By Darlene Arvizu
I knew that they had introduced the Mexican wolf back into the wild. I knew that there was a coyote problem near my property, particularly because of the chickens I raise. I raise me some beautiful buff orpingtons and marans, they lay some big eggs and they’re sweet. I get them their favorite snack: corn on the cob. They come right up to me like I’m Moses or something. Follow me around the yard. I got me about forty – the boy, “Tex” – he keeps to himself but he gives me some fine ladies that lay plenty.
Since it was the fall season the girls were beginning to molt, you know, their feathers come off for a new plumage. Anyway, the girls weren’t laying much so I had to rake the coop up once a week to get rid of the feathers. Now this situation actually occurred over two nights: As I went to the coop I noticed a long trail of dried blood that moved from the coop out into the grassland and mesquite trees that surrounded my yard. From the coop there was a side panel that had been ripped in half FROM THE TOP down. Something that happen to reach about eight feet had taken the panel and pulled it down. On the siding were deep heavy claw marks, like a bear’s claw. The chickens were nowhere to be seen. I had gotten worried since they are my primary source of income after retirement.
I followed the blood trail. The only thing I had with me was my rake. I held it like a spear, ready to encounter anything that came about. The first thing I picked up from the grass was a chicken foot, torn at the thigh and stuck with grass shards and blood. I put it in my apron and went further into the grass. Keep in mind this was early morning so I knew there were still coyotes hunting and I didn’t want them to have any taste of my girls to keep them returning for more. Besides the side panel being torn open, I had made the assumption it was just a coyote that had somehow crawled in from the top and broke the panel.
But then I turned around a tree and there it was! A big, hairy thing, looking at me from the grass. I can see it’s large shoulders slunk in, keeping a low profile. It’s pointy ears had black tips, like a lynx and it had deep dark eyes that glinted in the sunlight. It just stared at me. I held up the rake and spun it in my hand toward the beast. It didn’t flinch. As I bent down to pick up a rock it began to move. By the time I grabbed a heavy stone the beast had disappeared into the thick grass toward a creek.
As I came to the kill site I had found three of my girls mauled up and eaten. Feathers were everywhere. I wasn’t really afraid of the whole situation, more shocked really.
I returned to find that my girls had hidden in a pile of wood near the house. I picked one up and held it – the feathers were cold, telling me she and the others had been there all night. I managed to fix the panel and put in some reinforcement screws to keep back the animals.
Since I am a lonely girl I decided to spend the night outside under the stars near the coop. I had me a trusty six-shooter filled with snake shot. I didn’t want to hurt anything or anybody but I figure a few pellets in the butt would shy away any hungry predator. That night I had made a fire by the coop to keep warm. As I was dozing off I smelt a musky odor and as soon as it reached my nostrils the girls began to make noise – as if something was spooking them.
I slouched up from the ground and looked across the flames of the fire – in the distance, at the grassline, I can see two black eyes staring at me. Before I could grab hold of my shooter, it disappeared, convert like. The girls settled down and I stayed awake all night before calling the sheriff.
-Darlene Arvizu (Arivaca resident, artist and chicken farmer)
“Baboquivari Monster” encounter interview, recorded December 2016