Tim McAninley, TWU Local 567
I took off early on Friday and headed home to pack and meet my hunting compadre, Jeff. We arrived at the deer lease early, unloaded our gear and discussed the evening’s hunt. One of our hunting buds, Frank, wanted to join us for the weekend but wasn’t sure he could get away. If Frank didn’t show, I could hunt from his “condo” and be protected from the weather. I’m new to the lease, so I don’t have an enclosed deluxe blind yet. Friday evening’s hunt was a bust for both of us. With lows predicted to be in the mid-twenties for Saturday morning, I decided to hunt Frank’s condo.
On Saturday morning, our pre-dawn radio check brought news of sabotage and devastation at Jeff’s location. He found his feeder barrel on the ground and a pile of corn spilled underneath. I wished him good luck despite the circumstances and assured him CSI would be sending out a team of investigators.
I was hunting in the “condo,” protected from the cold and watching the feeder area closely. The morning was dead calm, and I felt certain I would see something on this chilly morning. Around 8:30 a.m., I heard something in the water and looked behind me to find three calves getting a drink. Not having seen much else, I watched them for a minute. I noticed that mama cow was still on dry land and staring intently toward the live oak trees. Then, a quick flash of movement caught my eye. Something was in the tall, rust colored broom weed that surrounded the tank. It wasn’t a cow, I thought, as I grabbed the binoculars.
Two coyotes were slipping through the broom weeds about 20 feet apart, slowly working their way toward the calves. Mama cow let out a guttural plea, and the calves came to her quickly. For a second, the coyotes disappeared in the broom weed and then, almost magically, reappeared at the water’s edge for a drink of their own.
The condo’s west window overlooking the tank was still down. There were two coyotes within 25 yards of me drinking water, and they were facing directly into the sun. If I could quietly open the window, it would be an easy clear shot. I could not believe my good fortune.
With my right hand, I reached for my Remington .25-06, while my left hand slowly pulled a washer tied to a string that opened the Plexiglas window. I opened the window just enough to get the gun barrel pointed outside while fidgeting to find the nail to hook the washer on and secure the window open.
I was halfway there, feeling for the nail, when I realized my scope covers were closed. I attempted a maneuver usually reserved for Chinese acrobats. Holding a tiny washer with my left hand, I balanced my rifle butt in my lap and reached to undo the scope covers. My heart was pounding hard, and I could hear blood rushing through my temples – it sounded like I was doing 90 mph on a freeway with the windows down.
My gloves added to my inability to “feel” the nail while holding the pea-sized washer. The entire time, I was transfixed on the coyotes. To that point, I had done everything quietly and by feel. I decided to glance to my left and look for the nail.
“Oh crap, there ain’t one!” I thought. “I’ll have to try a one handed shot.”
I looked back at the tank to find that they were gone. I was disgusted with myself and feeling like the most unlucky, unprepared hunter that ever walked God’s green earth. I replayed the disappointing sequence of events again and again. Sitting there dumbfounded, I reviewed my surroundings. I noticed that all the windows had nails on the left hand side, except for the west window. The nail was on the other side; I hesitate to call it the right side, but that’s where it was. A quality control inspector should have caught that.
Like a baseball pitcher facing bases loaded with a full count and no outs, I had to shake it off and get back in the game. I grabbed my binoculars and began to scan 360 degrees looking for the coyotes. They had to be somewhere. I had a predator call in my pack but decided not to call and glassed some more.
At 9:00 a.m., there came a chance at redemption. I spotted one coyote poking his head up through the weeds. He had circled the tank and now faced the other way, his back toward me. I opened the west window again, secured it on the right nail and followed the dog in my scope. He was farther away now and sneaking back toward the cattle. Then I caught sight of his companion working off the lead dog’s right flank. I focused on the lead dog and squeezed the trigger. He dropped out of sight, but I heard the bullet hit and knew he was down. I glassed for the other one but couldn’t find it. Within a few minutes, I picked him up as he circled back to check on his partner. As he crossed the barbed wire fence, I dropped him 10 feet from his mate. I felt vindicated and wholesome.
During the off-season, Jeff agreed to help me build a “condo” of my own. I can’t wait, but, I’ll guarantee you one thing, my window washers will be as large as Frisbees, and there’ll be a big nail on both sides of all my windows. I’m thankful to God for a good hunting season and the excitement that each one brings. Life is good.