Monday morning of this past week, I set out early to the pecan orchard property to cut a few Siberian Elm limbs and some cat brier for Emma and Ronnie deer. In the distance along the old river channel dike, I saw the dead coyote that FD shot Saturday, still intact, hanging on the fence. It is common practice in these parts to hang a dead coyote on a fence to deter other coyotes from coming into the area. I hoped it would be effective, as I did not care if I ever saw another coyote in my life. I had been convinced for several years now that Daisy had lost most of her fawns to coyotes. And, every so often, I would spot one slinking through the bottom area of the canyon just beyond the slope behind our back porch. Also, I had spotted them a few times on my walks to the river, just a half of a mile from our home.
As is usual for me, I was in a hurry this morning and had a lot to get done. When I stopped the buggy near the area where I planned to cut the Siberian Elms for Emma and Ronnie, I heard a strange, dog-like call. Not sure if it was a domestic dog running loose nearby or a coyote, I waited and listened. There it was again. Four barks, followed by a long, wailing howl. Two more times I heard it, and I was sure it was a coyote. Curious, I walked carefully and quietly as I could, back to the west where the howl was coming from. Fortunately, the ground was damp and the leaves were quiet beneath my boots, but the breeze was not on my side as it was carrying my human scent in the direction of the cry. But soon, the barking and howling stopped altogether.
Intent on getting to the bottom of the mysterious canine calls I heard the previous day, I set out early again Tuesday morning. A cold front would be moving in by late Wednesday, and I needed to pick as many acorns from an oak tree as I could before the wind got up. Emma and Ronnie had been eating acorns about as fast as we could pick them! Until the crop ran dry, I had not realized how lucky I was to have my mom-in-law’s acorns to pick from an oak tree in her yard earlier in the month. FD and I had picked the nuts from the tree until we could no longer reach them while standing on top of the buggy. Those were nice, medium-sized acorns and, other than competing with squirrels to snag them up, it had been easy picking to harvest them. In contrast, the oak tree I had located on the west end of the pecan orchard property produced only tiny acorns. They were a third the size of what I was getting at my mom-in-law’s. As I picked the tiny acorns, first plucking them from the bottom limbs, and then climbing on the carriage rack on top of the buggy to reach the higher limbs, I kept an eye out for coyotes. On one of my visual scans, I happened to notice I had parked the buggy well within a thick outcropping of branches, positioning myself not two feet from a rather big nest of wasps! Fortunately, it was a calm and cool morning and the wasps were just beginning to move about when I saw them. Carefully, I discarded the idea of picking in “their” spot on the tree, and moved over about six feet. Not surprisingly, my pace picked up a bit after that!
Again on Wednesday, I traveled to the oak with the tiny acorns to finish harvesting what I could reach. The cold front would hit that night bringing wind and rain with it. Besides the coming weather, I had noticed the acorn nuts were already separating from the cupule or cup (the little cap on top) and, if I waited any longer, I would miss the chance to harvest acorns from the tree. Picking them up off the ground would be extremely difficult with the Bermuda grass in that area being knee-deep. Though that might work for deer in the wild, it certainly would not be possible for this human deer mother! Again, while I plucked acorns, I watched all around for movement of the coyote I had heard two days before. But all was quiet in the woodlands.
Thursday morning, I made my elm run between the time the cold front moved in and the time that rain would be arriving – probably within an hour or two. I took a different route this time, just to keep things interesting. I planned to head to the north end of the pecan orchard and see if there was any trash to pick up that might have blown through the fence when the north wind picked up. I had not traveled very far, when I saw something move just to my left. My brain registered “dog” but my gut overrode with “coyote”. My gut was right. And, fortunately, I had listened to my gut early that morning before I headed out when it said, “Take your camera”, even though I did not want to, as I planned only a quick trip since it was blustery and cold. And rain was approaching – I never took my good camera and zoom out in the rain. But, I also knew how many times I regretted not listening to that inner voice, and so I packed it along. And I am glad that I did.
The coyote I saw that morning was twice the size of the one FD shot last weekend. It was moving away from the area where the dead coyote hangs on the fence. And the barking I heard on Monday, came from just a bit west of this same spot. Also, a neighbor to the south has recently spotted up to four coyotes at a time in his backyard – approximately two-hundred yards from where I saw the large coyote. It was now obvious that we have a coyote problem. But I say, the coyotes now have a people problem, as I am watching… and waiting… like a predator.
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