Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dinner On The Run: Coyote Food

We live in Leipers Fork TN, a small unincorporated village just to the west of Franklin, TN, which is itself about 15 miles or so south of Nashville. We love the area- its real country with rolling wooded and pastured hills, forests, and many creeks and rivers, along with an abundance of wildlife.

We often hear coyotes in the distance howling at the moon, at each other, or whatever is getting them agitated. Sometimes they trade barbs with a gang of dogs that live about a mile down the road at a dog breeder’s home.

One night about 8pm we heard some particularly loud howling and barking, particularly close. I grabbed a flashlight, turned on the outside lights, and stepped out onto our back deck. As I shone the light around the backyard I caught a glimmer of what could only be a set of animal eyeballs at the tree-line about 150 yards or so to the back. I focused on that area and counted a total of three sets.

They were a few feet apart, facing me, and moving slowly closer. Just then, a black shape caught my eye about ten feet below and that many away- I looked down to see the source of interest for the pack of coyotes- a small slender black cat, creeping with it’s belly to the ground and deathly wide eyes, glancing back towards the coyotes every few seconds.

The cat, for the purpose of this story I will call him Dinner, did not have a collar, and looked to be just about a year old. Not a kitten, but not a fast and resourceful battle cat either. Dinner would be just that, dinner.

Michelle came out to see what was going on and we both called Dinner to come closer. Michelle’s sister is a vet, and a champion of lost causes, and we figured we would give Dinner shelter for the night and bring it to Jackie’s clinic the next day. Dinner would have nothing of us. He, or she, kept on the move, keeping constant contact with the grass, and headed around the house and towards the side tree-line. The pursuers were starting to split up, preparing to flank and then charge Dinner.

I started to yell at the coyotes and shine the flashlight wildly around them, but it only caused them momentary pause before continuing the hunt. They were closing in fast on Dinner.

I remembered hearing, or reading (or maybe not- I can’t recall for sure) that coyotes will not attack a grown person, even if they are in numbers. So I did the only thing I could do, not having a firearm with me at the time- I walked down the stairs to the killing field, and with the flashlight shining upwards onto my face, started running at the coyotes screaming like a banshee fool with my free arm flailing about. Michelle was screaming too, but not at the coyotes.

It worked. I scared the coyotes out of their skins. I heard a yelp, and they scattered so fast one of them fell down. They bolted for the back tree-line, as Dinner, equally as frightened by the large and insane man that entered the playing field, finally lifted itself off the ground and ran for dear life towards the front of our property. By the time the drama was over, the two parties where at least 1000 feet apart- it was the best I could do to protect Dinner.

I stayed on the deck another fifteen minutes or so making sure the coyotes did not make a return appearance. They didn’t. I headed in hoping Dinner would make it alive until breakfast.

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DigitalRich said...

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