Canine Catharsis

October 10, 2013

I walked the trail toward my pond in the pitch dark but I could have done it with my eyes closed. I cut into the brushy fence row a few steps past the deer stand and fumbled for my turkey chair which was soggy from the previous night’s rain. It was a chilly morning on the heels of a cold front and as I settled into the canvas seat, my Carharts immediately soaked up the water right through to my rear end. Now I was really chilly! But I didn’t mind, because “chilly” is about a thousand times better than “hot and sweaty” which was what I was most of the summer.

I sat for the first hour, tripod draped over my lap and camera about an inch from my face, watching for a couple of bucks I’d seen the day before. Nothing was happening so it wasn’t long before I was dozing, only to be awakened by my forehead bumping into the back of my battle-bruised Mark IV. Finally, I pressed my head against the camera and took a more purposeful nap. I awoke a few minutes later to find what appeared to be drool on the Canon’s review screen. “Okay,” I thought, “time to get serious!”

The second hour went like the first as I stared into space waiting for something, anything, to happen. A Carolina wren alighted a few feet from my head and admonished me for using its fence row. It was so close I couldn’t even focus on its plumage without my readers. I was fully awake by that time but the field and woods ahead of me were dead calm and devoid of wildlife.

By the end of the third hour, my lingering stare was affixed on the same spot for several minutes. It wasn’t that the spot was special; I was just holding my head in its most comfortable position and that is where my eyes fell. Thoughts of wildlife photography dejection, not unlike those of a hunter, were bouncing around in my head and I was beginning to think about a walk back up to the house where I might talk Joyce into some waffles for breakfast.

As the fourth hour began, the fidgeting started and I knew I couldn’t last much longer, especially with a waterlogged backside. I was about ready to “call it” as we say in the duck blind, when an animal materialized from the woods across the field directly in front of me. As it continued in my direction, I realized it was a coyote, healthy and beautiful with a thick coat.

I knew I was in trouble because the wind was coming from behind me, right toward the coyote. I had to act fast before it caught my scent but I didn’t want to click the shutter too soon in case it approached even closer. Finally, the coyote stopped at about 30 meters out and began scanning the ground for rodents. “It’s now or never” I thought, and I watched its ears prick when the shutter clicked. A second later, the wily canine’s nose was in the air and I thought I saw a look of contempt in its tawny eyes as it turned tail and skedaddled for cover.

As the gorgeous coyote disappeared into the woods I was confident that I had a good image in the bag and a check of the drool-stained screen confirmed my optimistic assumption. Happy, but rather calm, I remembered the first coyote I’d ever photographed on a snowy morning six years ago, only a hundred yards farther down the hill.


         “Coyote in the Snow” 2006

I was so excited I ran all the way back to the house to call my friend Mike and tell him I was busting! Later that photograph was published in National Wildlife and Missouri Conservationist. Boy was I proud!

Now, after all those years, the thrill of photographing such a stealthy animal was still present, just a little deeper inside.

Thanks for looking,


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14 comments on “Canine Catharsis”

  1. Hi Danny, What a gorgeous pic, and what a heartfelt story. Enjoyed both. Happy day. C

    Sent from my iPad

  2. fantastic fox portrait, love the composition and look on his face

  3. Was missing reading Nature Frames….seems to have been a gap which has been explained by your computer upgrading tasks. I hope I will also have a “canine” day soon…meanwhile, your image is a great way to participate.

    • Thanks Deepa. There haven’t been any breaks in Nature Frames though. You better go back and read the ones you missed!

  4. Beautiful, Danny! Thanks for getting up early, getting your back side wet and taking such beautiful pics.

  5. Gorgeous but you definitely earned it with that long wait.

  6. Thanks Danny, for such a Beautiful shot of that Coyote. Sorry you had to endure such elements to get the end results, but it was worth it. You need to put waterproof hunting pants on your Christmas list. thanks for sharing.


  7. Hey Danny,
    Enjoy reading about your photo outings. I remember you posting that coyote! Keep up the good work.

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