By mid-June, he and his sons had trapped all of the pack but the big
male. As it was too warm to skin them out, they kept the coyotes alive
in a hutch fashioned from high-gauge wire and covered with a crude
roof of thatched cedar boughs; they meant to keep them there until the
weather turned cool.
Now the change was happening. The maples burned red on the hillsides above the farm, and the wind had turned dry and crisp. It was the
end of September, and the frosts were coming. Soon Waldreve and his
sons would kill the coyotes and skin them and take the green fleeces to
the fur auction in Ceralvo. All that remained was the big male, who was
older and smarter than the others and who couldn’t be caught.
Until it all finally came to this: Waldreve’s two grown sons walking
up from the east pasture with the morning sun at their backs and their
shadows jerking before them as they brought the coyote into the yard,
the eldest, Vance, yanking it along at the end of his catchpole while his
brother, Philip, followed behind bearing their father’s British Enfield rifle.
Waldreve had traded a scrap corn harvester to a farmhand named
Feight for the gun forty years ago. Now he sat in the swing under the
yard trees—Bradford pears and red-leaf plums his wife, Corella, had
wanted—not watching the boys or even so much the coyote but keeping
his eyes on the rifle, and he smiled to recall the deal with old Feight so
“You took that poor bastard for a ride,” his friends at the feedmill had
chided. They knew the harvester was near worthless compared to the
antique firearm. But Waldreve, his tall black Stetson fixed on his head
like a weathervane, crowed righteous laughter.
“Didn’t nobody make him trade,” he said. “Folks got to make their
He felt this true of all creation, including the large coyote his sons now
dragged into the yard. Waldreve had used one of the bitches to trap him.
When she came into heat, Waldreve led her up a rocky draw at the far
end of the property and then slit her throat and placed her carcass just
behind the pit where he’d laid a long spring trap, and now the coyote was
being brought before him as proof that fate favored nothing save what
couldn’t be swayed by the throb of blood and passion.
“Here it is, Pop,” said Philip. “Last of the wild cattle thieves.”
Waldreve stood, rising slowly. He was quite tall. Though old now,
his face brown and beaten like chewed dirt, he still retained something