Fox Hunting…for coyotes

In the early 1970’s I was a co-founder of a polo club in Wyoming.  One of the clubs that gave us support was Plum Creek Polo Club in Denver.  Out of that relationship came an invitation to ride to the hounds with their sister club, the Arapahoe Hunt Club.  But instead of hunting fox, they rode hounds to coyote.

The coyote is indigenous to the region, is bigger than a fox and considered by most ranchers  a predator.  They were also prolific in the area at that time and were becoming a problem in the suburbs of Denver.

On my first ride with the club I was given rudimentary instruction by the Master of the Hounds.  I remember that I was to give the hounds the right of way.  I was not to ride ahead of the Master of the Hounds.  I could choose not to go over fences and a few other instructions that I have since forgotten.   I do remember that before the hunt was underway we were given adult libation for warmth and for courage.

It was late fall when this ride occurred, and while there was little snow the ground was partly frozen.  We set off at a walk as the hounds spread out and searched for scent and the members of the hunt settled in.  Very soon the hounds picked up the scent and were off.  The riders broke into an easy canter, holding up for the hounds to set a pace.  The pack spread out and began to run and bay as they followed the coyote.  After a few miles it seemed that the hounds were closing on the coyote.  We topped a hill and I reined in slightly behind the Master.  He turned and called me to ride up beside him.  Looking down on the pack he pointed to where they were entering a shallow draw with steep sides.  “Watch,” he said.  “The coyote just went into that draw.  Now look over there to your right.  See that other coyote.  He is going to cross the path of the coyote that they are after so that his scent is fresher.  The pack will turn to follow the fresh coyote and the one we were running will lay down and rest!”

As on cue the fresh coyote crossed the path of the coyote we were chasing turning the pack away from the tired coyote. As the hounds picked up a fresh scent they seemed  invigorated and set off anew, hot after a fresh prey.

Amazed and amused at the teamwork the coyotes displayed I rode next to the Master. He explained that “We hardly ever catch one, unless it’s sick or suicidal.”

2 comments on “Fox Hunting…for coyotes

  1. Amazing! I knew they were foxy, and this story nicely illustrates that.

  2. NancyLG says:

    Great story – coyotes are very smart – that’s why there are still so many of them, no matter what we do.

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