Killer Coyote gets Creamed in Canyon
Our friend *&^%$#@. has lost several cats to coyotes in
the canyons of Pt. Loma. This is unacceptable since his cats did not come in a
bag of Purina Coyote Chow or as a prize in Coyote Cracker Jacks. The story
is below the photos. It is, you should pardon the expression, a "killer"
(As usual, click on the little
picture to see the big picture.)
Names, faces, beards and hats have been changed to protect our friend, who
we believe is innocent, but we're not taking any chances.
The yellow arrow
indicates the entry point.
(To any law enforcement types who may be reading this,
it is a work of fiction. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)
This yellow arrow indicates the pellet which dispatched the coyote to a
better, more hospitable place.
The famed Sumatra, gun choice of coyote hunters, everywhere.
(Well, maybe not everywhere, but certainly in San Diego.)
Sumatra vs. Coyote,
How I became an Urban Guerrilla Coyote Killer
Actually, what got me back into shooting after
many years away from the sport was the appearance of coyotes in my local SoCal
neighborhood, where they had not been seen for at least 60 years. I live on a
small pocket box canyon, about 300 yards long, 150 yd.s wide, and around 100’
deep. Yep, that makes for some steep slopes, more like cliffs covered with the
chaparral that grows all over coastal Ca. This chaparral has never burned,
either. Surrounded by houses on all sides. There’s houses on all three ‘rim’s’
of the canyon, as well as at the mouth down below. We had a nice little
mini-’ecosystem’ in there, with possums, raccoons, tiny little foxes, all
feeding on the mice and rats that live down there. No ground squirrel, no
rabbits. It was a great place for the neighbor’s and my cats to play, too, and
they helped to control the rodents as well.
Then the coyotes arrived. Nobody knows for sure why, but
it’s thought that they came down the river channel and worked their way into
the suburban streets, finding the numerous small pockets of open space like my
canyon, which they used as a place to den. The possums and foxes disappeared
quickly, followed by many cats and the raccoons. Although coyotes are supposed
to eat rodents, these ones did not seem interested in such small fry as long as
bigger, easier pickings like people’s pets and their food was available. 3 of
the semi-feral cats I was feeding disappeared. Small dogs and puppies
disappeared from 6’ fenced backyards. For the sake of all these little
critters, plus my cats and my neighbors' pets, I decided that the coyotes had
So a friend of mine gave me his Diana 24 in .177, a sweet
little gun, but it became obvious that I was gonna need more than that in
order to reach out and ‘touch’ these ‘yotes with enough force to properly
administer some real “negative reinforcement stimulus” ( this term was related
to me by a local F&G official, who recommended shouting, hand-clapping, pot
banging, throwing rocks, and finally, a “BB gun!” ). I then ordered an RWS
model 40 in .22, with leapers 3-9X40 scope. I was able to hit a target jug I
hung about 80 yd.s out with the 40, 8 out of 10 times with some practice, so I
felt a bit more ready.
Then came a night when the ‘yotes were running in force in
the canyon, and I got my girlfriend to light them up with my million power
flashlight while I aimed at the glow of their eyes. The range was a bit beyond
the 80 yd.s I was used to, and the elevation was higher, so the result was 2
misses before they ran off.
That’s what clued me in to the need for the Sumatra. The
multishot magazine would enable me to get off several shots at the varmints.
What I didn't realize was the increase in accuracy and range it would bring. I
got another Leapers’ scope for it, a 4-16X50, with IR. Of course, since I am
shooting in a neighborhood setting, care about safety and noise had to be
taken, so I established a set of ‘safe target zones’ where I could fire at the
yote’s without anyone’s house being in the line or liable to get a ricochet.
Also, being an environmentally responsible chap, I went to considerable lengths
to control all of that nasty lead dust that those of you who have fired a
Sumatra know they tend to make. With some practice, I was able to hit a ‘yote
head-sized target 110 yd.s up the canyon 5 out of 6 times from a rest, shooting
Kodiaks, with or without wind.
