The main firearm that coyote hunters is the rifle, and a rifle that most use for shots from 50 to 200 yards or more. They’re shooting a number of different and very acceptable rounds and rifles. Here are just a few of the favorites: A 17HMR (Hornady Magnum Round); the 204 Ruger; a 22-250; and the .243. All of these rifles have small caliber bullets, with a lot of powder behind them. They are hot, fast, and level shooting long range rifles. Don’t use anything bigger – it’ll punch a hole in the coyote the size of a fist, and if you want to ultimately sell the hide, the large hole will make the hide valueless. Remember, you’re not shooting an elk. Guide Phil Schweik says he’s seen what a .30-06 or 7mm mag will do, and as he put it, “it isn’t pretty.” Indeed, he’s admitted to shooting a coyote during the deer gun season using a .30-06 – and said it ruined the entire hide. So “Buffalo Bill,” leave that 45/70 with the 300 grain bullet at home. You won’t need it.
Popular manufacturers of these types of caliber rifles include Savage, Winchester, and Ruger. Bolt action is the most accurate- -and you WILL be called upon to shoot at 200 yards or more, if the coyote will not come in, even if attracted. It happens continuously, and you want maximum accuracy (don’t forget about firing from “prone position” if possible). You’ll also definitely want to look into getting a scope for longer range, and a good simple, inexpensive choice would be a 3 x 9 variable. It won’t break the bank, and it’ll serve you well. Bushnell and Nikon put out some very good models, and no, I’m not knocking superb manufacturers like Leupold or Zeiss. If you want them, go for it. And that goes for rifles, as well. “Your cherce” as they say.
Now, while 99% of coyote hunters use a rifle, there are those who want something different. Enter the shotgun, handgun and bow and arrow. Best choice for a shotgun (usually up to about 40 yards max) is a 12 gauge, with a 3 inch mag shell using a double ought or #4 load (REMEMBER, check your state or area regs – -I know for sure that double ought is not allowed in any number of states!). Normally, coyote hunters will want to use a shotgun when hunting in heavy cover or down in the woods. You want something that will blast through any natural impediments such as brush, and the like.
When using a handgun (same-old-same-old, but follow my lead: Check the regs; handgun use is restricted in many areas, or for hunting use, as well). Some hunters are accurate with a pistol up to a 100 yards – -no kidding. And I’ve seen handguns decked out with scopes and specialized grips and the like. A .357, .44 mag, or most any other popular model with some “punch” will do the job.
A growing number of coyote hunters are opting for a bow and arrow. Frankly, I’m not that good! It’s tough enough hunting coyotes with a firearm. Using a bow and arrow is really an accomplished art. The reasons some hunters use the bow and arrow is not only because it makes for a true “hunt” where the quarry has more than even chance of escaping, but also it’s “quiet.” You won’t spook any other coyotes in the area. Indeed, I’ve heard that bow and arrow coyote hunters can often get more than one coyote in a short period, because if the coyotes are in some type of pack, or traveling together, there is no sound if one of them is taken.
Whatever you use, and however “good” you may think you are as a hunter, just know coyote hunting is no “gimme.” Practice will help lead you on the road to being “perfect,” as the old saying goes. Don’t give up if you’re skunked – -everyone is once in a while, whether they admit it or not. Just keep trying. The results are worth the effort.
3 Best Rifles for Coyote Hunting
Gamo Varmint . 177 Caliber Air Rifle with Scope Review
Who doesn’t love a good air rifle for target practice, rodent shooting, and coyote hunting. There is an option that is available to you ready to hunt, straight out the box – the Gamo Varmint . 177 Caliber Air Rifle with Scope. Gamo is the world’s largest manufacturer of air rifles and has consistently produced high quality yet affordable airguns. However, this is no high end premium air rifle that will run you hundreds of dollars. The Gamo Varmint is for someone wanting a solid basic rifle that will get the job done and won’t cost you an arm and leg.
