WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Heeding the call of the wild

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Heeding the call of the wild

Record-Journal

I was on a bowhunting trip for deer in Vermont with my brother Paul when I heard my first real call of the wild.

It could not have been staged any better: a full moon and the lonesome howling of a coyote. The fact that it was answered by another coyote only made it feel that much wilder.

I can tell you for a fact that the howling and sometimes screeching howl of a coyote can put you on first alert, especially in the dark hours. I was on a hunting trip in Maine with my old buddy Mike Hanlon one year. We stopped the truck in an area with a large gravel pit to look for deer tracks.

As if on cue, a pack of coyotes let loose with some howling. Mike and I stood back and just listened.

“Sounds like they are chasing something,” Mike said, and I agreed with him.

Whatever unfortunate critter the pack was chasing turned off to our left, so we never saw it, but the ferocious squeals and screams that made it sound as if the pack caught its prey were something not soon forgotten.

That same year, while still hunting deer in Maine, I heard another coyote chase, this time down in the deep woods. Once again, the sounds were terrifying.

While on an elk hunt in Utah we had coyotes come right into camp and do some howling around the horse corral. A couple revolver shots by one of the guides sent them on their way.

One year while deer hunting in Maine I was “escorted” out of the woods by a pack of coyotes, and they did have my attention. 

I had left camp early enough to put myself on the edge of a clearcut I wanted to hunt. I had about an hour and a half before sunset and things were looking just dandy. About a half hour before sunset, I heard a coyote howl off to the north. Then one to the east, then west. Before you know it, I was in the center of all the howling.

I had put out some deer scent, as well as on my boots, so I figured that’s what was getting them so excited. I decided to head back to the cabin a bit earlier than planned. As I moved, the danged coyote pack moved with me.

To say I was uncomfortable with what was going on would be an understatement.

I tried to deter them with a lot of yelling, but they kept pace with me as I made my way back to camp. I finally turned on my flashlight and kept yelling at them, but they would not go away. They stayed back in the brush so I could not see them. If had seen one or two, I would have shot them.

They stayed with me all the way back to camp. When I reached the open field that abutted camp, the howling ceased. I’m no sissy in the woods, but I’d be lying if I said I was not concerned.

Here in Connecticut, one of the earliest coyotes sightings was in the early 50s. I believe it was a friend of my father. He shot the coyote in the Washington Head area off the Chamberlain Highway. It wasn’t long before others have been sighted and the list if sightings and run-ins gets larger every year.

There was a time coyotes were not considered a suburban or city animal. Not anymore. Numerous reports of coyotes prowling around those huge trash containers, especially those that contain food, are common.

As for the range of their appetite, a friend of mine who exhibits draft horses told me he has seen coyotes feeding in the manure piles. 

Our niece, Joanne Griffin, told us that one evening a coyote came up onto her porch and grabbed a cat that had been napping. She heard the poor cat yowl and ran out on to the porch screaming. The coyote dropped the cat from its mouth, but I would expect it had a few nightmares after that episode.

In the early years of coyote sightings in the wild, it was thought that coyotes had little, if any effect on deer herds. Boy, were they wrong on that one.

Going back to an incident in Maine, a bunch of us had traveled to the Grace Pond area just outside of Jackman on the Canadian border. One of the guys carried a .357 magnum revolver along with his deer rifle. He had posted alongside a trail that showed some deer track and, before long, he was rewarded with the sight of a small herd of does, and they were being pursued by a pack of coyotes.

They were running silent, no howling. My buddy watched three of them, hoping to get a shot, when something off to the side caught his attention. It was a coyote and it was showing its teeth in a warning growl to the hunter. He could not get his rifle around, so he pulled out the .357 and dropped the coyote that was threatening him, plus one other. Then he turned his attention to three more that were trailing the deer. Only this time he had his deer rifle in hand and managed to put down all three, making it five dead coyotes in all.

Here in Meriden, we have had numerous sightings. One homeowner told me he has a den near his home and he was feeding them. Good luck with that. Pet owners should be VERY aware of a coyote taking their pets.

I have seen coyotes down at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club property in South Meriden. When I used to take our little dogs down to the club I would NEVER let them off the leash for fear of them being taken by coyotes. I have had reports of coyotes actually attacking people with dogs running off leash.

Pet owners should not let their beloved pets run free. If you live in a coyote area and want the pets to have access to the backyard, put in a coyote-proof fencing. Never, and I mean NEVER, feed coyotes and do not leave food scraps or dog food out where a coyote can be attracted to it.

If you see a coyote, attempt to frighten it by making loud noises, shouting, using an air horn and acting aggressively.

Also, I say this not to frighten you, but to make you more aware: There are recorded incidents of coyote attacks on children. Teach children to recognize coyotes and to go inside the house (without running) or climb up on a swing or deck and yell if they are approached.

Also be aware of and report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures and extreme lethargy. Daytime activity is not uncommon and does not necessarily indicate rabies.

To date, regulated hunting and trapping may be used to remove problem coyotes in areas where it is safe and legal to do so. Many of you might have seen an excellent article in the Meriden R-J on Jan. 27 on local trapper Don Dandelski. Don also runs D & D Wildlife Control and can be reached at 203-235-1318 if you have a wildlife or coyote issue.

The DEEP also recommends reporting coyote problems to the local Animal Control Division or DEEP Wildlife Division, the local Police Department or the DEEP Emergency Dispatch Office (24 hours) 860-424-3333.

Ice fishing

As of this writing, getting on the ice for some ice fishing has been “iffy’ at times. Now it is the center ice that can be thicker, with a thinner ice closer to shore. This means you can go through as soon as you get on the ice.

The sun is getting higher every day and this can start to rot and soften the ice. There is no fish worth dying for!

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.


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