Coyotes are intelligent. They adapt. When they figured out that does had moved closer to the woods around our house to raise their fawns, they began to move closer, too.
A few weeks ago, Buck was out on the venerable Case tractor bushhogging the clearing and food plots prior to disking them to get ready for fall planting. It was the middle of the day. You know how you sometimes can feel like you're being stared at? He got that feeling, looked out over the tractor, and saw a healthy young adult coyote, standing in the shade of a scrub oak, looking in his direction. Buck idled the tractor, and they had a brief stare-off, until the coyote calmly turned and melted back into the woods.
Until the past few weeks, it has been a rarity to see coyote droppings between our house and the gate. It's fairly common out on the fireline roads and is easily distinguishable from that of dogs or other critters, mainly because it's full of hair. (Click here if you want to see photos of the real thing from Kim Cabrera's Animal Tracks web site. Don't click if you don't!) Lately, though, Buck, Maggie and I practically have to hopscotch our way carefully down the gravel road to avoid it. Clearly, they are frequenting this area of the property, even though there is only a narrow band of woods between the gravel road and other houses that front on the main, public road.
I am listening to the welcome rumble of thunder as I type, and hope it will materialize into a good rain. We have had a long streak of gorgeous, dry, sunny days that have turned the grass to tinder and the dirt to dust. Buck and Harold haven't been able to plant the clearing and food plots to wheat, oats and rye. Usually, by now the tender young green shoots have already emerged.
This morning about 6:45, I saw a doe and twin spotted fawns feeding under the big oak out front. She stepped over into the dry, disked ground and looked toward the house. I imagined it was an acusatory look. "Where's my salad?"
A couple of days ago, in the late morning, Buck called to me to come look out near the bird feeder. Several deer meandered by a big oak that survived Hurricane Ivan and looks healed completely now. Thought you might like to see them, too. (Photos taken through a half-glass back door.)