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Walter Scott's Outdoors: Dogs' last call until morning when coyotes come around

Keep the dogs at home when coyotes around this time of year. Females have either just had their pups or are getting ready to do so, and males are protecting their territory.

Columnist Walter Scott
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Last night, I let the dogs out for their last opportunity to do whatever they needed to do before bedtime.

Jag, the terrier, who had been sleeping on his bed in the garage after a hard day of guarding the place from attacking deer and squirrels, was still ready to go. Billie, the poodle, had been sleeping on the couch, exhausted from a hard day of playing ball, was not so anxious.

Billie moseyed toward the door while Jag danced on his hind legs waiting to get out. When I opened the garage door, it sounded almost like a scream coming from somewhere nearby.

The dogs, on full alert at the sound, both shot out into the darkness. It was one of those, “what the heck was that?” moments as I stepped outside.

Immediately, I heard a coyote calling from near the south side of the house. That call was quickly answered by the another down by the garden.

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A chorus of coyote calls erupted in unison as I stepped into the darkness trying to see what was going on. Billie was facing the garden at the limit his collar would allow, barking ferociously. The sound of Jag’s barking was rapidly getting fainter as he chased off into the blackness.

At this time of year, coyotes can be very aggressive. The females have either just had their pups or are getting ready to do so. The males are protecting their territory and the females are attempting to gain weight to nourish the nursing pups.

I can only guess at the motivation of two groups of coyotes getting this close to our house. Either our house is located at the edge of the territory claimed by two competing families, and it was a territorial dispute, or they thought they could drive the dogs out of what they claimed as theirs. Either way, I did not want the dogs to get involved.

I was able to call Billie back to me as I ran back into the house to grab a gun. My wife held him back while I ran back out into the yard and fired off a couple of rounds from my .45.

The coyotes got quiet, and I called for Jag. The little dog, being a terrier, has more courage than sense. He is convinced that he is the toughest animal around. He is wrong.

He would not have a chance against one coyote, and this was a group of several. I called for several minutes but to no avail. I went back into the house, hoping the gun shots scared the coyotes off and Jag could not catch up with them.

If he did meet up with them somewhere out there in the darkness, he would not be coming home. I explained to my wife what was going on. She is well aware of Jag's hunting determination and understood the consequences if he did not come back soon. I waited about 15 minutes and went back out to see if he was back.

When he was not waiting at the door to go back to his bed, I was thinking the worst. I called a few times and listened. I heard nothing.

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I was ready to face the inevitable that Jag had pushed his luck too far when the little black dog appeared out of the dark night. He was panting with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, but he was unscathed and happy as he could be.

He got a drink and plopped down in his bed, all proud of himself for protecting us from the coyotes. The dogs did not get to go out again after that. If they had missed last call, it would have to wait until morning.

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Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.

Related Topics: HUNTINGMINNESOTA
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
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