by Sue Stein
I’d just given my miniature horses their hay when Misty’s ears swiveled back and then she turned her whole body, facing away from me, looking off to the rear of the fence line 100 feet away. I looked too. And then I saw it—a huge coyote, just coming out of the underbrush on the far side of the fence. Considering there used to be timber wolves in this area, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to see that he was a mixture of wolf and coyote…huge, cunning, and highly intelligent. His eyes went from the mini horses and then met mine. He sat down in the grass and stared at me.
I’d seen coyotes in with the horses before, stalking them. They’d attacked my dogs three times in my yard in broad daylight and I’d had to run them off, scared to death…but I did it. So the fact that this particular coyote had absolutely no fear of me made me very nervous. I’d taken to carrying a baseball bat with me whenever I went out in the yard or up to feed the horses. Not that it would make much difference if a coyote decided to attack me—I’d seen how fast they can run…like the wind itself.
So I brandished my bat in what I hoped was a convincingly menacing manner and yelled at the coyote. He just sat there, staring at me. I took my bat and smacked it against the wood fence post. Whap! Whap! All the while I was yelling at the coyote, trying to scare it off. It responded with a langorously sensual stretch, and then lay down. Still staring at me.
I looked at the mini horses. They looked at me, then back at the coyote, and then began munching their hay. They obviously figured I had the situation under control.
After at least five minutes of making loud noises and yelling at it to leave, it got up, had a huge yawn, and began moving through the underbrush. I realized that it could in a few minutes cut me off from my only path back to the house. I picked up my bat and ran back to the yard, grabbing the dogs and towing them inside the house, slamming the door as fast as I could in case the coyote was on my heels.
That night I sat on my couch and decided to try to contact Coyote and work out a deal. I connected right away, and asked Coyote to agree to leave me, and all of my animals alone, to stay out of my yard and the horse pasture. In return, I promised to keep all the coyotes safe and not let anyone on my land to trap or kill them. It took awhile, but Coyote agreed. This was two years ago, and I’ve only seen one coyote, a dusty black one, lurking on the edges of my lawn trying to tempt my dog to come to him. I chased him off with the bat, too. In the winter there would be tons of tracks through my yard; after the agreement, there were seldom any. And when the packs howl at night, they are no longer right next to my house, or close to the horses.
I’m still not sure what that coyote was trying to communicate to me that day it stared across the pasture at me. I was too scared at the time to try to connect with him to ask. As long as Coyote continues honoring his agreement with me, I’m willing to co-exist in peace with all the coyotes.