The coyote piece evidently resonated with some readers, in particular the painting I used for illustration. It is by a man named Tom Quinn (if you do an internet search of his name, be sure to add “wildlife artist” to the search, because there are several other people out there with the same name, including another artist) and I just sent in a profile of him to one of the magazines I write for. As soon as they publish it, I will put it up on this site. In the meantime, he is, hands down, the greatest living wildlife artist alive today. Anywhere. Period. Unlike so many artists who become successful and then try to capitalize on their success by replicating the qualities that made them successful (a specific topic, a specific place, whatever) Tom fights very hard to make each watercolor new and unique and individual, and when you add to that the fact that he does not mass-produce prints of his work (he only does occasional limited runs, and sometimes won’t even sell certain paintings he especially loves) he is not as rich as he should be in any right-thinking society that puts proper emphasis on art. His wife, Jeri, is equally gifted; the difference between them is that she works in oils and concentrates on magnificent landscapes of the northern California area where they live. (I tried to buy one of her small landscapes, but a slew of bills—medical, veterinary, tax, insurance, yadayadayada—came in and the project had be postponed.)
I have known Tom—in a long distance mail-and-telephone way—for about twenty years or more, ever since I bought a book he wrote on dogs (The Working Retriever: the Training, Care, and Handling of Retrievers for Hunting and Field Trials)
and if you can get your hands on a copy, either the original first edition or the reprint, snap it up at any price, if you can possibly afford it. It is one of the best training books I have ever read, and it is illustrated with his own art, making it the kind of book you will spend happy hours drooling over, simply enjoying his work. He also has an art book out (The Art of Thomas Quinn) that has the kind of paintings that will fill you with wonder and delight. He really is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind genius. And a damned nice man.
L.B. is right when he says coyotes normally do not run in packs, but as he points out, “…coyotes regularly confound any and all established notions about them!” Making a long story short, I once (long ago when I was better able to do such things) had to go the rescue of a German shepherd who was attacked by coyotes. It was a long, confused fight that involved a gun, a baseball bat, three bull elk, three other dogs that had to be rescued first, and my covering a tremendous amount of rugged terrain on foot at high speed in my only good suit and my only dress shoes, all of which ended up considerably the worse for wear. But the point is, I knew back then, knew, for a calcified fact, that coyotes only ran in pairs, at most, but there were at least four and possibly a fifth involved in this encounter, and they were all coordinating very well with each other, thank you. Certainly, they were coordinating with each other far better than the German shepherd and I. Sometimes, when I watch the news and get spectacularly depressed at the cruelty and stupidity and cupidity of the human animal, it cheers me up to reflect that long after man has either reduced his numbers to Paleolithic levels or exterminated himself entirely, Br’er coyote will still be around, drinking and carousing at night, singing lewd songs off-key, and enjoying his Hasenpfeffer or Curried Rabbit or Braised Squirrel in Sauerkraut, and grinning as he lifts his leg on the bleached bones of Homo we-only wish-we-were-sapiens.
The painting immediately above is by Jeri Quinn; the others are by Tom. If anyone reading this has the financial wherewithal, contact one of the galleries that represent them (both he and Jeri are represented by Gerald Peters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Tom is also represented by Collectors’ Covey in Dallas, Texas) and snap up everything you can lay your hands on. You won’t regret it.