About then, when I was ready for ‘em, the county trapper
stepped in, due to pressure from the local politicos, and took out about 15 in
a 6 week period. Everyone was a bit blown away about how many he got,
including me, but he told me he didn't think he had gotten them all. I thought
he was being overcautious, but I kept my eyes and ears peeled , and sure
enough, about 2 months later, I found unmistakable signs of yote in the
canyon. I stepped up my security regimen with my 3 remaining ‘regular’ cats,
keeping them indoors most of the time. They began to hate me.
One morning, as I was getting dressed for work, I looked out
the window to scan the canyon below, as has become my habit, when, “holy
crap!” there was a 'yote in broad daylight with a neighbor’s cat pinned up
against the fence down below. Although the ‘yote dwarfed the cat in size, I
was surprised to see that it didn't want to just rush right in and grab the cat
from the front. Instead, it was trying to get the cat to chase it up the
canyon, or get behind it any way it could. But the cat was not buying it. it
stayed put, not daring to turn and try to run for it, as if it knew it could
never reach safety in time. I grabbed up my trusty Sumatra and jumped into the
2 B continued........
In my previous post, I left off at the point where I was
hurrying to the aid of a neighbors’ cat, under siege by the coyote who had
taken shelter in our neighborhood pocket canyon. I ran out onto my balcony,
and tried with some difficulty to sight in on the ‘yote, who was bouncing back
and forth in an effort to get the cat to turn away from it, presumably so it
could grab the cat from behind by the neck and avoid any scratch injuries to
its eyes/nose while killing it. I’m a fair shot from a rest.... as I mentioned
earlier, but here, due to the downward angle I had to shoot at, I was forced to
shoot offhand. So between the bouncing varmint and my less than perfect
offhand technique, I missed 2 shots. The ‘yote did not hear the Sumatra fire,
but it did hear the sound of the Kodiaks’ thwocking into the dirt , and it
distracted it for a few seconds, but then it turned its’ attention back to the
kitty. In hindsight it is easy to see what I should have done, which would have
been to adjust my aim and keep shooting.
But another concern of mine was regarding the fact that there
I was, standing up out in the open, like Davy Crockett at the Alamo, wielding
a large scoped rifle. Somebody in the neighborhood could easily get the wrong
idea. Instead of continuing to fire, I put down the Sumatra, picked up a
piece of brick, yelled at the ‘yote and heaved it in the varmints’ general
direction, getting it’s attention, and causing it to dive into a nearby
thicket. With the adrenaline now flowing freely, I ran out the front door and
lurched down the ice plant into the canyon ,narrowly missing the patch of
Cholla growing in its midst. When I got down there, the cat was nowhere to be
seen, but I was able to flush the ‘yote out of the thicket and up the canyon
with a barrage of rocks and unkind words.
Afterwards, not knowing for sure whether or not I had saved
the cat, I went down to the cul de sac and knocked on the door where I had
grown accustomed to seeing the cat waiting on their windowsill every morning.
As I was relating the news to them, the cat was seen on the front lawn of the
house whose back fence it had been pinned up against. The owners’ son walked
across the street, calling to it. It didn't move. Crap, I thought. It’s dead.
When the owner got within 6 feet of it, the cat suddenly raised its head. It
had been sleeping!
I wondered at the time what that cat’s chances of living another week were. The
cat’s owners were grateful for my intervention on their behalf, so that made me
feel like all was not totally in vain. As it turned out, that cat is still
alive, as of this writing.
Another development that came out of that incident was a gift
to me from a friend, of a tripod, with a nice padded ‘v’ mount, which I placed
out on the balcony, just in case.
Ten more days elapsed before my next ‘yote sighting, when I
thought I saw something moving on the far side of the canyon, above those
same houses in the cul de sac below. I took off my glasses to check thru my
binocs( like they say in Hunter Safety, NEVER use your rifle scope to scan the
distance), and yes it was the ‘yote again. I always have the Sumatra at the
ready, so I was able to pick it up and get the barrel at rest and sight in on
the area, only to have trouble seeing clearly thru my scope, which had been in
perfect adjustment for that distance. I suddenly realized that I needed to put
my glasses back on, and almost as suddenly realized that I was sitting on
them. Another opportunity lost. I began to succumb to the lure of ‘”magical
thinking”, like maybe this ‘yote has some Castaneda-like mojo going for it. It
was preferable to the truth at that point.
