by Mark Hinman
(Oxford, NY, USA)
Slowly the coyote crept along the brush trying to stay hidden from his prey just feet away. Each step calculated carefully not to make a sound. Each paw slowly lifted and placed back down before the next one even left the ground. The wind was kind to the coyote this day. She was downwind of a nice southerly breeze that lead her to the prey.
The head was down as it drank from the cool mountain stream. It could see its reflection in the crystal clear water. The sound of the forest surrounded the animal masking the enemies approach from behind. It twisted its head and sniffed the air. There was no sign of danger. It lowered its head back down to take in more of the cool water. Thirst had driven the animal out of the thicket where it was safe from predators. One more check of the wind and it took one more drink. But it was already too late. The coyote sprang from its hidden position with a mighty burst of speed. At the last second the animal caught a glimpse of the charging carnivore. It froze for just a half a second, as if hoping time could stand still while it planned its escape.
But that getaway would never come as the coyote strong jaw clamped down on its neck. The hare could feel the pressure of the teeth break the skin as it tried desperately to kick with its powerful hind legs to get free. Tighter the coyote mashed down on the hare’s neck till it was lifeless dangling from the jaws. Her pups would eat well tonight as she proudly set off for the den to feed them this day’s bounty.