Despite wanting to keep him indoors, Blackjack the cat attacked and jumped at the doorknob every morning with such fervor, and while some controversy surrounds letting a cat outside ( a friend of mine thinks that you should be required to purchase a hunting license if you let a cat outside) , he seemed to love being outside so much that I acquiesced to his demands and let him outside every day. He was an adopted from the shelter cat, and he had come a long way behavior-wise since coming into my home. Although I had never been particularly fond of cats, he was pretty special, and I had grown accustomed to him sitting on my lap at night kneading with his paws. He was usually there waiting for me each day when I got home, except this particular afternoon, he was not waiting for me. I wasn’t too worried when he didn’t come running after I called, but by dusk I was getting very concerned about his whereabouts. I strapped on the headlamp and followed his usual morning path into the woods. After a short walk of scanning the woods floor, in a little clearing I came across the tale. There were scuff marks in ground, and evidence of a short fight with some tufts of black hair that convinced me of my cat’s fate. Following the bent grass I came across fresh coyote tracks and that further cemented my theory that coyotes had got my cat. Although I know that the coyote was only following his instincts revenge immediately came to mind – an eye for an eye as it were…you took from me, now I will take from you. I thought about it, and decided to set a trap in the woods behind the house beyond where my cat was killed, which is legal here in Maine, and see what happened. Several days of checking went by with nothing happening, until early one morning I awoke to noises out back. I immediately went outside and heard the ticking of the trap pan and knew I had something. The headlamp revealed a huge coyote, which I quickly dispatched. End of story? This is when the story really began to get interesting. Four other coyotes were still in the woods, and were not leaving. About 50 yards out in a semicircle they howled and barked for almost a half hour before finally reluctantly turning back into the woods. I figured by the rukus the others were making I had caught the pack leader as well. Curious, and now intrigued, I threw some large bait out back after it snowed a couple of days later to see if and when they would return. It took two weeks before I saw tracks in the snow and the bait had been dug up and dragged back into the woods. I kept putting bait behind the house and began following the pack – I learned a lot about where they slept and the trails they used around the area, and saw some places that I didn’t know existed out there in the woods. Once January and coyote breeding season arrived I noticed something funny – there were coyote tracks that would come in from a side trail and mingle with the pack for a while before leaving on another side trail. They were big and heavy prints, and looked like a big coyote. One morning a couple of days later, shortly after leaving for work a big blonde coyote ran out in front of me. I decided to be late for work and followed him into the woods for a bit, and the tracks matched the ones I was seeing that were mingling in with the pack. A couple of weeks went by and the pack seemed to have accepted him, his tracks stayed with theirs and stopped leaving and returning, and their catnap beds in the snow returned to five from the four I had being seeing before. It seemed he was now one of there own. Then, one cold night in February I was sitting in my chair having a drink in the evening, when suddenly a coyote howl split the night like an emergency siren. It sounded like it was inside the house it was so loud. I quickly ran to the back door, grabbing my coyote howler on the way and flicked on the back light to reveal that blonde coyote just on the edge of the woods in the backyard looking and howling at the house. Chills ran up my spine as I watched him. I put the call to my lips and howled back. He sat still for a few minutes and with one more mournful howl turned back in to the woods and I never saw him again near the house. In my mind I believe he became the new pack leader that breeding season, and he was telling me the pack and I were even.