We struck gold one day at Point Reyes recently, when we watched a coyote dramatically dig a gopher out of its hole.
At first the coyote was sniffing around in that canine way, randomly checking out his favorite spots in the grassy field. We were on a broad ridge, a windy ridge, with the Pacific Ocean to our left and Drakes Bay to the right.
He was quite far away, ambling closer.
It was mid-afternoon when the road is fairly busy, we couldn’t just stop and watch. Fortunately there was a pause in traffic, and I was able to stop the car and quickly pull over; the berm was flat and wide and not too soft. There was a large electronic traffic sign on the roadside we could park in front of without impeding traffic or attracting attention.
Other cars whizzed by while we watched the cool and silent drama unfold.
Athena captured these photos from the car’s open window.
We marveled at his lustrous coat, so thick. It was January and he had on his winter coat. Beautiful bushy tail.
It is a sad thing to see wild mammals who have suffered from drought, starvation or injury; visible ribs, wavering gait, ghostly countenance.
This wild mammal was robust and confident.
We had only been watching about five minutes when he found something–he stood tense and alert, engaged. His nose was, literally, to the ground.
He dug so feverishly that soon his front legs were deep inside the hole. Digging, relentless and urgent digging.
The coyote was very aware of us, but had more important things on his mind. We stayed in the car and let him be.
He continued to dig…and then it all stopped. We couldn’t see at first what he was crouched over.
He was bent over something. Then he came out of the hole and lifted his head, gnawed and chomped. We saw a limp, muddy lump between his jaws.
Got a gopher.
It was covered with mud, very black mud, must’ve been deep in the burrow.
Canis latrans are primarily carnivorous and have a wide diet; small, burrowing mammals are one of their common prey. He had probably injured the gopher, trapped it.
The whole event lasted about two minutes.
Native American folklore calls coyote “the trickster.”
And there was something to this, because out of nowhere, just after he finished his last bite, a second coyote appeared.
It was obvious the two of them knew each other, there was no strain, tension or posturing.
As they left us and walked off, our gopher warrior was easily recognizable: he kept licking his chops, reliving his tasty snack.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.
70 thoughts on “Coyote gets a Gopher”
What a lucky spot! Wonderful photos, I especially loved the chop smacking!
Yes, I especially liked the chop smacking, too, Cathy. Thanks for your visit today.
Our coyotes need to get more gophers out here. Great coyote action catch.
Thanks, Timothy. You know how action shots go…we humans have to be on the lookout at all times. Great fun to witness.
Always need to be alert.
This certainly is one of the prettiest coyotes I’ve seen — and a fine, skilled hunter!
I agree, Linda, this coyote was a beauty and impressively skilled, too. Thanks very much.
What an encounter you two had! Excellent narrative in your post and absolutely luminous photos of the Coyote, look at that lustrous coat.
Thanks very much, Babsje. It was a great honor to witness this beautiful coyote on his successful hunt . Thanks for your visit and kind words.
You guys were in the right place at the right time, great find!
Thanks, John. Yes, we were pretty lucky to have come upon this coyote.
Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful place to be at just the right time. 😊👏🏽
Yes, it was a great scene to watch unfold. Thanks very much, Pepper.
What an amazing capture Jet and Athena! Loved the unfolding drama ❣️
It was great fun to watch this coyote drama unfold. I’m glad I could share it with you, Val. Thank you.
Too bad rats infest cities. There would be very fat Coyotes laying about If they were in the countryside!
I’m glad I could share the coyote drama with you today, Wayne. Thanks for stopping by.
Nice to see such a healthy looking specimen. Great shots of the hunt, Athena! 🥰
Yes, we too were very pleased to see such a healthy coyote pair, Gunta. Always a joy to have you stop by, thank you.
They all serve a purpose. I feel sorry for the gopher, but coyotes have to eat too.
Yes, the gopher didn’t have much of a chance with this excellent hunter. Thanks for your visit today, Anneli.
Great capture – photographically and narratively! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks very much, dear Nan. A joy to share the coyote scene with you. It’s not far from where we were with you and Bill on your most recent visit.
Amazing pictures and narrative! He looked so healthy and well-fed, no doubt a good hunter. I also enjoyed the picture of the black-tailed deer, a bit different than our white-tails. Having the ocean in the background made a stunning scene.
Yes, that photo Athena captured of the deer on the edge of the cliff is a beauty, I’m glad you enjoyed it, Barbara. Always a joy to have you stop by, thank you.
Great sighting! He does look healthy. It was a great catch for him too. Great images as well!
Thank you, Deborah. Wonderful to share this coyote scene with you today.
Fascinating photo sequence, Athena and Jet! Glad the ecosystem is working well, judging from this coyote’s fine health and hunting ability.
Yes, we, too, were happy to see that the coyotes are in good shape and sharp with their hunting skills. My warmest thanks, Eliza, always a pleasure to have you stop by.
What an exciting incident you and Athena managed to capture! Very raw, like the gopher, and, as others have commented, great to see such healthy specimens. Tremendous settings and action.
