Saturday, March 4, 2017

Discretion Being the Better Part of Valor... or Yips, Yikes!

It's a doleful sound, at the onset, one could misinterpret it as a human cry, especially when one is a fifteen minute drive from the border of the most populous city in the United States. Then as it builds into a chorus of an indeterminate number of intertwined vocal parts, a sonic mélange of howls and yips, it becomes as unmistakable as it is unheimlich- it is a pack of coyotes singing. I tend not to be timorous about coyotes, having had several encounters with them in the past. I decided that I would proceed in the direction of the coyote-chorus so I could attempt to get some idea of how many there were (count the tapeta lucida, then divide by two, hoping that there are no individuals which are monocular due to disease or misadventure)- then, in typical horror movie fashion, just as I was about to march forth (tee hee), the battery of my rechargeable flashlight gave out. I'm not afraid of the dark, nor am I afraid of coyotes, but, despite the fact that I have worked nights for the past ten years, from an evolutionary standpoint, I am a diurnal animal, so the prospect of walking into an area occupied by an indeterminate number of sizeable, clever predators wasn't exactly appealing. It was around 4AM, a time perfectly described by Fred Saberhagen as "the darkest morning hours, when human powers are known to wane, and others may reach their peak". ADVANTAGE: CANINE!

Lightless, I made my way to the brighter precincts of the site, then back to my office. I swear I didn't cry, but I didn't exactly feel very heroic until I was inside. If there's one thing I've learned by perusing lurid Man's Life magazine covers on the internet, it's that even the manliest manly man of manliness can prevail against a critter onslaught only during the daylight hours. If that one guy had run into those weasels at night, they would have ripped his flesh right down to the bone, marrow even.

On a felicitous note, because of the bitterly cold, windy weather, one of the managers took Fred and Ginger home for the weekend. Typically, I feed these two around 4AM on Saturday mornings, and the idea of having them out and about while coyotes are roaming around without me being able to see them would not have made me comfortable.

ADDENDUM: Given the frigid temperature, and the fact that the eastern coyote is about one-quarter wolf, this could have been the title of my post:


mikey said...

You oughta set up a couple of night vision game/trail cameras around the site and see what alls out there at night. The gift shop could sell the better pics to pay for the cameras...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

That's a great idea, mikey. I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he had bought one and set it up in his backyard. Just this weekend, he found an image of one of his neighbors in his backyard with a pair of binoculars, spying on his adolescent daughter's bedroom window. He contacted the local constabulary, and there will be an ensuing shitstorm. This creep's live-in girlfriend has a teenage daughter herself.

I told my friend to drop a goddamn bus on this asshole.

Li'l Innocent said...

I wanted to echo your thoughts when I first read this nifty post a couple of nights ago. You reminded me of an experience I had well over 3 decades ago, when my then boyfriend, my sister and I traveled into NYC to spend the day at the Bronx Zoo, for the first time since childhood. A new, advanced-design Big Cat building was among several new facilities that had been opened recently.

We entered the new Feline house. Immediately inside the door, I found myself five feet away from an adult leopard on my left with nothing between us. The leopard paused in mid-stride, turned his/her head and met my eyes. There was a moment of pure prey-animal petrifaction before the presence of the spotless plate glass registered.

It's good to know your place. A predator - especially a top predator - has an inherent quality that no jumped-up anthropoid will ever achieve.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Reading your post, LI, I have to say that I am glad that my precious kitties aren't sixty or seventy pounds... cats are such perfect killing machines.

Emma said...


I live rurally, by mostly-preference, and our local supply of barn cats has dwindled to zero since the immediate environment expanded into coyote territory. (Or "expanded into coyote territory again."

I realize that animals don't have ethics, and that they look at the world through pretty basic hierarchies of threat dynamics, but things that hunt in packs are scary as fuck. Especially when they have sharp teeth.