Don't worry my fair-hearted liberal friends...no animals were killed in the creation of this post. Actually, no animals have ever been harmed when I join Danish Cowboy on his evening coyote calls...
Canis latrans, more commonly known as the coyote (two syllables, silent "e" at the end, please) is a common resident of the prairie. He feeds on a multitude of foods ranging in size from grasshoppers to lambs, the latter of which has made him an enigma to the modern day rancher. While we don't have sheep on our place and the coyotes generally tend to leave the newborn calves alone, Danish Cowboy was taught years ago by a friend how to call coyotes in from miles away.
Which was fine for us because my little gal is all about the self-portrait and the examining of rocks for cool specimens and not so much about patience and weird animal calls and scanning many square miles of wildness for that proverbial needle in a haystack.
So at this point on a coyote calling expedition, you are still waiting. You perhaps let out another "Yip! Yip! Howl!" on the call. If you're lucky and are well versed in coyote-speak, the animals that are out there will answer back. Listening carefully to the series of barks, howls and yips that they reply with can tell you what they know. They might be telling one another they've found food or trouble. They might merely be saying hello to see if any of their tribe is nearby. I've sat on the edge of a coulee with Danish Cowboy and his friend while they conversed with multiple animals for half an hour after the sun went down. It's not all about the kill, folks.
The winter sun expires far too early and far too fast in the middle of December and our luck ran out. No coyotes came at us this particular evening and Danish Cowboy was resigned to merely taking his gun for yet another walk in the hills.
Had a coyote or two come running in to the gentlemen that evening, my son was prepared for the detail work. At four years of age, he has perfected the squeal of a dying rabbit. Apparently this call along with a small "mouse" squeaker that probably came out of some cheap dog toy is irresistible to a coyote and will bring him running without fear towards the lair that has been set up unbeknownst to him.
I'm not at heart a hunter. I never will be. But these late afternoons spent on the hilltops, reading the world around us, are irreplaceable. You hear the coyote calls, both real and contrived, echo across the land and the silence in between is deafening. If a coyote is venturing your way, a magpie will often follow (a bird which is a rare sighting in this part of the state and a delight for me to see as I so enjoyed them when I was in Missoula). You watch the sun go down, you have time to observe your surroundings. You see traditions passed from father to son, mother to daughter. You learn about your world and it is easy to connect with it when you're talking the same language as the animals around you.