The Coyote Camp

Coyote camp is a very special place for me. There is just nothing else that matches the freedom of wandering the far lonely places and camping wherever I end up at the end of the day. Just to get up early the next morning and do it all over again. Free as the wind to go wherever I please.

Simple fair weather cot camp
Simple fair weather cot camp
Roadside motel
Roadside motel

I spend a lot of nights every year “camping”. Besides camping out amongst ’em while coyote hunting, I do a good bit of wandering around remote areas throughout the year, just to see what I can see. Averaging around 50 nights a year in a sleeping bag, for the past several decades.

That’s quite a bit of camping. Over a long period of time. I have it nailed down pretty high speed and low drag for how I personally like to roll.

But it’s probably a bit different than what most people tend to think of as “camping”. It might be better described as bivouacking, more than camping. But, I call it camping.

Random anonymous coyote camp
Random anonymous coyote camp
Tent camp at night
Tent camp at night

On a coyote hunt and most of my other exploring trips, camp is just a place to stop and eat dinner and sleep for the night. Often as not, I won’t be making camp until dark or just before dark and I’ll have camp fully stowed and be ready to roll again by first light.

Most of these camps are in spots I’ve never camped before and probably won’t ever camp again. A lot of them, I think nobody has ever camped before or will again.

Cot camp under the stars
Cot camp under the stars
Typical coyote camp
Typical coyote camp

Rolling new country, in the dark, I’m not the least bit picky about where to make camp. Just damn near any spot that is kinda flat and big enough for my tent will do. I’m usually in lonely enough country that setting up a tent or a cot right in the middle of the road works fine if need be.

Typical bivouac
Tent in the middle of the road – no worries of anyone driving along
Tim in coyote camp
Tim in coyote camp
Coyote camp packed in Tim's Tacoma
Coyote camp packed in Tim’s Tacoma
Open grassy area makes easy camp site selection
Open grassy area makes easy camp site selection

In fair weather, I usually don’t use a tent. Simply setting my sleeping bag on a cot under the stars. Cot camps are my favorite as I love sleeping under the stars and these camps are almost instant to setup and take down.

Sunrise on a cot camp
Sunrise on a cot camp
Me and Tim in our cots
Cot camp setup after midnight
A cozy fair weather cot camp
A cozy fair weather cot camp
Rocks to hold bag down in ferocious wind
Rocks to hold bag down in ferocious wind

My needs are minimal. But, I won’t abide suffering, either. I stay warm, dry and well fed in these quick and easy one night camps.

Camp, all of it – tent, bedding, cook stove, table, chairs etc., needs to be very fast and easy to deploy. Even in the dark in any kind of weather. No crappy zippers or fussy fasteners or gear that fights cold fingers. Everything needs to be dead simple easy and reliable.

Twenty-six below freezing
Twenty-six below freezing, fast and easy setup and a good warm meal
Gear that works in the cold
Gear that works in the cold and snow
Weather like this is a non issue
Weather like this is a non issue
Nice flat spot found at sunset
Nice flat spot found at sunset

Experience goes as far as equipment choice when it comes to setting up efficiently in challenging conditions. Using your gear many, many times, teaches you how to deploy it without needing to even think about what goes where or how it goes together when you are dog tired and it’s freezing cold blowing snow in the middle of the night.

My current kit hasn’t changed much for about 20 years now. So besides being made up of easy to use gear, I’m real used to all of it, too.

Dry lake bed makes excellent camp site
Dry lake bed makes excellent camp site
Sometimes it's nice to have a fire
Sometimes it’s nice to have a fire
Camp with a view
Camp with a view

In good weather with daylight, by myself, it’s 15 minutes from turning off the Jeep, to have my tent and bed completely setup, and a delicious rib eye steak sizzling in butter. That’s without trying to hurry.

If I’m kicking away snow, setting up in pitch dark, in a blizzard, it takes a little bit longer. But still well under 30 minutes to be sitting comfortably on my cot cooking a rib eye in my toasty warm tent.

