It’s a clear crisp morning as the old truck lights the way to the woods. Cold is not the word of the day. Down right freezing is a better term. It had been warm for two weeks with no snow. The past two days have been terrible, most of the state was shut down. The storm finally broke some time last night. Now with a new blanket of snow on the ground and the temp well below zero, it should be good day for hunting.
With no wind and the cold setting in, I was hoping the coyotes would be on the move this morning. I turned the truck off the road to an old snow covered gravel road and shut off the truck and lights. The darkness takes a hold and the quietness consumes the woods. With dawn a half hour a way I get ready in the dark. I have a long walk to the first stand. As I pull my hunting cloths from their bag, clean and scent free, I think of all the things that need to be done. I still spray them down with a scent eliminator, as scent is a big deal here. We can’t see coyotes coming for a mile, like out west.
With everything ready to go I start my hike to my first stand of the day. Getting closer to the stand I slow down, making sure to be as quiet as I can. At the stand, I get ready to start. I hear a pack of coyotes start up about a half mile away, running something. As the coyotes fade in the cold morning I smile and grab my howler, giving a locator call. I finish and the old dog howls back. I give him a challenge howl and the old coyote steps on my call; he’s on his way. I turn on the tape of a dying rabbit, breaking the stillness of the morning. I scan the wood line on the otherside of the little lake for movement. The cloud from my breath is the only thing moving. I continue waiting and watching for signs of movement. They’re in the timber, one, two, three, all on a dead run for breakfast. They’re coming in, two hundred yards, one hundred yards, and then fifty yards. As the first coyote stops to take a look the sound of the dying rabbit is drowned out by the crack of my rifle. The first coyote hits the ground. I bolt up another round as the other two turn the jets on for the next county. I grab the howler and start in like I just slammed my dog’s tail in the car door. The two coyotes stop and turn to take a look, I squeeze the trigger on the rifle as the second coyote hits the snow-covered lake. As I Turn off the tape, the quietness comes back to the cold crisp woods.
Coyote hunting in the state of Wisconsin is diverse. It has rolling hills and farmlands in the south and heavy timber of the north. Coyotes here are pressured not by hunting, but by humans being in the woods and living in the woods. Coyotes know to stay a way from us. The sound of a car or the slamming of a truck door will send them running.
Sound and scent is a big thing for us here. Just the smell of a human will send them running. Being still is another thing; here we don’t have miles and miles of land to look at when we make a stand. Down south you can see for a half mile, but up here in the big timber you’re doing good if you can see three hundred yards.
Most of the hunting we do up here is hunting openings, cuts, pipelines, power lines and lakes in the winter. If something’s not right your not going to see a thing. The coyotes here will come in but you will not see them. Everything has to be right to get a shot. Guys out west may see coyotes on every set, but here we may make ten sets to see one coyote. There are days when we may make two sets, and see four. Days like the one in the story is just one of them days. Getting everything right is a big thing here. The important things are Getting a way in and out, wear full camo, be scent free and the rest is just finding them.