Most nights we can hear the coyotes in the river bottom, howling, yipping, cussing and breaking bottles. Some nights we hear them up close to the house, less than 100 feet away in the lemon orchard, ripping, snorting, murdering small creatures with glee.
Last night I decided to drop in on the coyotes in their own living room and let them know I didn’t appreciate their orgies so close to the family home. So I laced up my hiking boots and grabbed my handy Eddie Bauer telescoping coyote whapper and headed for the river.
First thing I noticed was that it’s very hard to see in the dark. Lights on the horizon played tricks with my night vision. Black shadows moved everywhere. Dementors began stalking me just fifty yards from my front door.
Second thing I noticed..I make a ton of noise when I walk. Because sound travels more slowly in the dark the night was very quiet. The only sound for miles came from my fat thighs slapping and my boots in loose gravel. All in all it was like eating Grape Nuts during a lute recital. If anything was following in the shadows I’d be none the wiser. Until it was too late.
Walking along the bank of the Santa Clara river I heard some coyotes barking up a ruckus a few minutes behind me. My tiny luxeon flashlight turned up nothing but empty road. I hoped the coyotes were happy in the arroyo dining on frogs. Rather, I hoped the coyote yipping didn’t translate to “dude! I smell tri-tip!”
Note to self: brush teeth before wandering off into coyote-ville.
Some people have been complaining about the coyote population in Ventura county during recent months. Just wait until pupping time during April and May when coyotes turn surly. More mouths to feed. More mayhem in the den. It would make any sane person want to run out and bite something.
I haven’t seen any particular increase in coyote activity over the past few years. There was a dead coyote in the road about four years ago. All I know is that our garage has been delightfully rat-free for the past three years. I don’t want the coyotes to clear out. I just want them to keep the noise down when the dogs are trying to sleep.
Most wildlife experts will tell you that coyote attacks on humans are quite rare–just three or four in any given year, spread across the entire North American continent. Varmit Al begs to differ. Coyote attacks are at an unprecedented level. Maybe as many as three or four in a single year in North America alone.
But statistics don’t mean a damn when you’re slogging through an endless trail of Grape Nuts in the pitch black with no defense but a telescoping aluminum stick. Half a mile from home I could hear the coyotes getting closer. In fact, they were on three sides of me now.
Suddenly without warning or sound, like the shadow of a vulture crossing a trail at high noon I found myself surrounded by a pack of the beasts, snarling and snapping at my boots.
There was no time to think. I simply reacted. I took my hiking stick and stepped into a kung fu Dragon Posture, using Downward River Flowing in the Moonlight thrusts followed by Mountain Tai Falling into Incense Burner chopping motions. Thanks to my lightning fast reflexes I quickly had the whole pack immobilized. By which I mean that the coyotes were laughing so hard that I was able to slip away undetected.
Next time I decide to confront a wild creature, I think I’ll send an Instant Message instead.