January 18, 2012

Mike North: Coyotes can take your best shot

Sun-Star Executive Editor Mike Tharp sent me an email over the weekend about a coyote that was hit by a car at 75 mph -- and survived both the impact and the subsequent 600-mile drive.

I was skeptical about how this was possible, until I got a look at the pictures attached to the email, showing the "wiliest" coyote wedged in the grill of a Honda.

Even with the photographic evidence, I was still a little bewildered, but it sparked a memory of a long-ago hunting adventure that reaffirms how tough coyotes are.

Several years ago, my dad was deer hunting in Santa Clara County near a hill where our group has had success before.

The deer didn't show up, but a coyote did.

My dad pulled down for a shot and hit the coyote in the leg, opening the door for an escape, which it took.

A few years down the road, my dad and I were hunting the same area when we noticed a coyote scurrying along the hillside a couple-hundred yards away near the ridge top.

I went prone and laid my .270-caliber Remington rifle across a fallen log and took my shot at the small target.

When I squeezed off, the coyote turned and took off running down the hill right toward us.

"You missed him, shoot him again -- you missed!" my dad said while standing over top of me.

"Nah, I got him, I got him," I replied.

But as the coyote kept racing down the hill toward us, I started to wonder if I had missed my mark. I started sliding another round in the chamber of my rifle when the scavenger went down in a cloud of dust, toppling end-over-end several times.

After taking a closer look at the animal, we noticed it was missing a foot -- the coyote was the same one my dad wounded a few years back. A large section of the extremity was gone, but it had worn a new pad on the bottom of its leg where the rest had come off.

We were both amazed and in awe of the animal, which was tough enough to shake off its wound and adapt to a new lifestyle with one less foot.

Except for that injury, the coyote was a beautiful, healthy creature.

Of course, we hate to wound an animal, and we rarely do.

But when you're matched up against game that's more cunning than you, it's sometimes going to pull a disappearing act and survive regardless of where you shoot it ... or where you smash it with your car.

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