The Truth About the Quail-Hunting Coyote

It's Monday, which means, of course, that we get to find out the truth about the alleged quail-hunting coyote of western Oklahoma

Although a majority of the comments expressed either skepticism or outright disbelief, the poll numbers revealed an almost statistical dead heat, with 49 percent believers versus 50 percent non-believers, out of 160 (so far) votes cast. Interestingly, what seemed to sway many of the nay comments was the alleged rigidity of the coyote in the pose. Many of you thought it was either stuffed or Photoshopped.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the skeptics (which is my natural inclination as well) but the story of Wylie the bird-hunting coyote is one hundred percent...TRUE. It was published in the Oklahoman on Feb. 15, 1998. From the story:

Max Montgomery can't honestly say Wylie is his best bird dog, but that's partly because Wylie isn't a dog. Wylie is a coyote. Montgomery, a 50-year-old western Oklahoma rancher, adopted the coyote when it was only a pup soon after its mother was shot and killed by another man. _Montgomery hoped to raise it as a pet. Not only did that work out, but Wylie amazed his owner by quickly taking up with - and emulating - the six bird dogs on the place. Now, at younger than a year old, Wylie sometimes beats them at their own game. With his blaze orange collar and his tail spray-painted the same color for safety in the field, he's becoming known as a bird-hunting coyote.

"I've never penned him up and never had a rope or anything on him. He's free to go if he wants. And I never dreamed you could hunt with him," Montgomery said. When Wylie started tagging along on quail hunts, and proved not to be a bit gun shy, Montgomery began encouraging the coyote to keep learning. "He catches on quick," Montgomery said. "He's eight months old, and an eight-month-old bird dog ain't worth a flip. He's got a lot better nose than a bird dog." The coyote works differently than a bird dog, Montgomery said. He doesn't point in the classic fashion, but he does "freeze" in his tracks at the right time. And often he lollygags behind, letting the dogs expend their energy up ahead, until they act like they've found something interesting._

I remember reading about Wylie at the time the story came out, but had forgotten about it entirely until a few days ago when I found a reference to it on the Upland Journal forums. In a stroke of serendipity, the viral e-mail story went up on the F&S homepage at the same time and I thought it would be a perfect addendum.

Had I not seen the story in a real newspaper I probably wouldn't have believed it myself. It just goes to show that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction...