Cochise County, Arizona. Once alarmed, just how fast can a Mearns coyote go from zero to warp speed from a napping start? Our night vision monocular, a Bushnell Equinox Z monocular/camera/camcorder, provided the answer tonight.
Note: If the text bores you, feel free to scroll down to the video immediately.
For some time, we hadn’t even been sure our beloved female coyote, Angel, was even still with us. It had been a long time since she’d come in before full darkness had set, communing with my wife at fairly close range (30 feet or less) and with me at what she felt was a safer distance (30 yards or more). We knew at least one coyote was still in the area, but we’d only been catching a quick glimpse here and there, always at dusk, never enough for firm identification.
That all changed when we bought the Bushnell. Angel showed up the very first night I used it, though she scooted on out of there when the javelina herd came trooping through a few minutes later. There was no doubt she knew I was there; the red IR illuminator light is more than obvious and would have had her diving for cover if she hadn’t known full well it was me behind it. The breeze was toward her, too; her sensitive nose could undoubtedly identify me easily enough.
She drifted on through the next evening, too, though the javelinas showed up even quicker that night and she wasn’t around for long. But she’d come alone both times; we had no idea if she still had a family or not.
Tonight showed us that she did.
First, the entire three-coyote family showed up, providing me with some excellent footage I may use in another post. Next, to my surprise, the baby of the family–most likely born last year, judging by the animal’s size (close to a match for Mom and Dad) plus the clear submissive posture to the parents. In a nutshell, the youngster said, “The heck with nosing around for food or good smells or, since I’m a coyote teenager, whatever. I’m going to take a nap.” And she did. (Gender not determined, but we’re calling this one a female until further notice.)
I let the video clip run for another minute, ended that recording, and shifted the aim of the scope/camcorder to the recumbent pup. This caught her attention; when that night vision IR red light is moving around, it would get anybody’s attention, especially when the focus is shifting to stare you right in the eye. She’d been napping some, but it took her a while to decide to ignore the red light. However, Mom and Dad weren’t freaking out about it, even though they do know enough to think “RIFLE!” and duck out of sight if they’re not sure it’s me. I once caught the eye shine of a coyote (probably Angel) at a range of nearly 200 yards, with me up on our water tower, and she didn’t wait long at all (two seconds at most) to reverse rapidly, disappearing into the brush. I didn’t see her again for the rest of that night.
Okay. It’s not like I stayed out there all night or anything. But I was filming javelinas at the time and did hang around for at least another hour or so.
Bottom line, it took Junior (Juniorette?) more than three minutes to fully relax after I turned the camera on her. The image has this “ocean current” effect running through it that only happens when the digital zoom is applied, but hey. We’re going for observation and education here, not art. Also, I try to limit my clips to around four minutes each, a decent length for a YouTube video (in my opinion, anyway)…and I got lucky. Right near the four minute mark, the pup becomes suddenly and obviously alarmed…and eventually rockets up and outa there from a lying start.
My conclusion? Don’t ever try drag racing with a coyote.
Not long after this clip was filmed, I gave it up for the evening, turned off the night vision monocular, and turned on the little rechargeable flashlight I use to make sure I don’t step on a snake during my short walk back to the Border Fort.
Until I turned on the light, the older coyotes were still willing to hang around for a while, posing for home movies…but I didn’t figure I could beat this one.