By Ron Marr
The world’s most mellow coyote meandered across the pasture at a slow trot.
He occasionally stuck his head between rows of giant hay bales, checking for mice out of sheer habit, but on the whole, he seemed indifferent about the affair. This was a coyote after my own heart. I’m sure he would have accepted a snack without hesitation, but only if a suicidally despondent rodent offered himself up on a plate of fine China.
He wasn’t wary, and he wasn’t in a hurry, accurately assessing that my howling, growling dogs were imprisoned behind their backyard fence. He afforded but a single lackadaisical glance their way before continuing his stroll.
He paid no attention to the two horses upon whose turf he was treading. The horses were perplexed. They backed against the barbed wire fence and watched the coyote’s every move. They stood like stone statues, reminiscent of Buckingham Palace guards minus the red coats and ridiculous bearskin hats. Being utterly confused is not an unusual mode for horses, but this canid vignette left them more baffled than normal.
My first assumption, observing the scene from less-than-a-hundred-foot distance, was that the coyote must be sick. After five minutes, I revised that diagnosis. He wasn’t frothing at the mouth, twitching, tripping, or displaying odd tics. While his behavior was very un-coyote-like, he wasn’t vaguely confused or addled. I wondered if this was how coyotes act when no one is watching. We generally spot them dashing across the road or bounding over a newly harvested field, but we really have no idea how they spend their free time.
Perhaps there was nothing on TV worth watching; I’m pretty sure a discerning coyote would find little entertainment value in Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, or the endless cascade of game shows hosted by Steve Harvey. Perhaps this coyote was bored with Netflix, didn’t feel ready to kick back in the La-Z-Boy, and crack the spine of a new novel. Perhaps, when content, coyotes simply take a mid-afternoon saunter and enjoy a bit of winter sunshine.
Most people, at least those who steer clear of city lights and urban sprawl, would have plugged this coyote with their trusty 30.06 or AR-15. He was an easy target, but I’ve always had an aversion to killing things that aren’t causing me a direct problem. Taking a shot at a coyote is an instinctual reflex among virtually all the farmers, ranchers, mountain men, and hill folk I’ve known ... and I get that.
Coyotes kill calves and can make a mess of a chicken house. But, since I share space with neither cows nor cluckers, this particular coyote had caused me no offense. To the contrary, he was providing me with great amusement.
I’m not shy about whacking sick or problem critters, but my opinion on wildlife mirrors my opinion on people. It’s a live and let live scenario.
If you don’t interfere with my life, I’m not going to interfere with yours. The world would be a much better and happier place if humans and governments could grasp and adhere to this most simple of precepts (but they can’t and won’t, so don’t hold your breath).
The coyote continued his promenade for another ten minutes or so, eventually ambling toward a copse of timber surrounding a rancid mud hole that was once a shallow pond. I go there myself from time to time. The ground is etched with a multitude of tracks, a Bayeux Tapestry recording the comings and goings of raccoons, deer, rabbits, and birds. The trees are alive with the racket of manic squirrels, and dead branches crack with every step. I like it; it’s a good place in which to sit a spell, private, the antithesis of the world at large.
I’d bet money the coyote watches me.