Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

Coyote Camp

Marty’s photos of the day #3744-3747: My favorite of the three places Deb, Nellie, and I stayed at in the American Prairie Reserve was a yurt on the western side. The yurt didn’t have running water, but it still felt luxurious compared to our previous two stays. Our yurt had three sections: one section had four bedrooms (it slept 9), another section had a dry toilet (which kind of stunk), and the final section had a kitchen, dining area, and reading area.

At home, we allow Nellie on our furniture, but here that wasn’t allowed. So as soon as Nellie figured that out, she trotted down the hallway to our bedroom and fell asleep on my sleeping bag. Throughout our stay, Nellie actually put herself to bed multiple times—exhausted from whatever adventure we had completed outside.

We nicknamed this location “Coyote Camp,” because coyotes serenaded us through our first night and into the morning. Never before had I heard so many coyotes sing at once.

On our final night, Deb and I laid outside on the grass, watching the stars. Although the coyotes were strangely silent, it was a stunning evening. We watched for over an hour—my wife and I drinking adult beverages and Nellie chewing her bone.

If you look at the exterior picture of the yurt, you will see that we had a yard, surrounded by high grass and bushes. When it was time to go to bed, I scanned the edge of the yard with my flashlight, looking for eye-shine. In the distance, just inside the high grass, bright eyes glared back at me. Nellie saw them too.

“No, Nellie! No!” I yelled.

It was too late! She took off like a shot—her bone still in her mouth.

Normally Nellie comes right back when I call, but this time she disappeared into the grass. My heart pounded, as I feared the worst.

A few long seconds later she returned. And a second after that coyotes howled all around us!

Who knows how long the silent coyotes had us surrounded—watching us?

Once we got Nellie inside the yurt, I went back out after her bone, which she had dropped just before entering the high grass. I only had to walk forty-or-so yards, but in addition to some apprehension about the coyotes, the bats took advantage of the insects my flashlight attracted and dive-bombed me!

All that made for a memorable final night on the American Prairie Reserve. And once again, the coyotes serenaded us until dawn.

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