This mourning I woke up early with the intent of hunting predators. I went to the usual spot while the landscape was still pitch black. The temp was 40*F, not my ideal conditions, but I thought I would give it a go anyways. I was hoping luck would be on my side.
My first stand was about a half mile walk to a small swamp pond where I have often heard coyotes howling when calling in other areas of the creek system. The brush was dense and required a headlamp to cautiously and quietly make my way through the woods to the edge of the pond. I set up the electronic caller about 100 feet from where I was sitting. The woods were to my back, the pond directly in front of me, while the wind blew from my right to left. I am sitting in tall grass, but not too tall to see and shoot over, with a variety of spaced out saplings. To add a margin of safety I sat with a stump to my back which was shielded by thick saplings.
The caller is singing the dinner bell song and I am sitting motionless, looking for any takers. In intervals I pause the ecaller to focus on the landscape, hoping something worth while pops out and onto the pond. At this time I hear something, behind me, waking through the brush. The sound of something or someone walking through low laying brush is unmistakable. It sounded to be a safe distance away, to the right and behind me roughly 20 feet. I thought I may have called in an animal and it took a game trail behind me. I stick to my guns and continue to sit, motionless.
Again, I am playing DJ and letting the e-caller scream away, waaah, waah, waaahh. Snap! I pause the e-caller. Whatever is behind me stepped on a twig, but now it is closer behind me and sounded to be within a few dozen feet. At this point I am on edge. There I sit, by myself, armed with a .223 and my 44 mag under my camo coverups. I am on edge, the adrenaline has exploded through my body, and my heart is about to jump out of my chest.
No less than a minute has passed from the last snap. I am leery to start the e-caller again, I am listening for whatever may be behind me. BANG! This was no twig being step upon, this was a solid crunch that a forearm sized tree limb could compose. I know of no coyote that could squeeze this kind of noise from a tree like that. The clatter is close, too close, and within closer to my back.
I feel as if I have been shot out of a cannon.
Now, the farthest thing from my mind is scanning the geography for small fury critters. The possibility of a large toothy creature to my back far outweighs any pelt I may spot. Three items now consume my mind. First, Back Country Rob who spotted a bear print in the snow only a few weeks ago in the same valley. Second, my wife, you shouldn’t hunt alone. Third, and finally, zipp down the coverups and draw your side arm, NOW.
The zippers down, the 44 is drawn, I stand up, turn 180*, and I am scanning the pitch black for a four legged beast salivated over my scent. This area is heavily traveled on the weekend, I keep this in mind knowing I cannot blindly shoot at an unidentified outline in the brush. If, in fact, it is a bear, I have to positively identify the animal before I even thinking about discharging the firearm in the name of self protection.
Nothing, I see absolutely nothing, but darkness and the faint hint of erratically spaced out snow drifts covering the ground. I hear, whatever it was, racing down the game trail in the opposite direction.
Time to inspect the trail I believe the animal used. With my headlamp revealing the narrow path I see coyote tracks, fox tracks, and wolf tracks, all of which have beaten this little trail down to a fine crust. No bear tracks! On the frozen creek and up from this game trail I see fresh wolf tracks heading to the bank and onto the trail and towards the direction of where I was calling.
I have never been charged by no animal of any sorts, but this was by far the most intense animal/human situation I have ever been apart of.