Because camp is so minimal and fast and easy to deploy, I can hunt or explore right up until it’s almost too dark to see and have everything setup for a good nights sleep within minutes.

Coyotes on the rack and a cozy camp
Coyotes on the rack and a cozy camp
Dry lake beds are favored spots
Dry lake beds are favored spots
Lightning approaching camp
Lightning approaching camp
Typical view from coyote camp
Typical view from coyote camp

My camp needs to be as easy and fast to take down and pack up for travel as it is to setup. In truth, it takes me a few minutes longer to roll up the tent and stow the cot than it does to deploy them.

Typically, I’ll get up and get dressed, then start some water boiling for coffee. I can have the tent, cot and sleeping bag all down and just about stowed by the time the water boils. Pour a cup of coffee, start some more water boiling and finish packing up camp while the second pot boils. I usually have everything packed and am just waiting for that second pot to boil to fill the thermos so I can put the stove away.

Morning coffee shop
Camp is all packed up, coffee shop is open

About 20 minutes, from opening my eyes to having camp completely broke down and packed away in the Jeep, ready to roll. Big mug of hot coffee and whatever I decide to munch on for breakfast. Wheels up before first shooting light.

Cot camps are the easiest
Cot camps are the easiest
Only minutes to setup or take down
Only minutes to setup or take down cot camp

I eat good on these trips. My usual is a rib eye steak and a vegetable or salad for dinner. Steaks pack easy, travel well, are easy to cook and delicious! The perfect camp food. Breakfast is on the run, granola bars or pastries or maybe use some hot water to make oatmeal. But I don’t normally take the time to cook in the morning – I’m moving before first light. Lunch is whatever floats my boat – cold fried chicken, cold cut sandwiches, whatever.

Simple camp, incredible scenery
Simple camp, incredible scenery
Ribeye steaks never get old
Ribeye steaks never get old, note stove, table and chair setup in the middle of the road
Camp visitor
Camp visitor
Cookstove on the tailgate
Cookstove on the tailgate, fridge and grub box handy

One of the best gear purchases I have ever made is the ARB fridge/freezer I carry all my perishables and cold drinks in. Never have to worry about melting ice or soggy food. Way, way better than any ice chest. Mine is nine years old now, so it has more than paid for itself in the ice I haven’t bought. And it’s been through tens of thousands of miles of rough offroad use. It often rides in the back of a pickup truck open to the weather and dust. It hasn’t had a hicup yet. But if it dies tomorrow I’ll buy another one the next day. The fridge is the way to go!

Big rock for a wind block
Big rock for a wind block
Dry, warm and comfortable
Dry, warm and comfortable
Any spot works here
Any spot works here
Lonely tent spot
Lonely tent spot the way I like them

For a grub box to carry all my utensils, pots, pans dry goods etc. I have a waterproof, dustproof, varmint proof, welded aluminum “river box”. It has served admirably for about 15 years now and still going strong.

For cook stove, just a plain old Coleman propane jobby. They don’t last forever, I’ve been through a few. This one is about six years old now and is probably about due for replacement. For the size and weight, they work great while they work though so I’ll get another one just like it.

The stove stand is one of my pieces of gear that has been in use the longest. I’ve had it for 37 years now.

Rain coming, no problem
Rain coming, no problem
Long abandoned pasture
Long abandoned pasture
Alpine camp
Alpine camp
Dry but single digit temps
Dry but single digit temps

The tent I use most is my old Springbar. It’s just big enough for two cots with an aisle in between them. A palace for just me. I’ve had it more than twenty years, so it has an awful lot of nights on it, and it shows. But it’s still keeping me warm and dry. Just smells a little funny is all, ha-ha-ha! And the coyote blood stains on it from riding in the back of the truck with dead coyotes too many times has given it a certain character, too.

Warm fire on a cold night
Warm fire on a cold night

My cot, is a Coleman brand from Walmart. It’s the kind that simply folds out, and has a mat held to the frame by springs. It has a steel frame which I have found lasts a lot longer than the ones with aluminum frames. But, these still only last me a few years each before the springs start falling off and getting lost and they get not as comfortable and I have to buy another.