Under $100, Gamo delivers their Varmint rifle equipped with a 4x32mm scope so you’re ready to start shooting coyotes quicker without the hassle of buying and mounting a separate rifle scope. The rifle shoots .177 performance ballistic alloy pellets at 1250 feet per second, and does have some punch to it. To aid in stealth and concealment, the synthetic stock and metal comes in black. The stock is made of an all weather synthetic material so you can feel confident taking this rifle into the field in all weather conditions. The anti slip checkered forestock and pistol grip along with ventilated soft rubber butt pad makes for a naturally easy to shoulder and aim rifle. Gamo Varmint rifles include an adjustable two stage trigger and fluted polymer barrel. This is a pretty powerful break barrel style air rifle, with the cocking effort at approximately 30 lbs. Another great feature that may appeal to left handed or ambidextrous shooters that have a more difficult time finding firearms to fit them well is the raised cheek piece on both sides of the Monte Carlo stock for easy alignment. The weight of the rifle is approximately 7 lbs, which doesn’t make it the lightest air rifle but certainly sturdier.
This is not an airgun for kids to shoot paper plates with. The Gamo Varmint .177 Caliber Air Rifle is a cool looking gun but deadly to coyotes and other unlucky small game that get in the cross hairs.
Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP Bolt-Action Rifle with Scope Review
One of the best packaged rifle and scope combinations on the market is the Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP Bolt-Action Rifle and Nikon scope. Offered in 10 different calibers including the .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7 mm Remington Magnum, and 7mm-08 Remington. This makes it an excellent choice for everything from predator management, long range rifle shooting, to coyote hunting.
The Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP package is a perfect solution for newer coyote hunters since it comes out of the box ready for use with included scope bases, rings, and rifle scope already mounted and factory bore sighted. This can really take some of the guesswork out of sighting in the rifle before taking it out into the field. The included scope happens to be on the nicer side of any other packaged rifle and scope combinations. The Nikon 3-9 X 40mm scope has the BDC reticle which allows for more accurate trajectory compensation at longer distances. This scope should be enough for most basic hunting uses. At under $600 per rifle, the package makes this option more affordable than buying a rifle and scope equipment separately.
This gun is on the lighter side weighing only 7 pounds 4 ounces without scope, and is well-balanced. Depending on caliber selected, barrel length varies from 22″-24″. One solid feature of the Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP is the accutrigger that is heavily favored by Savage enthusiasts for being easily adjustable. Other features include a matte black synthetic stock and metal for easy concealment, along with a free floating barrel for accuracy. The inset magazine release lever makes unloading cartridges quick and simple.
For a rifle at this price point, you can’t beat the Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP for coyote hunters at any experience level, especially for beginners or someone looking to add a backup rifle. This rifle performs well and is rugged enough for all shooting uses straight from the box.
Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint Bolt-Action Rifle
If you are looking for the ultimate coyote rifle or tactical firearm, you will be pleased to know that the Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint Bolt-Action fits all of the same criteria that has made the Remington Model 700 one of the most popular and accurate bolt actions since its first production in 1962.
Offered in three calibers, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, and the popular .308 Winchester. Excellent calibers for long range tactical shooting or for those concerned with preserving the integrity of an animal’s pelt. These calibers all come with standard 26” barrel length and is drilled and tapped for your choice of scope mounted.
One noticeable feature of the Model 700 SPS (special purpose synthetic) Varmint rifle is the non-reflective stock that allows for better concealment, even after the rifle has been fired multiple times. This stock does contact the barrel and is not free floating. Within the stock, Remington has added a cheek piece and soft recoil pad to aid in shooter comfort, especially for those spending many hours at the range. The solid contour “bull” barrel is also coated with non-reflective finish to keep the rifle and shooter concealed, even after firing multiple times.
The wide and vented fore end is a great feature to allow for better heat dissipation during long bursts of fire or activity. Another plus on the fore end is the two swivel studs to allow you to mount a bi-pod if needed, in front of your sling. This model rifle comes with pressed metal trigger guard and hinged floor plate for easier and quicker unloading. The internal magazine has the capability of holding 5 rounds with one in the chamber. If you are into customization, this would be a great rifle as there are a lot of ways to tailor and customize this gun. The total rifle weight before added equipment is approximately 8.5 pounds.
Overall, the Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint bolt-action rifle is a great option for anyone looking for precision, bang for their buck, and a time tested firearm produced and made in the U.S.A.