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Songdog Fever -- Coyote Hunting
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When Sierra came out with the 52gr BTHP Match King I tried some of them. The accuracy was superb. I once shot a 10 shot group with this rifle that was about 1/2 an inch. I had an old Weaver V-12 with the double horizontal range finding crosshair mounted on this gun and it would shoot. I found that the Match King bullets were just the ticket--enough expansion to kill coyotes dead in their tracks, but not so much that it blew monster holes in the hides. Of course, this was before the days of rangefinders, but I managed to kill coyotes at some unbelievably extreme ranges using my range finding reticle and Kentucky windage.

Songdog Fever -- Coyote Hunting

When I saw the .17 Remington, I knew I had to try one, but I had limited success with this caliber. It would definitely kill coyotes when you hit them well, and you would hardly be able to find the hole. But hit them marginally and it would still tear huge holes in them, and the accuracy of this caliber was not quite what I liked to see in a varmint gun. It would barely shoot one inch groups on a regular basis.

Most recently, I bought a 204 Ruger that is like a "death ray" on coyotes out to about 400 yards. This caliber may be the best choice out there for the fur hunter. Two years ago I killed eighteen coyotes with this rifle, and all but one were one-shot bang/flop kills. My rifle is a Ruger m77 stainless, and it likes the 32 grain Hornady bullets the best. It will shoot half-inch groups with factory ammo, so I donít even hand load for it.

Coyote hunting will test your skills in so many different ways. The effective kill zone on your average coyote is about the size of a half gallon milk jug lying on its side, so needless to say, you have to have good marksmanship skills. Get a good flat shooting rifle and practice with it a lot.

Spot and stalk hunting requires you to do a lot of demanding physical stuff like hiking around hills and crawling on your hands and knees, keeping out of sight until you get to within your comfortable shooting range. I love bipods for this type of hunting. I mostly take shots from the prone position, so the short ones work the best. When calling, I like the longer ones so you can shoot from a sitting position.

Calling works best for me in the earlier part of the hunting season. That is when hides start getting prime and the younger coyotes are more gullible to calling (I define the season as starting in September and going through February). By the time December rolls around, they are either dead or well educated to most calling techniques.

I also like a shorter barrelled, easier handling rifle, as shots are usually closer and sometimes you need a fast follow-up shot or a second shot if you call in a double. My favorite coyote calling rifle is a Ruger Mini 14. If you are hunting with a partner, think about one guy using a shotgun. Number 2 lead shot in a 3" magnum 12 gauge will anchor a coyote out to about 75 yards.

My current project is a super long range coyote rifle. It seems coyotes must read shooting magazines, and they know the effective range of most varmint guns to be about 500 yards. Thus, you can usually get one to stand still and feel safe past that range. I am building a 6 X 284 to shoot the 107gr and 115gr vld bullets. I hope to be able to dial this gun in to be able to make those 600 to 1000 yard shots.

Be careful about drinking the water if you are ever out west. It is probably better to stick with the bottled stuff, because you never know when you will get a dose of "songdog fever" like I did 34 years ago. I thought I was cured when the fur market crashed in the early 90ís, but I recently had a relapse, and this is a very virulent strain!
Join the discussion of this article with the author HERE at the Article Discussion Forum.
Allen Jones is a water well contractor in central Colorado. He has lived and hunted with gun and bow in Colorado since moving there in 1975. He is a former state champion and all-American trapshooter and also loves long range shooting, varmint hunting and Texas hold em poker.

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