Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Calling Coyotes--Sealing The Deal
The majority of hunters reading this are either into long range hunting or are considering it. Those with some experience already have an appreciation for the need for an accurate rifle and load as well as the need for a steady rest. Both of these will increase the odds of collecting the fur from the next coyote that appears at your stand. The major difference is that our objective in calling is to get the coyote as close as necessary to ensure a good, lethal shot.

The circumstances are different than with pure long range hunting however. Weíve intentionally stirred the coyote up. Heís more than likely either in the process of coming or going. We have a finite amount time to take the shot or miss the opportunity. Thatís not to say that ambushing a coyote or setting up for a long shot on a coyote thatís working a meadow will necessarily allow us all the time in the world but in general, calling will limit the time frame for the shot.

The coyoteís mindset determines how much that timeframe is shortened. A coyote coming in hot will usually leave just as hot. A coyote picking its way to the stand will be more likely to stop on its exit if it hasnít been shot at yet. During the last coyote calling competition we hunted, my son and I had more hot coyotes than usual responding to the call. Normally weíll bark the coyotes to a stop for a decent rifle shot but that weekend they were coming hard and then leaving just as hard.

By the end of the hunt we determined to get proficient with a shotgun to avoid watching coyotes running over the hill. A double carry of both a rifle and a shotgun can give more flexibility in how you handle hard charges. I recommend an article Dustin Butler wrote for the December 2011 Predator Extreme magazine on shotgunning coyotes if you are interested in putting your shotgun to work on predators. For those who are primarily rifle hunters, we need to adapt to make the most of the opportunities.

The two things the rifle hunter needs from his firearm are accuracy and flat trajectory. If you are trying to save fur, youíll also need a bullet with the best terminal performance to minimize fur damage. (See the article entitled Fur Loads from the February 2011 edition of LRH magazine.) Although benchrest accuracy isnít necessary for coyotes, itís hard to have too much. A coyote isnít very big once the hair comes off.

For hunting in the West, I strive for loads that will group one and a half inches at 200 yards for a three shot string. Ideally, the cartridgeís trajectory will allow for a 200 yard zero with a maximum midrange trajectory of around one inch. Using the Maximum Point Blank Range (MPBR) theory of sighting in (usually around a 250 yard zero for most of the hotter varmint cartridges on a five inch vital size) resulted in too many misses at 150 to 175 yards. The slightest bobble results in shooting over coyotes. A 200 yard zero will still allow centermass holds out to 250 yards with most cartridges and covers 95% of our called coyotes.

The optics for a calling rifle need to be durable, transmit a reasonable amount of light and have enough field of view (FOV) to allow the hunter to pick up the animal easily through the scope. Many coyote hunters put high magnification scopes on their calling rifles. Iíve missed far more opportunities from too small a FOV than from not having enough magnification. I like a minimum FOV of around 35 feet at 100 yards. This usually means a variable scope with a lower ends of 2.5 to 3X. Itís rare to need more than eight or nine power for a shot at a coyote but if you need more upper-end magnification, look at the four to six factor scopes.

Shotgun carry allows one to get away with less FOV since the scattergun will be deployed on the close shots anyway. Many long range hunters feel handicapped hunting without a turret. Some of the Tactical scopes combine high FOV scopes with tactical or target turrets and companies such as Leupold will retro fit a number of turrets to their lower magnification range variables for a reasonable fee.

A Leupold VX3 2.5-8X with a CDS turret installed by their Custom Shop would be hard to beat for the vast majority of coyote calling. The rangefinder you use for your LR shooting will also come in handy for a coyote that hangs up and determining the maximum distance for your shotgun or rifle before beginning calling. Choose some landmarks outlining your kill zone then start calling.

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