Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Coyote Stories
April 1, 2003

On a summer afternoon in the early 1980's, my wife and I went out after dinner to head back to the hay-field. On glancing towards the northern horizon, quite a cloud of smoke was evident. In this country when smoke is sighted, every rancher drops whatever they are doing and gathers up other members of the ranch crew to go fight fire. It doesn't matter whose land the fire is on, the neighbors all help each other.

We didn't have a fire-fighting sprayer at the time, so jumped into the pickup armed with only shovels to fight the fire. We were some of the first to arrive at the scene, and began extinguishing the flames with our spades. The south wind was blowing at a fairly good clip, and the fire would be in our little town in about three miles.

My thoughts were that I was not doing a whole lot of good on the side of the fire, and should get up in the lead to try to stop its forward progress. It got kinda scary, as the flames were over my head and charging forward faster than I could walk. Fire is opposite of most things, as gravity means nothing to it. In other words, fire races up hills but slows as it goes down the other side. My strategy was to get in a sandy area on a hill-side and try to conquer the fire as it slowed coming over the top. There was a coyote that had the same idea. He was wanting to quickly dig a hole, and crawl in to let the fire pass over him. We made a pretty good team. He dug and threw sand out, and I used that sand to throw on the fire. We did kind of put the fire out in that area, and soon the country fire trucks arrived.

It was a hot day anyway, and I was dying of thirst. I requested that the fireman just drench me with the hose. Gee, it felt good. The coyote was still in his hole as we vacated the blackened pastureland.


One chilly March afternoon back in the late 1980's, my hired hand and I rode out to sort some "heavy" cows out of a bunch of about 300 head. We had been in that meadow earlier in the day to feed hay, and everything seemed to be in order. The wind was blowing hard out of the northeast after dinner, and the clouds rolled our way. When we arrived where the cattle were, there was a gray object over next to a tree-lot. I suspected that some old cow had dumped out a new baby Charolais-cross calf and abandoned it. The other cowboy rode south to start gathering cows, and I rode northeast to investigate.

As I rode closer, I could see that the gray object was a coyote laying down taking a nap with his head in his paws. As I rode closer, the adrenalin really started to pump. All my life it had been my desire to rope a coyote, and here was a golden opportunity. As I was riding right into the wind, the sleeping coyote had no idea that anybody was anywhere close by.

The coils of rope were in my left hand and a modest sized loop was in my right. Just as I was about to make the fateful cast, it came to my attention that the coyote was deader than a hammer. He had drifted into the tree-lot in the past couple of hours, had settled down for a peaceful forty winks, and just plain never woke up. The weather was cold enough that the dead coyote didn't deteriorate for nearly a month, and he slept unmolested until finally decomposing back into the dust from whence he came.


My opportunity to rope a coyote came a few years later. I was riding a good gray cowhorse, and checking through some cows with fairly new baby calves. I rode up over a little knoll about half a mile from our house, and a coyote jumped up. He didn't travel very fast, as one of his legs was injured. Here was my chance, and I only had to get my horse up to about half of his potential speed to catch up with Wiley Coyote. I threw the rope, and he ran most of the way through it before I got my slack pulled up. He was firmly caught around one hind leg and his tail. Not a real good catch, but I headed for the house to show my favorite cowgirl my prize. Once in a while I would try to slow down a bit to give the coyote some relief. It didn't pay, because then he would bite at my rope. If my horse kept up his speed, this didn't happen. The only problem was a barbed wire gate not far from the house. When I slowed down to open it off of my horse, the coyote got the advantage and escaped. He was disoriented, so ran right towards the house. I kiyied on up to the yard gate, jumped off the horse and ran in to get a rifle. 'Bye-'bye litte coyote. The injured ones like that when left alone are more apt to be calf-killers. New calves don't run as fast as jack-rabbits do.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
All Rights Reserved