Glad you're ok, Scott. Sometimes they come back with some friends. Good observation on the family dog too....I'd be nervous as well.

> Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 21:46:43 -0400
> From: braaten.scott@GMAIL.COM
> Subject: [SKIVT-L] Coyotes
> I couldn't even make this up if I tried... but I had to change my underwear
> not long after beginning my hike today and here's why:
> I noticed the hiking trail signs said all trails are closed till Memorial
> Day weekend... I figure its the Thursday before, the trail was bone dry
> (even though the sign made it sound like it was knee-deep mud), so I made
> the choice to use the Hazelton trail to get up to 2,700ft where it crosses
> Cliff Trail. From there, I'd walk up Nosedive to avoid being on the trail
> in the high elevations.
> Anyway, I get on the Hazelton and in the beginning it meanders around then
> steepens considerably as you follow a ridge. Maybe 100 yards in (I can
> still see Perry Merrill at this point) I walk around a corner and come
> face-to-face with not one, but TWO, German Sheppard-looking dogs trotting
> down the trail towards me. They freeze as soon as they see me. At first I
> think it must be someone taking their dogs for a hike because there were a
> couple other cars in the parking lot. I quickly realize neither of them
> have a collar on and are covered in burrs and leaves. They are wild
> canines. I'm guessing a male and female because one was noticeably smaller
> than the other, but certainly larger than a pup.
> I stupidly put out my hands like you would for a domesticated dog and slowly
> step backward. The lead dog does not like the fact that I just put my hands
> out and pulls back his/her gums and flares teeth. I can see the plague on
> the teeth; the thing is that close to me.
> I start making loud noises, yelling and clapping, while picking up some
> rocks. The dogs bolt back up the trail at the sound of the noise, then I
> watch one of them peel off into the waist high puckerbrush. The other one
> holds in the middle of the trail...neither ever breaking eye contact with
> me. At this point I've already soiled myself once and don't want to do it
> again. Sensing some split-up hunting strategy, I start lobbing rocks in
> their general direction...not wanting to hit them per se, but definitely
> trying to scatter them. It worked and they must've realized I was not some
> white-tailed deer because they rejoined each other and trotted up Hazelton
> out of view.
> Now that the three of us realize I have rocks and can throw them, I have the
> upper hand. Also, if you know me, you know that I want a picture of these
> two real bad. How sick would it be to get a relative close up photo of two
> coyotes on a hiking trail?! So I hastily take my pack off and get out my
> camera... and start following them up the trail.
> They kept their distance though, and each time I'd see them for a split
> second before they'd take off around the next corner. After about 5 minutes
> of this they got bored and I never saw them again... and unfortunately never
> got a chance at a good photo with rocks in one hand and camera in the other.
> Afterward, I remember being very, very happy that I did not have the family
> black-lab with me. What do you do in that situation if you are hiking with
> a dog? I could see the whole two-wild-dogs vs. one-domesticated-dog fight
> in my head and it would not have gone over well. I honestly don't know what
> I'd do.
> This was BY FAR, the most interaction (and scarily close) I've ever had with
> wildlife on Mansfield. A few years ago while skinning in April with Alex
> Friend, I saw a coyote trot across Nosedive and up Cliff Trail, but he was
> hundreds of feet away. This was around a blind corner on a tight hiking trail.
> I saw a black bear on Tuesday, and now two coyotes on Thursday. The animals
> must be on the move this time of year. Maybe on Saturday I'll see a Catamount.
> -Scott
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