BACK AT CAMP

The Coyote & The Bear

Column By Matt Stone

      It was hot. The clock in the truck dash showed that it was around noon, the temperature was already 90° and not a breath of air stirred anywhere. I was slowly cruising around a large pasture on a cattle farm, checking the woven wire fence for places where calf eating coyotes were entering the field and I was making a turn at a fence corner when I heard what I thought at first to be a dog barking its fool head off, down in the woods on the other side of the fence.

      I stopped the truck and listened. The constant, rapid barking never let up. After listening a bit, I got out of the truck, walked over to the fence and listened more. Soon I came to the conclusion that it was not a domestic dog doing all of the hell raising, but a coyote! In all of my

years in the woods, anywhere in America, I had never heard a single

coyote bark this much. I was puzzled to say the least. It was June, and knowing that

female coyotes were with pups, I figured these crazy goings on had to be related to a female with pups.

            All of this action was taking place about 100 yards or more down in some thick pine and brush growth and I couldn’t see what was going on. After another 5 minutes or so of this constant yammering, I couldn’t take it anymore. Grabbing my rifle, I eased over the fence and began stalking towards the upset coyote. Easing along, slowly and quietly, I got within 50 yards of the coyote and could see a little through the thick growth. The coyote was baying at something in a thick clump of brush, running back and forth in front of it.

            Movement beyond the coyote caught my eye and I soon could pick out the heads of two coyote pups, peering over a fallen log, watching Mama doing her thing. I could only catch glimpses of the female coyote as she dodged back and forth in front of the brush clump. I remember wishing that I had brought along my old 870 Remington pump loaded with #4 buckshot and not the scoped rifle.

            I was just starting to move a little to my right to see better when I felt a slight breeze hit the back of sweaty neck, going straight to the coyote. Damn! I knew my goose was cooked for sure.

            A black bear, weighing maybe 300 pounds, rose up from the clump of brush, turned and looked straight at me! The coyote stopped the barking and froze in her tracks. I was so startled at what was taking place that I froze in my tracks also. Before I could get myself together and even raise my rifle to try and get the coyote in my scope, the bear let out a loud “woof”. Dropping back down quickly, the bear picked up something in its mouth and crashed away through the brush at top speed.

            I caught a fleeting glimpse of the coyote as she took out behind the bear. Soon she began barking again like a bear hound running a hot track. I never saw the pups again and figured they were somewhere behind her. I just stood there, like a big dummy, trying to figure out what the hell I had just witnessed.

            Coming out of my stupor, I walked down to the brush were the bear had been. I could still hear the fool coyote, a quarter of a mile or more away, still barking occasionally at the bear. I saw hair, bits and pieces of a fawn deer where the bear had apparently been feeding on it.

            Then I started asking myself questions. Why was this coyote, with pups, acting such a fool as to try and run a bear off of the fawn? Did the bear kill the fawn or did the coyote? To the best I can figure it, the coyote killed the fawn and was going to share it with the pups. The bear, who must have been nearby, came in and took it away from her. Why else would a lone coyote (or even a pack of them) take on a bear?

            Like many other happenings that I have witnessed in a lifetime in the woods, I realize I’ll never know for sure how this particular event came down. I did tell one of my bear hunting buddies about the incident and told him that if I ever caught this coyote, I could take her alive and sell her to him to put in his bear pack.