Inside MDT - Coyote School - After The Storm

Posted by Al Voth on 2023 Jan 26th

Inside MDT - Coyote School - After The Storm

Editor's Note: Coyote School is a multi-part series intermixed with knowledge, adventure, and wisdom. The series's first, second, and third parts can be found here. Coyote School: Death and Rebirth. Coyote School: Deception. Coyote School - The Easy Path

Coyotes eat to live, but they must successfully hunt before eating. It's good that I don't have to rely purely on wild game because I would likely starve to death. It reminds me of the quip identifying the word vegetarian as an old First Nations word for lousy hunter. Interestingly, there are no coyote vegetarians. That tells us something about their hunting abilities.

As good as they are at hunting, coyotes don't always eat regularly. Like all hunters, they have varying degrees of success, and the weather determines how well things go for them. I suspect they prefer moonlit nights with moderate temperatures and steady breezes. Not only is their prey out and moving about at such times, but they can use their sight, smell, and hearing to maximum advantage. However, when the storm rolls, black clouds cover the sky, temperature plummets, and rain and snow turn horizontal; that's when all coyotes turn into temporary vegetarians.

More: Hunting In Inclement Weather

In other words, they don't eat. They can't; not only is the prey not moving, but howling winds blast odors into the next county and completely obscure any chance of hearing that rustle in the grass signaling a quick meal. At the same time, clouds, snow, and rain turn the world darker than the inside of a cow, rendering sight useless. That's when coyotes hole up just like their prey and wait out the storm. Their bellies turn flat and empty, but they wait it out in the knowledge hunting will be good once it stops.

More: Tips for Cold Weather Shooting

After a storm, the snow can be deep, but the hunting is excellent, making snowshoes a hunter's best friend.

After a storm, the snow can be deep, but the hunting is excellent, making snowshoes a hunter's best friend.

People are a lot like the weather. Mostly, they are calm, peaceful, and relatively predictable. Sometimes, however, they become raging storms of anger. When that happens, trying to deal constructively with them can be as pointless as hunting in a blizzard. Not only is it tough to avoid getting caught up in those ugly feelings yourself, but trying to reason with someone when they are wrapped in a surge of raw emotion is essentially pointless. The best you can hope for is to keep them from doing something stupid or dangerous. Other than that, you're better off waiting for the storm to blow over. Like coyote hunting, it's usually best to lay low while the storm rages. Once it's over, your chance of accomplishing something worthwhile will improve dramatically.

That's a lesson Coyote School teaches early to the attentive hunter. Unfortunately, major storms don't follow our schedules and blow in for a day or two just before planned hunts. However, I've found it's worth keeping a few days available every season so a hunter can bail from work and take advantage of those hot times after a storm.

Some years ago, an early December storm reinforced that lesson. It shrieked into our county around noon, choking off most of the daylight in thirty minutes. The wind rocked our three-story building, sharpening itself on the concrete and steel and turning snowflakes into projectiles. In short order, my workplace emptied out as people scrambled to get home while they still could. Things didn't improve the next day, and again we shut down in submission to nature. Then, overnight the storm exhausted itself and the morning sun rose to illuminate a landscape of sparkling white canopied by a bluebird sky. Everybody went back to work but me. I went coyote hunting.

A quick double was the reward for a morning hunt after an all-night storm.

The plows had been out overnight, getting roads open for school buses, so driving around wasn't too bad. When I left the truck, I needed snowshoes to stay on top of the snow, but the storm had packed it hard enough that coyotes didn't. That kept them mobile, and they were already hungry. They came to my call in singles, packs of four, and everything in between. They scampered out of nearby brush-filled draws and crossed mile-wide flats to get at my pretend rabbit. But they all had one thing in common, they came straight and fast. Hunger will do that.

By the time I had to go home, there were five coyotes in the truck, and it was a better Wednesday than I would have had at work. It happened only because I recognized the opportunity and adjusted my schedule to the storm.

People's emotional storms of anger usually don't fit comfortably into our schedules. Not that there's ever a convenient time for these unless it's just as we're walking out the door on some urgent mission, which can't be delayed. Or better yet, they are. Ever notice how much more pleasant it is when angry people leave?

A rifle that can survive the elements is crucial to winter hunting.

A rifle that can survive the elements is crucial to winter hunting.

But enough about them, what about ourselves? When we get caught up in anger, do we have enough sense to walk away and wait for the calm? Too often, we don't. Instead, we get caught up in the emotion of the moment and go out looking to inflict maximum damage on others. Coyote School reminds us that nothing positive gets accomplished during the storm. Wait it out. Let it blow over. Leave. Far more can be achieved after the tempest than during it.



Al Voth calls himself a "student of the gun." Retired from a 35-year career in law enforcement, including nine years on an Emergency Response Team, he now works as an editor, freelance writer, and photographer, in addition to keeping active as a consultant in the field he most recently left behind—forensic firearm examination. He is a court-qualified expert in that forensic discipline, having worked in that capacity in three countries. When he's not working these days, you'll likely find him hunting varmints and predators (the 4-legged variety).


Recently viewed