Coyotes in Your Pocket: A Quest To Shotgun CoyotesBy Tim Titus
New country, new set-up and no real clue of what is coming. Six minutes into the stand a coyote blows out of the brush line just feet from my son, Ben, and I. It has our scent now and itís going hard across the small meadow in front of us. Simultaneous shots from my 12 gauge and Benís .17 send her skidding through the hay stubble before she makes it 30 yards. Did that really just happen? This is a little more up-close and personal than our normal sets.
Weíre riflemen. In fact my wingshooting ability leaves much to be desired. Before Ben was hardly a twinkle, his older brother, Hank, used to tag along with me while pheasant hunting in Central Washington. Iíd pick Hank up at the house and take him on short hunts with me after work. He was five or six at the time. My German Shorthair bitch, Jill, had far more experience with pheasants than I so it wasnít a big surprise when she locked on a ringneck not far from the house. Hank and I walked in and a beautiful rooster erupted into the clear blue sky. I fired twice and, as was many more times the case than I would like to admit, the bird flew over the fence and into an adjacent field. I reloaded and in less than a minute, Jill locked on point again and once again a rooster cackled as it made its ascent into the fall sky. Two shots from the Browning hurried it on its way not touching a feather. What do you do? I told the dog, ďFind us another rooster, Jill.Ē Hank adds from behind me, ďYeah. Find us a slow one!Ē He was a cute child...
So, needless to say, shotguns are not my forteí. Iíve shot them. I hit occasionally but Iím by no means a natural wingshooter. I guess thatís the reason that Iím primarily a rifleman. I strive for set-ups that bring me the advantage when rifling coyotes. Slightly broken terrain to get some elevation, a mosaic of vegetation to see approaching coyotes and some openings in which to stop the coyote for a shot are the things I look for in the ideal stand. As soon as the coyote gets inside 200 yards, Iím looking for a place to bark him to a stop and the result is a dead coyote. Accurate rifles, crisp triggers and good glass are what life is about, isnít it?
And, yet, thereís been a nagging thought in the back of my mind that I havenít been as well-rounded a coyote caller as I should be. Driving by miles of coyote country to get to an area conducive to good rifle stands has never bothered me. But, the result of choosing poor stands haunts me and haunts the coyotes that have left those stands with their PhD in their hands. Iíve really been OK with all that at least until one particular contest hunt.
The coyotes were responding during this hunt. Boy, were they responding! We had hot coyotes coming hard and from unexpected directions. Some were not about to stop. The resulting fast, moving, close-up shots are low percentage rifle shots and cost us just enough coyotes to take us out of the money. For most of us contest hunting is really less about the money and more about our pride, but afterwards I told Ben that we just had to learn to shotgun coyotes. So, as hard as it was, I began leaving the rifle home.
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