Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coyote Attack

It was nearing 5:30 on a mid-August evening and I was watching a meadow where a herd of whitetail does and fawns were feeding along with two spike bucks. Suddenly a large coyote came into the meadow.  The Panasonic GH4 was sitting on the tripod nearby with the Canon 100-400mm IS L lens attached by means of the Metabones Speed Booster. I carefully moved into position behind it and began filming.  As I filmed I alternated between filming in 4K and the special ETC mode which this camera features.  With it a 1080P frame is read from the central portion of the sensor, which results in greatly increased ability to shoot at long ranges and still get frame filling  footage.

This was a large animal with wolf-like features. Some , including many  PGC officials, consider the coyotes in our area to actually be Eastern Brush Wolves as they bear more of a resemblance to small wolves than they do to the western coyotes.

The coyote showed no inclination to attack the large extended family group of deer as it slowly stalked through the meadow , but as it neared the tree line at the far edge of the meadow it sniffed the air and picked up the scent of a small spike buck that was feeding out of sight over a rise in the meadow.  The coyote trotted toward the spike and as it came over the rise it launched an attack on the deer, but then aborted it at the last moment before contact.  I can only speculate that it began the incident with the intention of driving home the attack if it was a fawn, but after getting close, realized there was no chance of successfully killing a deer that large and broke off the attack.

I am perhaps my own worst critic and I was extremely disgusted that I bobbled the camera at the crucial moment of the attack, but it was easy to fall into the pitfall which caused the problem.  As it was I was filming in the ETC mode because the coyote was far enough away that he did not look impressive on the monitor screen, so at the moment of the attack I had too much magnification and too narrow of a field of view to follow the action and smoothly film the happening.  As soon as the coyote broke off the attack I shifted to 4K in case he followed up on the attack, but instead he went into the woods.  In retrospect I would have been better off had I filmed the entire segment in 4K and then cropped the footage in post production, or once I was committed to ETC mode I should not have changed the camera to 4K after the attack as had things continued I would have missed a lot of the action as it takes awhile for the camera to be ready to shoot after making this change (because of the external monitor). This is only a few seconds , but that can cover a lot when things are moving quickly.  It would have been better to have stayed in ETC and simply zoomed out a bit, but that is the mistakes one makes.

Regardless of the mistakes and less than perfect filming, I still got some decent footage, and the memory of the event is one that I will treasure for a lifetime. At the end of the day that is really what it is all about anyway.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Jessica Allen said...

Thank you for sharing -- and no need to apologize about the footage, most of us may never witness anything like this...seeing your footage provides us w/ that opportunity. The video is great!

Plus, my ten-year-old son always reminds me (when batteries die or I leave WITHOUT a memory card)..."We can take a picture with our mind!" :)

Abraham Lincoln said...

I liked the short piece about the coyote.

A few years ago, a coyote trotted past our house on our street and disappeared around the corner. Never saw it before that time nor after it. I really think they come around looking for cats or other small animals left outside.

Woody Meristem said...

That's a great video, you were really fortunate to be a the right place at the right time.

Our coyotes carry some Algonquin wolf genes that their ancestors picked up as they moved across southern Canada; they should more properly be called coywolves. In general they're larger with stronger jaws than western coyotes. a tremendously adaptable critter, they'll eat fruit, garbage, carrion, small mammals and birds and deer if they can catch and kill them. I'm glad to see them here and they certainly add interest and some balance to the natural world. Take a look at this website -- http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/coywolf-meet-the-coywolf/8605/

Linda Gross said...

Great video capture! Does Vimeo allow you to crop your video input?

Willard said...

Woody, Thanks for the information and for sending the link.

Linda, All I know is that I crop it in Sony Vegas and then render the file out in a 1080P file that is acceptable to Vimeo. As far as I know you can not crop or process footage that you upload to Vimeo, by applying this to the uploaded video--it would have to be done in your video production software. I know they do offer the option to further optimize your video for best appearance, but this is likely just a color and levels tweak, and I never allow this to be done.

Also thanks to Jessica and Abe for sharing their experiences.

Phyllis Oller said...

The video is great. My friends who are farmers here in Pa. have been seeing a group of coyotoes that look nothing like each other.People in the area have been trapping them.phyllis

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