Hunters, contrary to belief, compassionate towards animals they like to eat.
It was November 7th, the middle of the rut and traditionally (for me) one of the best days in the stand. I had snuck into my spot before daylight and settled in to sit till dark or death whichever came first. Only this particular day had not lived up to its reputation. It was slow and slowly killing me. This was coming off of a bomber November 6th with bucks tucked in every nook and cranny. But this day was different, as it moved like molasses.
Despite limited deer movement I had still been pleasantly entertained by consistent shivering and shifting in my seat. It was windy, cold and miserable. One of those days that you wished you had spent doing something else like plucking all your nose hairs one at a time. At least that would be somewhat productive.
Nonetheless there I was committed and hopeful. I slugged through the mid-day awaiting the “golden hour” essentially being the period right before, during and after sunset. Which in all honesty is more like 1.5 to 2 hours but you get my drift. Aside from the morning this is when deer are typically most active. I was watching time stand still at 4pm when I heard an animal balling. My first reaction was that it was a doe being harassed by a Goliath of a buck heading directly to me on a string! Then I came to my senses and remembered there were cattle across a fence about 100 yards to the east.
I grabbed ahold of the tree leaned out to get a better look and caught eye of a small black angus calf bawling and running in circles. He also appeared to be kicking his hind legs. Then I caught sight of a low shadow behind him. I grabbed my binoculars but to no avail as he disappeared from sight. All I could think was coyote.
What you should know about me is I am a softie. Yep, me, Mr. Hunter, killer wild animals, is a total compassionate softie for animals. Even though I typically route for the predator in those National Geographic videos. It’s nature, it’s life. So here I sat listening and grimacing as he bawled until he bawled no more. I had decided he was done for, the poor guy. Then he returned about 10-20 minutes later at 4pm. Yeah, you read that right…remember time was standing still. Still bawling but moving much slower. This time I saw it, the coyote, nipping at his heels. I also saw blood on the calf’s rear. I contemplated this situation and quickly, yet begrudgingly, made up my mind.
I tied my bow on my draw rope and slid it down to the ground, moved my safety line to my life line and began my descent. I looked at my watch 4pm… I just knew this would blow my evening hunt, but I couldn’t just sit there. He was a quarter mile away through head high grass and cattails, but I thought I could get to him, so I made my way. I knew it was unlikely that I could get close enough to dispatch the coyote with my bow, and I was grateful for that as he was just making a living, but perhaps I could at least spook him away.
I crossed a fence and spotted the calf, nocked an arrow but the coyote was gone. I got closer to see how badly he was hurt convinced he would run away, but he didn’t. He walked right up to me. I could see in his eyes that he was distraught and terrified. I held out my hand and he sauntered up till we touched. It was a really heartfelt moment. He appeared to be wounded but not mortally.
At about this time the other cattle had spotted me and approached. If you haven’t been around cattle in camouflage, they can get a little crazy. They are both equally interested and terrified at one time. Acknowledging there was nothing else I could do I made my way back to my stand. Cattle in tow (Great!!! That’ll help the hunting). Just before crossing the fence I ran them off and said good luck little buddy. Ten minutes later, settled in my tree at dark a pack of coyotes began to yelp in that general direction and my gut turned thinking about the long night ahead. Good luck little fella.
The next day I was headed home (deer less), and the calf was on my mind, it was still nagging me. I did some investigative work and located the owner of the WIHA and reported the instance. He thanked me and said he would contact his tenant. I figured this would be the last of it, but I felt better, I had done all I could. On Friday I received a voicemail from an unknown number. It was the surface owner. He said he just wanted to let me know he had passed word along and that the owner of the cattle had found the calf, alive. He had lost part of his tail but thought he would make it. He also said that they both appreciated that I took the time to go out of my way and just thought I’d like to know. At the end of his voicemail, he said, “So, happy Friday!”. Grinning, I thought yes, Happy Friday, Happy Friday indeed.
– The 8 Point