We parked the truck under the crest of the ridge and the two yellow female curs jumped from the cab to the ground, sniffing around unconcernedly for ground squirrels. Jeff quietly called the dogs back to the truck so he could snap electronic collars onto their necks. The girls remained quiet and seemed calm, but as I glanced at the seven-year old female, I could see the muscles of her back legs quivering in excitement. Although the collars can send electric shocks, for these seasoned pros, that would not be necessary. Instead, Jeff would use the collars to emit electronic beeps to communicate commands. There would be no voice commands in the field.
We spoke little, walking quietly with the dogs until we’d reached a rock outcrop perched at the end of the ridge overlooking a small pond, with sweeping views up several drainages along the face of the Wind River Mountains. We sat with our backs against the rocks, the dogs sitting patiently in front, as Jeff blew on a coyote call. We sat still, mosquitoes buzzing around us, sweat dripping down our backs, while the dogs slowly moved their heads from side to side as they scanned the hillsides for movement, occasionally adjusting their rumps for a more comfortable position. Plenty of birds, butterflies, and a few pronghorn antelope, but no coyotes, so we gathered ourselves back up for a hike to the next ridge, headed to check a location where a female coyote had denned the year prior.
The morning was long past and it was 80 degrees by the time we reached the rugged bluffs above the Big Sandy River, checking on one last den site before calling it a day. I could hear lambs calling to their mothers from the riverbed below as we began hiking toward the den, the curs trotting out in front of us. It was far too hot for anything to be happening, but the curs quickly jumped an adult male coyote that had been lounging on a ridgeline away from the pups. One yelp from the dogs and the chase was on, away from us and out of sight over the ridge.
Within seconds I saw a dog’s head pop up on the skyline, as one of the dogs took a look to locate her human partners. A few barks and yelps later, the two curs came charging back over the top of the ridge, with the male coyote a few paces behind.
The coyote was agitated at the intrusion into his range, barking aggressively, and trying to get close enough to grab a mouthful of dog. But the curs were fast and determined, swinging back around and coming to a full stop to urge the coyote forward when he faltered.
The temptation was too much, and the coyote again gave chase.
The girls brought him in at a run directly across a small draw from our location, where Jeff was waiting with his .22-250 Remington. The dogs slowed and stopped, as did the coyote, giving Jeff a clean and close view. One quick shot and the coyote was down.
The dogs raced back to us for praise, then returned to rough up the carcass a little before leading us back along the ridgeline. After a quick water break, the dogs escaped the heat by climbing back into the cab for a well-deserved nap.