Backwoods Buzz

Backwoods Buzz

Backwoods Buzz


Jack Stannard

Around here, late winter is the time to hear the calls of coyotes, turkeys and owls. Newcomers to Vermont are sometimes unprepared for the unearthly ‘come to supper’ yodels of a real, live, nature-in-the-raw pack of coyotes. “It’s like all the burglar alarms in town going off together” said a friend, who confessed that the family huddled in bed in alarm, as did the family dog. But not all family dogs are frightened by the vocalizations of coyotes. When a dog is loose and goes after the coyote there will probably be dire consequences, even for a dog as large as a shepherd. Coyotes howl to mark their territory, keep others away, attract a mate; or it may be a good, old-fashioned family get together. A number of years ago I ago I went fishing at Bourn Pond situated in the Lye Brook Wilderness area. The trail begins at the parking area for Branch Pond. That morning it held five or six large non-resident camper vehicles when I arrived and parked. Leaving my car, I started up the trail with my gear; it was 3 a.m. After perhaps a hundred or so yards, the night erupted in a chorus of howls from a pack of coyotes right in the parking lot behind me. I howled back at them which they found inspiring. Our conversation kept going for easily two minutes.

Our most common owl is the barred owl. These birds mate and live in a territory of which they are most protective. If it is invaded, they raise a din of “who-ha-has” (translation: “get out of my space!”) The call of a horned owl triggers a vociferous raucous warning from the barred owls. Later in the winter and early spring, these owl outbursts are often followed by a gobble from an annoyed tom turkey. Sometimes if you’re walking an old logging trail at night, and are fairly stealthy about it, you might walk under a tree with a barred owl in it.. The bird will fire off a hooting blast that will make anyone jump. – Jack Stannard

Stannard is a longtime Dorset native who has hunted, hiked and explored most of the area. He was a member of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Boards and past president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. He promotes conservation and appreciation of the outdoors.


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