Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Day I Left My Camera at Home

We had some action on our ridge. As Kona and I approached our wall of mustard, I saw movement in front of us. About 20 meters up the trail, two deer ran across the hillside.

I stopped to watch them. The last time I saw deer on our ridge was during the fires last fall. Kona and I ran into an exodus of deer moving away from the burning forest to the North. We saw over 15 deer that day, but haven't seen another on our ridge since then.

So today was a treat. I watched as the pair disappeared into thick chaparral. Suddenly, I heard a thud. One of the deers moved back out of the chaparral. The second followed right behind it. I heard another thud.

I wondered if I had run into two bucks, duking it out for our ridegline. But as one deer moved out of the chaparral, I knew that wasn't the case. She was a doe. What was going on?

Kona started to whine and broke her stay. I asked her to sit again. To my surprise, she sat, but started quivering.

I looked back up the hill. The doe was in a clearing. The second deer followed her, running.

Wait, I thought. That's not a deer.

No, the second deer was a coyote. The coyote leaped around sage brush after the deer. The doe pushed her body up the steep hillside. I watched as the coyote circled the deer to approach her from behind. The doe didn't have a chance to outmaneuver the canine.

Suddenly, the coyote leaped back in front of the doe and the doe charged. Another thud.

At this point, all I could think was, "You've got to be kidding me, Coyote." I scanned the higher ridge, looking for signs of a fawn, or maybe another coyote pair. Nothing. Did this canine seriously think he had a chance at the doe on his own?

The chase and charge played out for about two more minutes. As I watched the coyote, I was struck by how much he looked like Kona when she frolics in high grass. He looked surprisingly relaxed and happy. It was as if his antics with the deer were all a game. He never lowered his body, and I never saw him try to put his mouth on the deer. Was this really just a fun morning romp for the coyote?

Just as Kona lost her power to stay still, the duo broke up, moving in opposite directions on the ridge. I don't think either one of them was hurt. I feared most for the coyote, who had taken a few hard hits.

Needless to say, Kona exploded with energy as soon as we started back up the trail. She spent most of the morning with her nose glued to the ground. Not a bad start to the weekend.


Barb said...

Oh - I loved reading about your encounter on the ridge. So lucky to see that interaction. I can just imagine it. Have a great weekend with Kona!

KB said...

You were so lucky to get to see an intriguing interaction like that. Wow. I wonder what the coyote was thinking? I know that a dog can rarely take down a deer so maybe a coyote can if the deer is weakened in some way...

Thanks for the nose info!! That was super nice of you. I'm going to check it all out and talk with my trainer. If nothing else, I'll do some of the training on my own... I realized as I thought about it that my trainer is already overbooked - it takes weeks to get an appt with her. So, why would she try to add something else to her practice? Unless she's just curious to learn something new...

Kathy said...

wow, how amazing Kona is to not take off running after all that action, what a great stay.
That just sounds like such an amazing morning.

MurphyDog said...

wow! What an amazing action packed adventure you were able to witness! Mom's quite jealous!

wags, wiggles & slobbers

Priscilla said...

What a day!
That must have been quite amazing to watch! For you , it was probably like watching the discovery channel ... live!!!!!

Sara said...

Wow! How exciting. Now you have a clue why Kona's nose is always on the ground!

Sam said...

Wow, *I* wish you had your camera, too. That sounds absolutely magical. Kona sounds like she enjoyed it, too - I'm glad you had a good start to the weekend!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Wow! Good job to Kona for staying put at all during something like that. I think Lilly would have flipped.

Dawn said...

Katie would have freaked out. Good job Kona!!