Friday, January 14, 2011

Coyote Hunting 101

So I get an email from Slow Joe wanting to know what it was going to take equipment and money wise to get him started coyote hunting.
That’s a tough question, but at the same time, an easy one.

But something everybody needs to understand before I get started is that I am no expert, by any means. I’ve only been in it myself seriously a couple years. But I’m willing to pass on what I’ve learned by trial and error to keep somebody else from making the same mistakes.
I’m assuming that because Joe’s interested, he already hunts or at least shoots. But I’m going to start at the top anyways and work my way down.
This can be a long article, so today I’m going to cover rifles and ammo. I’ll cover shotguns, camo, calls and other assorted shit in later posts.

Firearms:
Your biggest expense for sure is a rifle if you don't already have one.
I shoot a Savage Model 11 in 22-250 with a 3x9 Bushnell scope. Why the 22-250? Because it’s a fast, flat shooting son of a bitch and it’s proven itself over and over for this type of game. Plus, I’ve always wanted a 22-250 for as long as I can remember. My rifle and scope, right now at the BassPro, will run you about $450 out the door. That ain’t a bad deal for a tool that will last you a lifetime.
Why a 3x9 scope? Because that’s what it came with and it suits my particular situation just fine. If I saw a reason to replace it, I would. Actually I did replace it one time for a minute, but that was a stupid fucking mistake and I’ll explain why a little later.

Okay. A coyote rifle can be damned near anything you want it to be but I’d stick with something smaller than a 30 caliber. Why? Because if you need a follow-up shot you don’t want to spend the time recovering from recoil to re-acquire the target. The recoil from my rifle is so little that with just a touch of practice you can actually see the bullet hit the target through the scope.
If you don’t live in Kalifornia, you might consider your AR-15 in 223. The AR platform has gotten extremely popular with varmint and predator hunters lately. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because of all the neat shit you can hang off that sucker. But one HUGE advantage that the 223 has is the availability of ammo. You can buy that shit anywhere and it’s cheap.
I’ve heard of calibers as small as 17 being used but I’d have to have a fairly close shot with little wind before I felt comfortable using something that small and light.
On the upper end of the scale any of the 6mm’s would suffice, especially the 243 Winchester. You’ve got a great range of bullet weights and the heavier bullets would buck the wind better than my 55 grain 22-250.
What I’m trying to say is that you for sure don’t need a cannon to kill a coyote. They’re a very thin skinned animal and if you connect in the chest area with a fast bullet in the 40 - 80 grain range, that motherfucker will just stiffen up and fall over dead when you hit him. Seriously. I have never walked up on a coyote that I’ve shot to find it still alive.

Ammunition:
As with anything else concerning accuracy, find what shoots well and stick with it.
My favorite no shit hands down fucking A ammo is Hornadys’ 55 grain V-MAX in 22-250. The factory load prints MOA from a rest all day long, it moves out at 3800 fps and is devastating when it hits. It’s available in loaded ammo and in bullets only for the reloaders. It hits 1 inch high at 100 yards, dead on at 200 and supposedly 6 inches low at 300 yards, which means that out to 250 yards I aim dead on and I’ll connect. I don’t feel comfortable shooting any further than 200 yards anyways and will pass the shot.
Now at the top of the paragraph I said to find something and stick with it. That being said, I’m looking at 3 ½ boxes of V-MAX, 4 boxes of 50 grain JHP and a box of Hornadys’ Superformance in 50 grain V-MAX that I just picked up today and can’t wait to try out.
Why do I have 3 different kinds of ammo? Because I’m a fucking gun-whore. Hey, 22-250 ammo can be kinda hard to find sometimes so when I see some, I buy it. But again, my favorite is the 55 grain V-MAX. If I were to walk out the door right now to hunt, that’s what would be in my pockets. That may change when I try out the box of Superformance that I bought today.

Scopes:
I have the 3x9 that the gun came with and to be honest, I have no reason to upgrade. It does what I need it to do.
I keep it on 2 settings depending where I’m hunting. For this side of the Sierras where it’s brushy and forested and shots are generally less than 100 yards it stays on 3 power. On the other side of the hills where it‘s more open, it stays on 6 power.
Why just 2 variables? Because I’m a cheap fucker and I can’t afford a range-finder. I know what a coyote looks like through my scope at 3 and 6 power. That’s how I estimate my range. If I have to crank it up to 9 power to connect, that’s a bit beyond my shooting abilities at this time. I’ll pass the shot.
I bought Pops an 8x32 for his rifle. That lasted until he tried to zero it, then he took it off and gave it back. I put it on mine for about 30 seconds and took it off and threw it in my closet where it still sits today. Why? Because you have absolutely no decent field of view at 100 yards even at it’s lowest setting. And besides that, there’s so many fucking reticule marks that I spent more time looking at them than I did at the target. That scope may have its’ use at a prairie dog town where the shooter is stationary and has time to fuck around with it, but coyote shooting? Uh-uh.
If you want a better quality scope, by all means go for it. Pops ended up putting a Leopold 3x9 on his.

Okay. This post turned out to be a lot fucking longer than I thought it would. I’ll cover more stuff at another time.