I live in the mountains, and when I say that, I mean that I live miles away from the nearest small town and surrounded by woods. True, my little holler is more crowded than it was when I was a child (there are now six houses within close walking distance of one another instead of two), but we're still country out here.

One of the interesting and sometimes cool things about living in the woods is the number and variety of wild animals I regularly see. Deer are frequently spotted grazing in an old pasture just down the road, and we also see a lot of wild turkeys. And of course, snakes, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and other "vermin" are abundant.

There are also coyotes.

Coyotes have been a concern for us for several years now--we have cattle, and a hungry pack has been known to take down a calf or two. Coyotes also kill chickens, cats, and small dogs. They killed my neighbor's weiner dog just last summer and were rumoured to have killed a calf. Despite this, I've never really given the coyotes much thought. Until today.

This afternoon, I heard a coyote howl. That, in and of itself, was just kind of cool. But the response... I've heard people describe a coyote's howl as eerie, and the responding howls I heard today certainly fit that description. Some of them did sound quite like human screams. I am not easily spooked, but those howls, even coming as they did in the middle of the afternoon, made me uneasy. I think it was a beautiful but terrible noise. And while I remain unafraid, I am, perhaps, a little more wary of the local pack.
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