I got the glasses fixed, but in the meantime I reverted to
wearing my contacts, which actually correct out to much better vision at
distance than the glasses, which are an old Rx. A few days later, while wearing
the contacts, the ‘yote again showed up on that same canyon terrace, and this
time I was able to get off another couple shots, one of which made it really
jump. Good solid negative reinforcement, I figured. That night I spotted it
moving slower than usual. I thought I might have injured it, but once again it
vanished into the dark.
I wasn’t really feeling guilty about the ‘yote possibly
suffering, since after all, it or one of its’ comrades had accounted for the
disappearance of three cats I liked, and some local dogs as well. At any rate,
4 days later, in the early AM light, it was apparent that I had not done that
much damage when I saw the ‘yote come bounding out of the lower corner of the
canyon and lope over to where the Cat Incident had occurred, and start gnawing
on something that was there on the ground. You can guess what I figured that
Once again, the Sumatra was loaded, although the charge gauge
showed the needle to be just in the green, or ‘good’ range, about one mark
above the yellow, or ‘questionable ‘ zone. So as I went out onto the balcony,
I cocked the lever, and thumbed the power wheel all the way over to high,
hoping for enough pressure to send the Kodiak the 65 yards or so with enough
sting to get the ‘yotes attention. This time, I had the benefit of the tripod,
set up and waiting. I placed the Sumatra in the V, sighted in on the ‘yote,
(at about 10X), Aimed 2 mildots low to compensate for the downward angle, and
squeezed off a shot. The pellet gave off a little bit of a sizzle, which I take
to mean that it was going pretty fast.
The ‘yote didn’t yelp, or jump, or do much of anything at
all. Instead, it dropped, like a sack of wet cement. Halfway into cocking
again, I stopped too, in disbelief. Through the scope I had seen it fall,
twitch just once, and stop. That was it. And just like the A.M. of the Cat
Incident, I was in my office clothes, but being Friday, it was ‘Dockers day, so
all I had to do is take off my office shirt, throw on a t-shirt, and then go
down there, hoping that as usual nobody would take notice. I approached the
‘yote from behind, mindful of stories about animals that were just knocked out,
only to revive and bound away. In doing so, I followed along the path of the
trail that the ‘yote had worn, one that I had not checked out closely before,
since it ran right behind several homes, and I felt like I would be intruding,
even though it was outside their fences. As I approached the ‘yote on the
trail, I noticed several droppings, all of which were full of fur. Any tendrils
of remorse that were forming in my mind immediately retreated as I recognized
the source of that fur.
Upon reaching it, I observed the eyes to be open, the pupils
fully dilated, and no movement of the chest or abdomen, as in breathing . It
was dead. It was a she, just about ready to get impregnated and bear her first
litter. My Kodiak had entered her skull just below and forward to the left ear
right where ‘I aimed, a perfect brain shot. Apparently the Sumatra at
half-charge had more than enough zip.
One of my cats weighs over 20 lb.s, and the ‘yote felt about
twice his weight, so I figured she was somewhere in the 35 lb. range. I lugged
her up the canyon wall, (no easy feat), and ran down to the store to get 60
lb.s of ice, to keep her cool until the evening. I had to get to work!
That evening , my friend drove us up to our taxidermist
friend’s house, where he skinned her out for me. He also boiled out the skull,
and the nice round Kodiak hole is very evident.
Cause of death; acute
lead poisoning! On the other side there is also an exit hole. When he boiled
out the skull, he found the pellet.... it had exited the skull after passing
thru the brain, but lodged in the jaw muscle on the other side. Another
interesting find was a nice round hole in her right ear, that had begun to heal
over. Apparently my shot from a few days before had pierced her ear. Very
stylish. The pelt ought to be coming back from the tanner in a few weeks.
I learned a lot from this coyote. I guess I have them to
thank, in a way, for getting me back into shooting, which I did a lot of in my
younger days. I probably would not have gotten interested in air guns at all
if it was not for this suburban ‘yote infestation. I’m hooked now.
For now, the canyon is back to normal. This time the coyote
was a loner, and within hours of her death, I saw cats going right up to the
ledge she was living on, sniffing around. Whether they are smart or stupid, I
don’t know, but I suspect I’ll find out in a month or so, when the next ‘yote
comes around. I’ll be waiting.