I slipped over a ridge and sat in front of a small cedar on a foggy morning. Before me stretched a series of grassy and brushy draws that led down to a creek valley. Various nooks and crannies and undercut banks provided hunting and bedding cover for coyotes, bobcats and badgers. Visibility dwindled after about 200 yards.
Shortly after I began blowing a series of rabbit distress calls, a murder of crows began what sounded to me like a classic vocal attack on a predator. These are loud, rapid fire, aggressive “caws” usually aimed at great horned owls, but sometimes land-based predators such as red fox and bobcat. I’d never seen red fox in the coyote country I was calling, so I turned on my bobcat radar.
Bobcats are famous for sneaking in to a caller, often sitting quietly for long minutes while watching cautiously. Many escape unnoticed because coyote hunters are programmed to watch for the quick charge of bold canines. And they usually arrive well before Miss Kitty. Long before callers notice the felines in their midst, they’ve shot at an approaching coyote or given up to call elsewhere.
I wasn’t going to make that mistake on this set up, thanks to the crow alert. I cried like a caught bunny for about 30 seconds, then waited and watched for several minutes before crying again. By my third series it was apparent the crows were moving closer, flying limb to limb and screaming down at whatever they were following. By its slow and low progress, I was sure it was no owl.
It wasn’t. After my sixth series, the crows had moved off, but no terrestrial predators had appeared. But I could easily have overlooked something in the fog. I slowly lifted my 8x32mm Zeiss binocular and studied the landscape. And there he was. Bob himself, sitting in front of a small cedar, patiently and cautiously like a house cat, watching me intently from 120 yards.
The wonderful thing about cautious but curious cats is what they’ll let you get away with. Keep movements slow and discreet and you can usually get a shot. I lowered the binocular, raised the Model 70 .243 Win. and steadied the reticle on the cat’s spotted brisket. Even before I applied pressure to the trigger, I was thanking the tell-tale crows for giving me a heads up.
Next time you’re calling predators, pay attention to the crows.