The pad I use started as a Cabelas brand cot pad in a canvas cover. It worked great for a long time with the original foam pad. But, it got pretty soaked in coyote blood a couple times and got kind of funky. I washed the cover good and bought a new, denser piece of 3” foam to go in it and it has been even better than new since.

Sleeping bag, nothing special, just a Browning brand oversize, canvas covered, flannel lined bag with lots of room. I use the same one year round, simply leaving it unzipped in warm weather and wearing wool long johns to bed when it’s cold.

Another typical coyote camp
Another typical coyote camp

Can’t have a really comfy camp without a table and chairs. The chairs I use are very comfy and take only one second to deploy or fold up. They don’t weigh much and don’t take up as much space as you might think. I have the same ones for more than twenty years and they are starting to get pretty worn though. Not sure how many more years they have left in them. But, these are great.

Table, just a simple little folding aluminum job from Walmart. It has held up surprisingly well for over ten years now. But it too, like much of my kit, definitely shows it’s age and use. But, still going strong!

Moonrise at sunset
Moonrise at sunset
Beautiful coyote camp below zero
Beautiful coyote camp below zero

And that is all I’ve really needed to quickly get comfortable in any weather, get a good meal and a good nights sleep on well over a thousand nights out and about wherever I happen to end up.

What does your coyote camp look like?

Summary
Coyote Camp
Article Name
Coyote Camp
Description
Over a thousand nights in camp out wandering the desert looking for coyotes, coyote camp is a special place.
Author
Publisher Name
Coyotestuff.com
Publisher Logo

16 thoughts on “The Coyote Camp”

  1. Awesome Dave, you’ve got it going on out there. Back here, east of the Appalachians it is a little different as I am sure you know. Much envy, BUT I will make the best of it, as I am to old now to charge off to the western skies. I still enjoy what I am given. You enjoy yours as well DAA. You have been blessed.

  2. Dave
    Thank you for sharing your camp and photo’s you definitely have it going and share what appears to be a true outdoor adventure. Best of luck in the future and keep enjoying what you like doing life to short not to enjoy it to the fullest. Gotta appreciate how fast and easy those Flexbows go up.

  3. Dave, as usual, your pictures and stories are top notch, and help fill lots of needs for fellow hunters. My favorites are the ones that capture the beauty of the western night sky. It just can’t get any better than that, really reviving my memory of a bowhunt for mule deer I had years ago in Utah.

    Having a good friend like old Tim adds a lot to the whole deal, and you both are lucky. Keep up the good work.

    1. Al, having a good friend like Tim adds a TON to the whole deal. Tim and I have seen more country together, covered more dusty miles, seen more of the far lonely reaches of the Great Basin that just about any other two people that ever lived. That’s no exaggeration! We have been running around hunting and fishing together since we were teenagers.

      Tim has never owned a computer or even a cell phone. So he doesn’t come online, at all. But I envy him in that, sometimes. Anyway, here’s a few scanned photos of me and Tim way back in the day. These all would have been from 1982 to 1987.

      A fresh faced young Tim.  You can see the beard is nothing new, lol!

  4. Great pictures and info as always. Not anywhere near enough undeveloped public land for “coyote camps” in this part of the county. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. Jody, I do feel truly blessed to live in the middle of so much public land. It’s changing, going away, getting sold and developed bit by bit. Not going to last forever. But I have been lucky enough to live my life in a time when it has been possible to wander offroad for days at a time, travelling hundreds of miles on dirt, all on public land without ever seeing another person.

  5. Well heck Dave…. excellent read as always!!!! The only thing I can add to all this is… “hot cherry turnovers in the Pie Iron”.

  6. Great post and photos Dave. Anyone who’s ever worked as a denner can truly appreciate how streamlined you’ve gotten your camp setup to be. I know I try hard to have it down that smoothly. Great job showing how you do it.

  7. Great post Dave, my brother and I are currently touring around the west looking for chucks and coyotes. Our camp is not quite as streamlined so thanks for the tips.

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