Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Bird Dogs, Coyotes, and Bears... Oh My!
Saturday morning, Jack and I decided to chase some prairie chickens in the Flint Hills -- mainly as an excuse to get out and exercise LuLu and Vegas. We were about a half-mile into our first walk, and the dogs were running a hundred yards or so out in front. As we crested a hill, I was taking in the peaceful sunrise.
"Dad, what's that?!?" my son Jack exclaimed, with a bit of fright in his voice. And for good reason. Up ahead, there was a coyote in full sprint just ten feet behind an oblivious LuLu, and closing fast. Equally as troubling was the second 'yote closing in on my young pointer 50 yards ahead of her.
Instinctively, I hollered and fired a round into the air. I called LuLu in, and once she realized what was happening, she obediently started coming in to me. I was closing the distance as I broke my gun and dropped in another 7 1/2 (only then did I realize this load wasn't ideal coyote medicine).
"Rack a shell, Jack!"
By this time, the devil dogs had stopped their active pursuit, but at 70 yards away, they were obviously not interested in leaving. I aimed a few inches over the lead coyote and pulled the trigger, peppering his ass with birdshot. That finally persuaded the duo to move on.
Close call! What's even more interesting is that I got an email from Dan, my Minnesota grouse hunting buddy, with a similar story on the very same day:
...Got out to the "island" where the birds are and was walking up to that huge lone poplar tree and noticed a bunch of dirt at the base. About that same instant Mocha ran up and with both feet at the top of the mound went from 60 mi hour to a dead stop. I was about 15 feet away when a very large black bear head appeared.
I have to tell you it is a bit unnerving staring a black bear in the eye from 15 feet away when all you have is a double barrel full of 7.5 bird shot. I have seen a fair number of bear in the woods over the years but usually it is a view of their butt going the other way running from the dogs and in those instances it is just a cool sight of nature to see. Seeing one raise its head when it potentially feels cornered in its own den by dogs, was a completely different feeling.
I had a few seconds when I actually considered what the odds were if the bear charged the dog, and the dog runs back to me? Do I shoot my son's dog and hope the bear stops for her or do I risk trying to shoot a bear with bird shot? Thankfully we were able to back out of there quickly and the bear stayed put.
Next time I go across that slough I'm going to let you ponter guys get a little ahead of me before we reach the island!
Anyone else out there have any close calls with dangerous, toothy critters? Any advice? I used to carry a couple rounds of buckshot in my vest, but I took them out several seasons ago (accidentally chambering one on a bobwhite quail is not pretty). I think I'm putting them back in my inventory.
Be careful out there, everyone.