'>
Home > Columns > Close Coyote
NatureSmart Column

Close Coyote

by Stan Tekiela
© NatureSmart

March 27, 2019

I had been searching the snowy mountain landscape the entire morning and had come up empty-handed. It was a cold morning with temperatures in the single digits but the bright sun and lack of wind made it very comfortable.

Just the week before, a storm laid a 30-inch-thick blanket of snow on the ground. This is exactly the weather and snow conditions I was hoping for during my recent winter trip to Yellowstone National Park. The colder the temperatures and the deeper the snow the easier it is for me to see, observe and photograph wildlife.

While waiting at a prominent overlook in a particularly wide valley, I saw a coyote trotting my direction. I knew this was going to be a good photographic opportunity and all I needed to do was wait.

I grabbed my camera and long lens and for whatever reason, this time I didn’t grab my tripod. The camera and lens combined weights a solid six or seven pounds. This is not something that you want to be hand holding all the time. Also, holding the lens up horizontal and steady enough for a clear picture can be challenging.

When the coyote was about 80 to 100 feet away, I took a few pictures but noticed the background didn’t look very pleasing, so I quickly went down on one knee to lower my prospective and change the look of the background. Good wildlife photographer means you need to be considering everything in the frame of the picture, not just the subject. The background is extremely important.

Getting on the same level, or in this case, the eye-level, really helps make a basic image of a coyote become a great image of a coyote. I started capturing what I believed were some stunning images of this magnificent animal. The coyote had a full and thick winter coat. I am always amazed that we need to put on so many extra layers of clothing and yet this coyote was warm and comfortable.

It is always difficult to judge distance when looking through a long lens. I could see that the coyote was getting closer and I was capturing some very good images. It was at this point that I saw the coyote was coming straight at me with purpose. I looked up over my camera to see the coyote with its head down and a very determined look on his face heading right for me.

Of course, my instinct was to get up off my knee and fully stand up. Remember I was hand holding my camera and lens because I didn’t have time to grab my tripod. As the coyote approached me, I instinctively held my camera and lens between the coyote and me to block him. It was at this point that I realized the coyote wanted my camera and lens.

I backed up one step and the coyote advanced again, I took another stepped back again and the coyote continued to advance. I lifted the front of the lens, so it wasn’t at the coyote’s level. Again, I took another step back and this awkward dance went on for several more steps.

I must admit I was a bit amused at the boldness of this critter. There is no way it could lift my camera and lens. It was just too heavy. I smiled and thought to myself, how much I enjoyed the boldness and curiosity of the coyote. This is the very reason why these animals are so successful in our changing world.

After another couple steps backwards, I became tired of this dance. I quickly stomped my boot on the frozen ground, quickly raised my arms and yelled very loud at the coyote. That is all it took. The coyote turned tail and took off running with its tail tucked between its legs. It looked over its shoulder a couple times and each time I raised my arms and shouted again, which caused the coyote to speed up. It seems he couldn’t leave fast enough. Until next time…

Stan Tekiela is an author / naturalist and wildlife photographer who travels the U.S. to study and capture images of nature. He can be followed on www.facebook.com and twitter.com. He can be contacted on his web page at www.naturesmart.com

Photo by Stan Tekiela

The nationally syndicated NatureSmart Column appears in over 25 cities spanning 7 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. It is a bi-weekly column circulated to over 750,000 readers.

Recent Columns
Most Recent  |  

Sage Grouse

I am no stranger to getting up pre-dawn, stumbling around in the dark and finding remote locations, far, far away that I have never been to before. So, it was “just another day at the office” when I recently went to Wyoming and Colorado to visit an old friend, the Greater Sage Grouse...

Hooded Merganser

The spring bird migration is like a high-speed race, or sprint when compared to the fall/autumn migration. Birds returning to the northlands are racing against others of its kind. The first to the best territories and habitat will win the reproductive lottery.

Waterfowl such as Snow Geese...

Blue Snow

Late winter and early spring is usually the time I start to see blue snow. That’s right, blue snow. Or more accurately, blue spots in the snow. If you have walked the woods at this time of year you may have seen small blue spots in the melting piles of snow.

So, what’s up with...

Blue Snow

Late winter and early spring is usually the time I start to see blue snow. That’s right, blue snow. Or more accurately, blue spots in the snow. If you have walked the woods at this time of year you may have seen small blue spots in the melting piles of snow.

So, what’s up with...

View all of the titles in the
NatureSmart Bookstore

Check out Stan's latest photos at
NatureSmart Wildlife Images

Wildlife Photography Tours
» More Info

Stan can be heard all across the Midwest.
»More Info