months in jail for "reckless endangerment", but it cost that boy his life and it caused me to give up a fall tradition that I loved.

When it comes to critters, leave me alone in the woods with the ones with the furry backs and I'll be just fine, but God save me from the ones with the furry brains.


BobG said...

Staghounds: that sounds just like a coyote; actually I was outside of Escalante, Utah. Lots of coyotes and cougars around there.
Og: I agree with you on badgers. I've had one of those run me off before; nasty critters when riled.

Anonymous said...

Nobody ever believes how fast a cougar can move/cover 30 feet or so from a sitting position until they see one do it.

loren said...

One early dawn on a Colorado canyon side. I watched as a coyote pup came trotting along towards me. It stopped a few feet away to check out the blockage in his path which was my size 12's. Figuring that it wasn't a big deal he proceeded to walk between my legs and down the path. I watched him disappear around the bend clueless as could be.
Another time a badger walked by 10 feet away, equally clueless or perhaps indifferent. Had a friend and my Irish Setter along. Loved that dog, but brains wasn't his strong suit, so I was real worried he'd get his ass chewed. Gave the dog a look that said "don't even think about it". Dog looked back at me and gave a look back that said "What? you think I'm that stupid? Never moved a muscle.

Stretch said...

Few years back was backing out of garage with wife @ 0900 hrs. Wife brings me to a stop with a loud "LOOK!" Between our garage and neighbor's (30 feet) was a very large red fox. And we thought the town's road crews were doing an excellent job of cleaning up roadkill.
Coyotes regular visitors along W&OD Bike trail.
Suburbia indeed.

Moriarty said...

What a coincidence. The last coyote I saw gave me the same look right before I sent him back to the bottom of the food chain.

DJ said...

I had a couple of incidents recently y'all might get a (ahem) bang out of.

Two weeks ago, I was brush-hogging my father-in-law's property where my deer food plot is. A coyote came across hundreds of yards of pasture and stopped about 45 yards right in front of the tractor. I stopped the tractor and he completely ignored it. He was quite actively hunting field mice in the grass I had cut.

All I had with me was the Ruger LCP in my pocket. I opened the door of the cab, stepped to the edge, rested my grip on the grab rail, sighted carefully, and he still ignored me. Of course I missed. A Ruger LCP at 45 yards? You expected otherwise? I saw the bullet impact the dirt past him; I shot about half a foot over him.

Never again. Next time, the 686 Smith with scope will be with me. It fits with its holster in a pocket on the left fender that might as well have been made for it. I can hit milk jugs at 200 yards with it off sandbags, and it does quite a number on hogs.

This afternoon, I was up there again, fertilizing the food plot and setting out my trail camera. I walked down a road that crosses through the woods and scared up a group of about ten or so big boars. The ones I clearly saw could easily run 150 pounds or more. Judging by the smell, their cojones were at least that big.

I managed to get the sights on the back end of the last one as they cleared the area. Now, had my artillery been in my hand instead of in its holster, things would have been much different.

Never again. Next time, the 1911 Kimber will be in my hand where I can do something with it. The holster is for carrying it to the woods. The hand is for carrying it in the woods.

Unknown said...

I figure that if I hear some sort of noise when out in the boonies, it means something is there. It might need shooting; it might not. But if I'm not ready to shoot, there's not a lot of point in my getting up and moving around. Even when I give up and call it quits for the day, I check all around as I begin to move--and I'm still hunting as I travel back to truck or camp.


deadcenter said...

Where I work, we have hundreds of coyotes on the site. The most interesting encounter was while driving when I and a colleague watched a coyote watch our truck and another truck pass by in front of him, then looked both ways again and crossed the road.

JPG said...

I remember that pretty lil' .243. I also seem to recall that everyone in that particular hunt camp seemed to have a heavy resolver or a flat black automatic Colt's patent pumpkin roller handy. I KNOW you had one of the latter snugged a little aft of your right hipbone. That can reduce the worry about porcine proximity.

Anonymous said...


I haven't seen any 'yotes while biking on the W&OD, but I've seen a dead one on the Fairfax portion of I66. Friends have seen them in other parts of NoVa. For such a busy urban area, NoVa has a pretty good compliment of wildlife.

Boat Guy said...

Until JPG's comment I was wondering if this was a recorded instance where Tam didn't have one of JMB's best along.
I've always carried a sidearm while hunting (even in Germany where it's allowed for the "fangschuss"). The primary "hunting" piece is adjusted for what I'm looking to put in the pot, but there's always an N-frame or something with a ".4" attached to my chubby carcass. And yes, it's at least as much for bipeds as quadrupeds

Billy Beck said...

I had heard of black bears in Daisy Hollow before, and seen the photograph of the one in the front yard of the place across the road three summers ago, but it wasn't until two weeks ago that I saw tracks on my section of the creek.

"Why, hello!" I thought to myself.

I'm sure they're all quite charming, but I am now more careful now out there than ever before.

Billy Beck said...

Ps. -- on coyotes...

Remember KLZU, Tam?

I was taught that night landings always bear a low pass and then around again for the full-stop, in order to clear the buggers off the runway.

Ed Foster said...

Welcome to sunny Connecticut, with supposedly more deer per square mile than any other place in North America, where coyotes are as common as cockroaches, and my sister had to sell her house in Simsbury due to the constant stream of bears tearing up her yard.

Tam: I wouldn't feel too undergunned for anything around here with my .243 Win. #1 International. It really loves that 100 grain Federal.

But there is a .45 on my hip as backup when I'm out in the bush, just in case my shot placement is a tad less then perfect.

Really, with people living so close to so many animals (I see foxes, coyote, deer, and wild turkey all the time here in suburbia), I'm amazed that we haven't lost a child or two to a kiddie muncher yet. Only a matter of time.

There have been several sightings of mountain lions in the thinly settled north-east of the state, and God only knows what's slipping around in the mostly unpopulated north west, the so-called "Litchfield Hills", actually our part of the Appalachins.

I'm looking at some land out around Winchester, pretty much in the heart of the empty, a mile off the single lane blacktop, and a long morning's hike from any road wide enough to have a stripe down the middle.

If I see any half wolf coyotes or mountain lions there, I'm not telling the fish and game people. I think I feel safer with them as neighbors than some of the humans who live nearer Hartford.

Stretch said...

Dear Anon.
W&OD Bike Trail is a coyote commuter route at night. If you're up early enough or at dusk you may be lucky enough to see them. As the trail run by many backyards the coyotes check out the availability of food in the form of pet food or pets AS food. Also allows them to cross major roads with no danger. And as observed by others they do look both ways before crossings. Am waiting to see the first one use the "Push to Cross" buttons.

Anonymous said...

I startled a half-grown bobcat while hiking in western Kansas one time. We both sort of stared at each other before he decided to take an alternate route. I've not encountered cougars yet, but I do carry when out in the back of beyond on some BLM/Forest Service/ who knows land because of feral dogs. [insert rant about people who dump/abandon animals here] I can out climb the pack, but they know the back routes, and there are places where it's a long way to run to the closest cliff.