John Hunt, of Blackshear, recently had a hunting experience he will never forget.
On the morning of Oct. 13, John did as he would normally do to begin a hunt. He parked his truck and began his 400-yard trek to his stand on some private Ware County property that he often hunts. It was the Tuesday of Georgia’s primitive-weapons season, and John was excited about trying to shoot a deer with his muzzleloader.
As he was walking through planted pine rows, he heard a coyote howl three different times behind him. With every howl, John realized the coyote was closing the distance on him.
“I really couldn’t believe I was being stalked by one, but I was so spooked, I stopped right there and immediately found a tree to hook my climber to,” said John.
John could still hear the coyote getting closer and closer, a startling experience considering it was still before daylight.
“I hadn’t even been in the stand three minutes, and I could hear something in the bushes I just walked through,” said John.
He faintly saw a figure appear and knew it had to be the coyote. At that point, it was approximately 15 yards away, but it was still too dark to shoot. Within 10 minutes, John was able to clearly see the coyote less than 5 yards from the tree he was in. The coyote had stopped exactly where John’s scent left off.
“I managed to drop him right there in his tracks,” John said.
Although the coyote wasn’t tested, John said he believes it might have been in the early stages of rabies.
According to a Georgia DNR “Fact Sheet” on coyotes, “A coyote displaying abnormal behavior and appearing fearless of humans is uncharacteristic and may mean the animal is injured or has fallen victim to a disease, such as rabies, parvovirus or distemper.”
The other possibility was that the coyote was trailing the buck lure that John had applied to himself before he walked in. If this is the case, hunters might want to consider that a predator could find the aroma appealing, too.
As far as John could tell, the coyote was traveling alone. However, he and fellow hunters have seen a rise in the coyote population this season in Ware County.
“I just want hunters to be aware of coyotes. They can be very aggressive animals, especially if they are rabid,” says John.
Always remember to let someone know where you’ll be when you’re hunting alone.