Right, it’s lunchtime here, and this hasn’t put me off…
A fun comment, pc, thank you. I’m glad the gopher-eating coyote sequence didn’t put you off from your lunch. Gave me a smile, thanks.
Wow! You were at the right time and place to catch the action.
Yes, it was great fun to watch this wildlife scene play out, Sherry. Glad to share it with you, thanks for stopping by.
What a dramatic sequence. Beautifully captured.
As you well know, Belinda, you never know what we’re going to find in nature. Thanks very much.
Awesome sighting with great photos! Lucky nature day for you both. 😄👏🏻
You know Pt. Reyes well, Jane, and there it is always a lucky nature day. My warmest thanks.
Coyotes are like wild dogs, they are abundant also, they were in Georgia also. Here in Florida, we have a black bear, that comes from the forests and when is cold they go to the city and destroy the garbage containers, leaving a whole mess with garbage all over. all my neighbors know about it, they complain to the County, all animals are protected and you can not harm any of them. I’m preparing my backyard to be enclosed maybe in a couple of months from now. I have to remove many trees first. I loved your post, Point Reyes is becoming your favorite, no? Thank you, my friend. 🙂
Hi H.J., yes we are definitely enjoying Pt. Reyes more than ever. I’m glad you enjoyed the coyote post, H.J., thanks for stopping by.
Tasty to a coyote! I’ll pass.🤢
Yes, that coyote had a wonderful treat that day, and it was great fun to see him licking his lips and the tasty delight. Thank you Eilene.
Wow how cool to be there!!! I wonder if gophers taste like chicken?😉
I doubt I’ll ever know what a gopher tastes like, but I like the chicken joke, Bill. Glad you enjoyed the coyote post, thank you, as always.
Gophers are obviously much easier to catch than roadrunners!
Yes, I would think roadrunners would be nearly impossible to catch. Wiley E. Coyote sure had difficulties with them. Wonderful to hear from you, Mick, thanks very much.
That is a well fed specimen. You have a capable long focus lens.
Yes, Athena’s long lens, Canon 100-400, is definitely capable. Though, as photographers will be, she is always wanting a bigger one, as you no doubt can relate, Michael Stephen. Many thanks.
I love this post. Reminds me of a simpler time in my life when I could just observe wildlife without some other looming deadline to rush off to.
Thanks, Craig. We have to carve out our nature and observing time or it all gets swept away into deadlines. I know you know that very well. I’m glad this post gave you a gentle reminder. Cheers, my friend.
It’s hard to imagine a gopher as a tasty treat! But if you’re starving … your patience really paid off.
Yes, a muddy gopher is not my cup of tea either, Jan. But that coyote sure was happy and satiated. Great to hear from you, thanks so much.
Beautiful pictures and wonderful vivid description of the account of a coyote feeding.
I’m glad you enjoyed the coyote post, TeaFairy. Thanks for stopping by today.
What a great encounter and wonderful bit of Nature you and Athena witnessed and captured, Jet. I guess one might say that this Coyote was a gopher gofer. 🙂
Always a joy to hear from you, Steve, and thanks for giving me a smile with your play on words. Cheers to you.
Amazing capture ~ what a great moment to have watched nature in action and to bring it to us in both words and photos.
Thank you, Randall, your visit and kind words are much appreciated.
Reading your great story combined with those amazing photos puts me in the
place where the coyotes roam. I see the eagerness in their eyes to feast on
one more kill. It makes their day! Great photos, great sights, interesting story!
You just made my day, dear Eddie, and it’s only 7am. I love hearing the coyote post brought you into the coyote’s world. Sending a big smile your way, and my warmest thanks.
Smiles and thanks being returned! Enjoy your weekend dear friend!
Beautiful coyote, trickster, carnivore, and gopher gourmet! Congrats on recording such a wondrous encounter.
Dear Walt, thank you for your visit and lovely words…much appreciated.
You can tell by its coat/body shape that coyote is an experienced hunter – what a great behavioral experience to capture! I’m with Tim, we need that skillset up here – maybe they can visit here once a year and keep our gopher/chipmunk population under control. The packs around here focus more on squirrels and other larger “misfits” for nourishment and turn a blind eye to our peskier varmints. Thanks for sharing a wonderful experience.
Always a delight, Brian, to have you stop by. I’m really glad I got to share with you the excitement of the masterful coyote and his gopher capture. Thanks for your visit and wonderful comment.
In Colorado, you learn to give coyotes a very wide berth. Make eye contact with them, or camera contact, they will follow you until something else catches their eye. They’re quite excellent hunters in the urban-wildland interface.
Regarding their “trickster” reputation, that is part of their place in Native American lore. In the Four Corners, they are part of the skinwalker/shapeshifter ‘legend’ (legend for the lack of a better word).
Thank you, Deborah, I’m glad you enjoyed the coyote post.
Coyotes are so adorable looking.
Nonetheless, I won’t leave my cats out.
Great shots and a slice of nature life!
So wonderful to have you stop by, today, Resa, I have enjoyed all your comments. I’m happy you liked the coyote post.