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I really love coyotes. I know, not everyone is a fan, but I can’t help it – they’re one of my favorite animals.

I think the reason for this favoritism might stem from my admiration of the aerial pounce they sometimes use when pursuing prey. Their approach is decidedly cat-like in its execution and incredibly graceful to watch. For example…

I discovered this coyote while driving through Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley after a late lunch. I spotted him and excitedly pulled over, hoping he’d find it in his heart to cooperate with us for a bit. I had hopes of getting a few nice “posed” shots of him majestically surveying the meadow – little did I know what was in store.

As we approached he stopped and stared very intently on a small area of vegetation – no doubt a mouse had tried to scurry away but waited too long to make his move. The coyote crouched down, cat-like, gave a slight wag with his entire body, and sprang into the air. The pounce was flawless as he fell upon on his prey and came up with a meal.

He was a pouncer!!

Now I was excited. Not all coyotes are pouncers, many just sneak up and snag from behind in a hurried, brute fashion that’s anything but graceful – but this particular ‘yote seemed to favor a dramatic leap to catch his dinner. The first pounce was a bit too far out for a good photo, but I knew if I could get closer I might have a shot.

Sure enough, he allowed a closer approach and I was able to secure several really solid pounce photos. This is one of my favorites – he wasn’t too far away and he’s completely horizontal a split second before the kill. This particular pounce actually yielded two photos – the one above and one I’ll post down the road. Oh, and yes, he did manage to snag a mouse on this pounce too – he actually only missed his mark once out of five tries. Probably the reason he was such an impressive looking animal.

All in all we only spent about 20 minutes with this guy, but it was probably one of the most productive 20 minutes of my wildlife photography career.

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