Where the deer and the coyotes play

While visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I took a short hike around the loop of Uncle Jim’s Trail, and caught on video one of the most amazing wildlife scenes I’ve ever witnessed – involving a deer, a fawn, and at least one coyote. Read on, and watch.

Deer chases coyote As I was returning from the viewpoint at the apex of Uncle Jim’s Trail, nearing the hitching posts used by the guided “mule rides” popular among many tourists, I heard a keening cry off in the woods to my right. Because of a wildfire a few years ago, this area is a sparse stand of Ponderosa Pine with a low underbrush; I could not see anything in the direction of the cry.  A group of mules and riders had just gone down that way, but this cry was neither human nor mule.  It wasn’t a bird cry either, but I couldn’t place it. The cry was repeated a few more times, then suddenly, a small fawn came dashing down the trail from the right, crossed the path in front of me, and disappeared into the brush to my left.

Now this is interesting, I thought. I readied my camera.

I walked to where the fawn had crossed, next to the hitching posts.  Multiple creatures galloped through the brush in front of me, out of sight, heading toward the spot where the fawn had gone.  The cry repeated; then silence. I began to understand that a hunt was underway, and with the continued silence I feared the fawn had lost. I finally thought to start recording video.

Noise in the brush behind me caused me to look back toward the viewpoint. Two animals ran by from right to left – from the point where all the critters had run earlier, across the trail, to the left. They rounded a bush and ran back the way they came, right in front of me: first, a coyote, then a doe. They disappeared back into the bush where the fawn had gone.

I waited, and then walked back toward the viewpoint, to where the coyote and deer had crossed the trail. A coyote – likely a different coyote – jumped from its hiding place and ran to join the others.

Wow. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods, for over forty years.  I’ve seen all manner of wildlife – deer, bear, fox, moose, pretty much everything. But I’ve never seen a hunt in progress, and I’ve certainly never seen prey chase predator.  Awesome. Check out the video (90 seconds).

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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