When I do seminars on calling coyotes I am often asked, which rifle and caliber is best for taking coyotes. My answer?
“In many cases, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, a shotgun is the best coyote rifle ever built.”
The reason I say this is that if you are calling from the right places, you are calling from cover. Unlike coyotes that live in the more open country of the Western United States, coyotes that call the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast regions of our country their home are cover-loving creatures.
Long shots are the exception in these parts of the country. Most of the coyotes I call in and kill each year are taken at ranges of less than 100 yards and a good share of them are taken at half that distance. I’ve killed several at ranges better measured in feet than in yards.
Anytime I am calling from heavy cover, which is a good share of the time, I pack a shotgun instead of a rifle. In my younger days I used to carry both. But over the years I found that I used the shotgun much more often than I did the rifle, so I gave up toting two guns. When I hunt with a partner, however, one of us will carry a shotgun and the other a rifle. This is a deadly combination.
Any 12-gauge shotgun with a full choke will do the job on coyotes. In a 12-gauge chambered for 2-3/4-inch shells only, I like to go with No. 2 shot. If you step up to the bigger shot size in a 2-3/4-inch case, there are so few pellets that the pattern gets pretty darn skimpy. A 3-inch is a better choice and a 3-1/2-inch, 12-gauge or a 10-gauge is the best of all. Winchester makes a four-buck load for the 3-1/2-inch, 12-gauge, which has 54 pellets. I’ve found this load to be deadly on coyotes out to about 60 yards.
A few years ago, on my first set of the morning, I unknowingly set up very close to three coyotes. I was using a Johnny Stewart electronic call that morning and as is my habit, I started out on low volume just in case there were any critters nearby. That wailing music had just started playing when those three coyotes came bursting out of some heavy cover back over my left shoulder. I spun around on my butt, threw the stock of the shotgun to my shoulder and managed to dump two out of the three.
I can guarantee you that I would not have gotten any of them had I been toting my favorite varmint rifle.
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