The coyote came through the sage at a steady lope. Pivoting the rifle and bipod in his direction, I let out a “Woof”. The coyote came to a stop and almost simultaneously dropped like the proverbial sack of potatoes.
The objective: a small entrance and no exit.
Walking up to the well-furred predator, the result was what I had come to expect…one small entrance hole and no exit. The bullet had entered, totally fragmented and then stayed inside the animal. Perfect. No time would be wasted in the fur shed sewing this pelt and no discounts would be taken from the fur buyer trying to maximize his profits at my expense. The outcome was predictable but not easily obtained. It came at the expense of a long quest for a consistent fur load and resulted from extensive research and experimentation.
As the fur market rebounds with the perceived economic recovery, harvesting a good useable hide becomes more attractive. Fur markets cycle with the economy and the world fashion trends. They always have and always will. But, the desire to cleanly harvest predators with a minimum of pelt damage goes beyond simple economics. The thought of leaving a marketable hide in the field is just as foreign to some as leaving the backstrap of their deer. Many have hauled hides to the buyer when the proceeds didn’t even cover the fuel. It just seems right to use the resource. Others simply take pride in putting up a nice clean pelt. And, when it comes right down to it, most fur takers would rather hunt than sew, otherwise they would spend their time in front of the fire knitting mittens instead of hunting predators.
Geneology of a Fur Load. .22 Cal FMJ, Speer 52 gr HP, Horn 60 gr V-max.
The first coyote I ever called was taken at 10 yards with a Hornady 110 grain Spire Point handload from my old Remington M725 .30-06. The tip of that coyote’s tail graced the zipper pull on my favorite gun case for decades and, after the dust settled, the tip of its tail was about all that was left! That began my search for the perfect fur load. Like most, my testing started with a full metal jacketed bullet. But, like many, the FMJ’s left me wanting—wanting more consistent performance and wanting fewer lost coyotes. Coyotes are tough animals that need and deserve a quick decisive kill whether you respect the animal or not.
After the FMJ phase, the next step on my journey came after reading Rick Jamison’s book Calling Coyotes: And Other Predators. Jamison hunted coyotes for a living in the hay-days of the coyote hide market. He prescribed the Speer 52 grain hollow point over H380 if I remember correctly. The load was travelling around 3800 fps when it exited the muzzle of his .22-250. Rick claimed the bullet would not exit a coyote on a straight-on frontal shot. I did kill one straight-on “drive-by” coyote with this load—a Texas heart shot that perfectly perforated the coyote’s tail bone and failed to exit. However, this author’s calling skills at that time must have been somewhat lacking compared to Jamison’s because that was the only straight-on shot I ever took with that bullet. Shots at other angles left gaping holes so the search for the elusive perfect fur load continued.