Ears! All of my senses are on alert, as are the coyote’s. He stands in the sagebrush only thirty feet from my hiding place among these giant six foot tall sagebrush. His ears are all I can see through the thick brush. For the last few hours I have been calling on my rabbit in distress call and waiting for just this kind of an opportunity. I can feel the worn leather grip of my longbow in my left hand, the string taught against the fingers of my right as I patiently wait for the coyote to make the next move. The wind is steady out of the North West and is in my favor. The sun is setting off to my right, casting the final shadows of the day along the frozen Wyoming ground, and the sweet smelling sage is effectively hiding me from the stealthy predator still standing behind a sage brush, thirty feet away. Finally, Old Wiley steps quickly onto the trail which will bring him only feet from my concealed position. At eleven feet away, he stops and looks back along the route from which he has just come. I bring the bow to full draw, releasing the arrow into his fur covered body. With deadly force the razor sharp broad head exit’s the coyote and lodges into a sage brush stalk as thick as my leg. The bloody, quivering shaft the only visible reminder of the coyote having been there at all.
I rise from the ground with an arrow knocked to the string of my Osage bow. I can still hear the coyote thrashing around in the underbrush about fifty yards from where he met with my arrow. As I advance on his lifeless body; with my bow in front of me and arrow knocked in case he is not as dead as he seems, I reflect on all the arrows I have been fortunate to release while in pursuit of wild creatures. Sometimes the arrows fly true, sometimes they go wherever the bow hunting gods guide them, often never to be seen again. No matter the outcome of the hunt regarding a kill, the outcome for me is almost always the same. I thoroughly enjoy myself! And more often than not, I find myself with a strong feeling of spiritual awareness, combined with a longing to return to these wild places even before I have left them for the confines of civilization.
I shoulder the beautiful coyote, heft the bow in my opposite hand, and begin the long walk back to the pickup. Night time is coming soon. I hear the plaintive call of a distant coyote in the ensuing darkness and can’t help but wonder if it is really a coyote, or maybe the spirit of the one who came to my calls today, bidding me farewell. No matter if it be a spirit, or the real thing, the small hairs along my neck have already risen, along with an involuntary shiver down my spine. This has been good day bow hunting, and will surely be a long walk through the miles of darkness. I grip the medicine bag around my neck and say a quick prayer to the creator for protection against the spirit of the “trickster” coyote before setting off through the black night.