Predator and Varmint Hunting Information
For many years we enjoyed the sport of hunting varmints here in Kentucky. We had good numbers of groundhogs in many parts of the state. A number of years ago, Kentucky started seeing the introduction of coyotes in the state. As the numbers and range of the coyotes expanded, the number of groundhogs decreased. Today, in most places of Kentucky where groundhogs had once been plentiful, there are few.
To fill the desire of another season to hunt we have shifted some of our time to predator hunting. We have hunted grey fox for a number of years and have now started hunting coyotes the last several years. We don't claim to be experts but will share some of the things we have learned.
It goes without saying you must control your scent and wear good camouflage to blend in to your surroundings. I like to treat coyote hunting much like I turkey hunt. Once I get to a spot to call I sit down against a large tree to help break up my outline. I always try calling into the wind or a cross wind and like to use the terrain to help keep a coyote from circling down wind. An example would be backing up to a creek, river or a bluff on the down wind side.
I hear a lot of debate about what is the best gun to use for coyote hunting. In my opinion it's based on if you want a dedicated gun for coyote hunting. So the first answer I give is shoot what you have already have, as long as you can shoot it good, that's more important than what caliber it is. If you have a rifle you hunt deer with, that will work just fine. Now if you want to set up a dedicated rifle for hunting coyotes that's another story. There are many calibers available that will make a fine coyote gun. You will want a caliber that has good accuracy for several reasons. Coyotes, foxes and bobcats are small targets and the range of your shot can be well over 100 yards. Some of the calibers that are known to be good for coyotes are .22-250 Rem, .222 Rem, .17 Rem, .223 Rem, .220 Swift, .243 Win. just to name a few. I personally like and hunt with a .17 Rem and a .22-250 Rem.
Another thing to consider is if you are concerned about pelt damage. If you plan to keep the pelts you need to think about a caliber and bullet weight that is known to do less damage. The lighter the bullet weight, the less pelt damage. The downside of shooting light weight bullets is you do loose some energy or killing power. In most cases that is not a problem. One example that comes to mind is with my .17 Remington. My load is a 25 grain hollow point bullet at about 4,000fps. The .17 Remington also has a 20 grain bullet available that would give more speed but would be less energy. In the case of the .17 Remington I would not want to shoot the lighter bullet for coyote sized animals. For foxes and maybe bobcat the lighter bullet might be ok.
The next thing there is much discussion about is scopes. There are many options available today for choice of scopes. To make it simple, I will use two options to think about. With today's variable scopes you have a lot of flexibility. If you plan on hunting in open country like out west you may want to look at the higher magnification scopes due to longer range shots. I hear a lot of guys like using 6x-18x scopes in such cases. In the eastern states like Kentucky where I hunt I feel lower magnification scopes like 2x-7x and 3x-9x are more popular.