Death in nature
Last week I sat in my turkey blind in South Dakota and watched 19 whitetails file through a CRP field and then hop a fence onto the public land where I was set up. Through my binoculars, I witnessed a coyote tearing out from a wooded draw and chasing a doe across a hillside, over a ridge and then out of sight. I could also see another coyote sitting on its haunches near a patch of sumac, patiently waiting.
A minute later, the first coyote came back and he started harassing the other deer. It looked an awful lot like an attempted deer drive to me. Several other coyotes I couldn’t see sounded off at once, and the deer started to run as one. That’s when the first coyote sat on his haunches as well and soon enough the original doe trotted toward the waiting canines. She was nearly between the two when she spotted or smelled one of them and took off. They kicked it in as well and nearly got her before she made it to the herd, which was standing 400 yards distant and watching the drama unfold.
This was the third time in my life I’ve watched coyotes move in on a herd of healthy deer and try to take one down. I’ve yet to see them succeed, but that doesn’t mean much. They do, and it’s just one of the ways deer go from eating lunch to being lunch.
The following day I hunted for an hour and decided to go scout out a deer spot or three. While cruising through a deep valley I noticed a rib cage at the bottom. As I walked down I realized there were two dead deer, both young bucks, and they were bound together by bailing twine. The story, it seems, was written in the manner in which they lay. One buck must have gotten his antlers wrapped in baling twine, and the second buck, feeling a bit froggy, must have tried to spar. They got mixed up and couldn’t separate themselves and eventually died, locked together, at the bottom of the ravine. This is one situation I hope the coyotes got there first, because the alternative is much worse.
I realize that many would say baling twine-induced death isn’t really natural, and I won’t argue that although what we feel is natural and what actually exists in nature these days is rarely divorced of man’s influence. In this case, it led to an unconventional, and quite horrible, death for two youngsters.