I've had coyote and hog encounters on turkey hunts around the country (and closer to home). As for many, sometimes it ruins the hunt. Other times, it becomes the hunt – or part of it.
Texas. A bright-eyed but toothsome head popped up in range where we thought a turkey might. I’d been calling steadily on a mouth diaphragm. The coyote paused, looking hard at us, as I whispered to the high-school football player guiding me and a buddy on the land: “Shoot him?”
“You’d be doing the rancher a favor,” he said.
Fifteen minutes later we called a screaming suicidal turkey down the hill to his certain death and my buddy shot it. Do gun blasts spook birds? Not this gobbler.
Dances with Coyotes
Coyotes. They seem to shadow me while chasing turkeys – spring and fall. Once, while Vermont fall turkey hunting with my late-great turkey dog Midge, she paused in a twisted “birdy” point.
“Woodcock?” I asked my bud. “Probably grouse,” he flatly responded.
No more than 10 steps off her nose, a coyote sniffed along, no doubt “mousing,” just past the multi-flora rose between us and the skinny game trail. She'd pointed a 'yote.
As he turned to ask, “Should I dust’m?” I answered with a shotgun bark. It ran off. During the deer season that followed, he found the dead coyote dismantled by others – so much for reverence of the dead.
Why did I shoot? My Midge had been bitten in the rear right leg by a Maine coyote the year before – the infected wound swelled up like a tennis ball implant – and I wasn’t taking any chances.
Turkey hunting can be tough. You can push hard for birds, encounter henned-up spring flocks and situations where killing a turkey seems downright impossible. It can also be easy, and you'll find yourself suddenly tagged out. Both situations seem to promote hog hunting.
Florida. Texas. California. Spot-and-stalk. Hogs with dogs. Rifle hunts. These states and others offer opportunities.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.