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.