Predator Hunting a New Year’s Tradition

Each year some of us resolve to lose weight, save money, or, like me, just resolve to be better than I was last year. These resolutions generally last about 60 days max and then we are right back to chowing down on BBQ, blowing cash on guns, and making bad decisions. The one resolution though, I always keep, is my vow to live life so that I always have a good story to tell. I position myself outside my comfort zone; I look for risk and surround myself with interesting characters. One such character is my good hunting buddy, Chad. Unwittingly, Chad and I started what would become a New Year tradition—our annual guy’s trip to go predator hunting.

Each January or February, Chad and I drag 2 trucks-worth of gear to central Texas for a 1-day hunt. We post up in an abandoned log cabin that we lovingly refer to as the “Outpost” but should be more aptly named  “Hostel de Raccoon.” After a few minor disagreements with the raccoons about their place of residency, we layer up like we are in Antarctica (because inevitably the date we choose has the worst weather of the new year), gear up like our quarry may shoot back at us, and set out in search of some not-so-friendly mangy looking ‘yotes. 

Hunting with Chad is special. He is semi-overly enthusiastic about concealment; he rolls through cedar trees to hide his scent while still puffing on his cotton candy flavored vape. He picks up scat and says “this one’s fresh” while handing it to me to sniff (which I, without hesitation, decline). And he still believes in superstitions, omens, cursed Indian burial grounds, and/or any other odd derivative of supernatural nonsense. But, it takes a guy like Chad for this hunt. A person who enjoys sleep deprivation, close encounters with blood thirsty animals, and who likens shivering in the darkness to a great time. But then again, who am I to talk? I’m the fool shivering right there next to him… 

Now, I will never claim that I am a great predator hunter. I am probably sub-par at best, but Chad can call in a ‘yote from three counties away.  He claims he can smell them and even goes as far as howling himself, declaring that he is having a good conversation with them. I just smile and nod knowing my value to the team: being quick on the trigger and the man holding the flask of whiskey.  

Like two stooges, we stagger through cedar thickets and across dry creek banks, tripping over each other and our gear in the darkness. Once settled in and hidden, Chad will take a hit of his electronic cigarette and exhale a cotton candy scented cloud to “check the wind.” Next, he will brief me on the plan of attack. “When I call out the direction, you aim there, and I will light it up. If I say 1 o’clock you aim at one; if I say 3 o’clock you aim at three. Got it?”  I have never had the heart to tell ol’ Chad that I really can’t hear him too well through my two layers of beanies and a trapper hat and even if I could, he and I are facing opposite directions, so his time references are quite subjective. 

For hours, we sit motionless in the darkness as frost begins to form on our outer layers.  As we sit there, I drift off into thought, half awake, wondering why Chad is scratching himself and barking like a dog. To his credit though, Chad always seems to call one in, and my quick shooting seals the deal.  

Who would have thought that coyotes are attracted to the scent of carnival snacks and that cursing at owls (because apparently they are bad omens too) would ever pay off?