Do you know what to do when you see a coyote in the woods? Or are you just hoping to never find yourself in such a situation? I didn’t know what to do, but today I saw a coyote far too close for comfort during a hike.
Earlier today, I set out on a short hike a couple of towns north of where I live. It was only three miles and rated easy on AllTrails, so I really intended for it to just be a relaxing way to get out of the house for a bit. For the first two miles, that’s exactly how it went. The trail was really great, for an easier hike it had a couple of small hills and some slightly more challenging terrain that really made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile without it being too much where I was looking for more of a mental exercise here than a physical one
The halfway mark of the hike included about a half-mile walk on a paved road, and even this felt like a nice little break given some of the hills I’d done on the other sections of the trails. The paved road was located next to an open field that seemed like I could see for miles and nothing was around. Just me, the grass in the field, and off in the distance, the woods I would re-enter to finish up the last mile of the hike.
By the time I reached the end of this clearing to head back into the woods for the last part of the hike, I saw something grey on the ground about 30-40 ft. away. I stopped and looked at it for a minute (from this same distance) unsure of what it was. When I went to keep moving, I stepped on a stick and it snapped. The sound caused the grey thing to perk its head up, revealing itself as a coyote.
I was stunned and stood there frozen for I don’t know how long, then I slowly started walking toward the woods. As I started moving, the coyote stood up and its head followed me. As I re-entered the trees, it began walking, slowly, and perhaps toward my general direction but it was hard to tell because I was obviously getting the hell out of there.
I spent the rest of the hike running as quickly as I could without falling given the uneven terrain and rocks so I could get back to my car and away from it. I was not taking any chances, especially now that I was back in the woods where every horror movie-like thought was running through my mind (like the fact that a coyote could camouflage itself easily and that it surely knew these woods much better than I did.)
Obviously I’m okay if I’m writing this blog post, and as far as I know the coyote didn’t follow me and I could have continued to enjoy the hike at my own pace. Still, I did learn that despite moving more lately I am incredible out of shape because the last mile of this hike at that speed was more strenuous than any workout in recent memory.
AND since I didn’t know what to do if the coyote did approach me, and since you might not either, here’s what I learned while Googling when I did finally make it to the car:
- Back away slowly if you can, but don’t run. Running could trigger its predatory instincts.
- Stay calm and maintain eye contact. (I’m sure that’s easier said than done….)
- If it does approach you, try to intimidate it by waving your arms, throwing things, and making loud noises.
Needless to say, I’m glad my encounter today didn’t turn into anything worse, and I’ll definitely be okay if I never come across another coyote in the woods ever again.