FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Coyote Hunt

I walked up the mountain in the howling snow and the drifts and the flashing of the moon behind the clouds, looking for coyote traps to sabotage.   The coyote hunt was on that weekend, and I heard there were traps up on Hubbell Hill.

It was snowshoe, mitten, balaclava weather.  I brought several flashlights in case one or the other went dead, and I wished I’d brought a gun, because you never know.  A 19-year-old folk singer in Canada was killed not long ago by coyotes.  Nothing amiss with the animals.  They were healthy and strong, no rabies, not starving, which are the usual reasons wild canids attack and kill people – and we should remember they almost never do so.

Here in New York State I get into arguments with both sides, the hunters who kill with a passion and the animal rightsers whose love is as irrational.  I’m told by the hunter crowd that coyotes in a ravening state will eat your balls off.   God bless the coyotes! Let them feast – especially on New Yorkers, who are too many and need to be culled.

With the wind-ripped saplings of fir pulling like oarmen, with the branches of the hardwoods toppling into the fat of the snow, with the light of the moon behind the storm emitting an obscene purple light, up the mountain I go.   My snowshoes plummet and splash, the wind in the trees seems to cavitate the sky, the old oaks groan and call, and a cold white exploding pillow-fight of down blinds me.

Into the ice temple among the hemlocks: these last pillared behemoth remnants: the sad lone grandsons of the firs that once covered the Catskills, raped and pillaged for the chemicals in their bark, chemicals that tanned leather for a short while before the rapists moved on to other more efficient means of tanning.

Beyond the hemlocks, a bluestone wall is buried under a foot of snow or more, and beyond the wall is a vast field where the trees were cleared a hundred years ago.

And beyond that is the height of Hubbell Hill.

I went out one night during the annual February coyote hunt to a local restaurant off Route 28, in the valley below Hubbell Hill, where the owners, Tina and Doug, keep a stuffed coyote at the door to the kitchen.   Doug, the chef, joined in last year’s contest, but he regretted he couldn’t make it this year.   Last year he used a caller and a rabbit pantomime and scent to draw them toward his hunting blind.

Sometimes he uses a turkey call.  “They come right to it,” he said.  Then he excused himself to get back to the kitchen, as it was a busy night, and Tina, who was tending bar, explained that she was an animal lover – but the love did not extend, for some reason, to coyotes.  “I can’t stand killing.  When the men go out and bring back a deer, I don’t wanna even look.  But coyotes. I don’t know why.  That’s the only animal I could shoot.  I just hate them.  Maybe it’s that screaming at night they do.  I can’t think of anyone up here who likes coyotes.”

Her dishwasher, a fresh-faced man no older than 20, emerged from the kitchen and showed me a picture of a handsome coyote he trapped on Hubbell Hill. In the photo he holds the animal by its hindquarters so that its body stretches out and straightens, forelegs pointed down, as if diving into deep water.

Tina called across the room to a party who were celebrating a birthday.   One of the men in the group had attended last year’s hunt in Sullivan County, the county to the south.  Immediately he went to swiping at his smartphone, looking for a photo of the trophy he had gotten.   It seemed that everybody in the place, at one time or another, had been busy trapping or shooting the poor dogs.

Tina said again, “It’s that horrible screaming at night.”

“Coyotes need to eat too,” I told her.  She poured me another Jameson.   We talked for a while.  I told her that I had spent time around coyotes.  We talked about how they sing complex songs – it isn’t screaming – how these are family groups singing together, talking with one another, establishing territory, how sometimes it’s a form of play, an expression of joy that has no purpose beyond expression.

We talked about the pups and their play, the way the families stick together, the cohesiveness and fidelity of coyote families. “It’s like they’re around a campfire, like us? Well.” She thought for a moment.  “Now I feel bad about bad-mouthing the coyotes.”

I told her I thought it was a form of madness to kill wild animals who no one would eat, whose only purpose in death was to serve as a stuffed manikin at the door of restaurants.

A few days later, another storm.   The usual crashing white wind of the Catskills, brought from the Great Lakes.   It was a burning bush of white, and after it passed the coyotes sang and I went up to Hubbell Hill to sabotage whatever traps I could find.

More articles by:

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer.  You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail