There are plenty of reasons why you should consider shotgun hunting coyotes, chief among them is the excitement level.
Editor's Note: This article is sponsored content from TruGlo.
After hearing a few crunches of leaves, I was confident that a coyote was nearby. I’d stopped calling and was letting Mother Nature do the rest when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye: A coyote was at 25 yards and coming my way to see what all the commotion was. That was the last mistake it made. I was able to make a perfect shot with my Winchester SXT 12 gauge shotgun. The shot leveled the coyote — it never made another move.
Don't get me wrong: Taking a coyote with a high-powered rifle at several hundred yards is rewarding as well as exciting. However, having a coyote come into a range that’s close enough for an effective shot with a shotgun is incomparable.
Hunters have been using shotguns on coyotes for many years — and for various reasons. The No. 1 reason seems to be due to the excitement level of being up close and personal with the most popular hunted predator, leaving the hunter with a one-of-a-kind feeling. For predator hunters who harvest fur, using a shotgun increases the chances of having less damage to the pelt that sometimes occurs when using a rifle.
Another reason shotguns are used on coyotes — and the main reason why I carry both a shotgun and a rifle the majority of the time — is more shot opportunities. Carrying both types of guns allows for multiple shots when one or more coyotes come to the call. The ideal situation is shooting the closest coyote with a shotgun first, then using a pup distress sound to slow or even stop the next coyote to shoot with a rifle.
Even though hunting coyotes with a shotgun is not something that was just discovered, it’s becoming an increasingly popular trend among today's predator hunters. For first timers that want to carry a shotgun here a few tips that I have learned along the way that will help ensure a more successful hunt.
Choke Tube And Ammo
As with hunting turkeys, waterfowl or upland birds with a shotgun, there’s ammo specifically designed for use when hunting coyotes. Several companies have developed hard-hitting loads that cause minimal pelt damage. Some of my favorites include Hornady Heavy Magnum Coyote, which is a 3-inch, 1½-ounce, 00-buck load with a nickel-plated BB that. Used with an improved cylinder or modified choke, is load deadly up to 50 yards.
Another favorite is Winchester's Varmint X — also a 3-inch, 1½-ounce load — has Winchester’s Shot-Lok Technology to provide a great pattern at 40-plus yards when paired with a good choke. Out of TruGlo’s new Head Banger Long Range Turkey Choke it can't be beaten. Even though this choke is for turkey hunting, it’s designed to handle a great pattern at a long distance, and it’s also able to handle heavier coyote loads … even the heaviest loads on the market, such as Hevi-Shot's Dead Coyote.
As with hunting any animal, hunters should shoot at a target to pattern and see which one performs the best out of a specific gun. Knowing how the firearm patterns at different ranges and with different loads is essential.
Tools For Shotgunning Coyotes
After getting a shotgun paired with the right ammo and choke tube, then practicing with it on the range, it’s time to hunt. Often, both a shotgun and rifle accompany hunters to the field. Beginning shotgun hunters often seem to have the same question in mind: How will I know when a coyote is within range, and which gun should I use?
When multiple coyotes are racing in at full speed, it can be a challenge to decide quickly which firearm to use. Most predator hunters know this happens fast. Therefore, I always carry a rangefinder such as Nikon's Black RangeX 4K. This rangefinder is capable of not only ranging at several hundred yards for my rifle, but I also use it to set up my decoy and electronic caller exactly 30 yards from my setup. Knowing the range of my decoy I can quickly determine how far one is from that point and if it's within range.
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Even when using objects such as caller or decoy as a range marker, the first thing I do when sitting down is to range multiple distances. I will range multiple landmarks such as a tree, rock or even a barn so that I know where my effective ranges are: not only for my shotgun, but my rifle as well. Always do this before the first call is ever made and it should make ranging and gun choice a breeze.
Setup For The Shotgun
When calling coyotes and trying to determine where to set up there are two major factors. The first, of course, is the wind. My favorite setup is one with a crosswind. However, no matter the situation, I always try to face where I can see downwind. The second factor is always making sure there’s a shotgun opportunity.
For example, when sitting on the edge of a field, I try to keep my back to cover and keep the spot I believe a coyote could enter the field within shotgun range. This method is especially good when hunting with a partner. In this circumstance, one of us is set up in the shotgun position with the other facing the open area with a rifle.
No matter if I’m hunting alone or with a partner, my ideal setup includes a rifle outfitted with a Swagger Bipods on my right (I’m a right-handed shooter) and a shotgun to the left, on the ground or across my lap. The goal is to have the shotgun close enough so if a coyote comes racing in I can reach it with no obstacles. There's another reason I keep the shotgun on my left side. If a coyote doesn't quite make it to shotgun range I can easily lay it down slowly and get back on my rifle.
Try The Shotgun
In previous years, when I was still a novice predator hunter, I hardly ever carry a shotgun, unless I was in heavy timber or brushy areas. Basically, areas where it was my only option.
However, when I finally began carrying a shotgun on all my predator hunts I began to see more shot opportunities. In turn, more dead coyotes. I call the shotgun a secondary option; however, I set up and prepare for a shotgun harvest in every hunting situation. If you do this the opportunity to shoot more predators will increase dramatically.
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Thanks for this insight! I never thought I could use a shotgun on coyotes. Kindly clarify if I can use it at night, I like hunting at night and seems like this is a good option.