It has become apparent over the past few years that of you want to win coyote hunting contests you should be using hounds. But that simply is not in the picture for the majority of coyote hunters and potential coyote hunters. Coyote hounds are a serious investment that requires, among other things, a place to keep them and time to run them.
Coyote hunting will be a game of calling to most hunters, myself included. It is a very challenging game. Many hunters are accepting this challenge. In northwest Pennsylvania at least, coyote hunting is currently the hot growth area of sport hunting. Recently I did a seminar on coyote hunting and it drew the largest crown out of more than a dozen seminars over the past couple of years.
In addition to a good crowd, it was a lot of fun. People got involved. Enthusiasm was high. I will be doing another this Sunday at 2:00 p.m., at the Lodge Room in Gander Mountain. If you wish to join the fun, do not come expecting a lecture. Most assuredly I am not an expert. We will be learning together.
One very attractive aspect of hunting coyotes by calling is that it can be quite inexpensive. Then once hunters become enthused, there is a lot of room for growth in the tools of the sport.
Getting started in coyote hunting starts simply with the purchase of a coyote call. Many hunters may already have a call that will suffice. The standard predator call for many years has been the rabbit in distress, of rabbit squeal, call. This is, or at least it can be, a very inexpensive mouth call since before coyotes became part of the predator hunting scene, calling in this state was done with manually-powered calls. A rabbit squeal call still is the standard calling tool since coyotes eat about the same things as the predators we had before coyotes became abundant.
Of course since they are much larger than the other predators, coyotes also prey upon deer. Mostly they prey upon the weaker deer during winter, then in the spring on fawns. However they are fully capable of killing healthy adult deer. In deep, crusty snow coyotes have an advantage of being able to run on top of the crust while the sharp hooves of deer break through the crust, which can potentially break their legs and at the least both tires them and slows them down.
For the newcomer to coyote hunting, just about any rifle, or a shotgun, is sufficient. A rimfire rifle will do the job if it is shot accurately and within reasonable distances. Better probably will be the hunter's deer rifle. The only disadvantage might be that a large caliber bullet will put a large hole in the coyote. This might make a taxidermist's job difficult or lower the value of the fur.
Let's face the facts, though. One of the best parts about taking up a new sort of hunting is shopping for a new gun. When it comes to coyote rifles, this is one of the more interesting searches you will ever have. We can, without trying to make excuses, shop for the hottest rifle we can find. Then we can shop for a scope with some high magnification numbers.
A look at some of the coyote contests which have been held in western Pennsylvania can be a guide to the firearms that are being used by the more successful coyote hunters. We can assume with a large degree of accuracy that the hunters who are bagging coyotes during contests are some of the more experienced coyote hunters in the state.
During the most recent Brokenstraw Fish and Game Club Coyote Hunt, the most popular cartridge was the .22-250 Remington. No surprise here, that has long been the cartridge of choice for serious coyote hunters. It is not the hottest .22 cartridge, but it is the hottest among the rifle chamberings that are readily available.
The number of coyotes brought in at Brokenstraw was down this year to just eleven. Four of the successful entrants used the .22-250 Rem. One each used .223 Remington, .204 Ruger, and .22 Rimfire Magnum. Also, two hunters used 12 gauge shotguns.
In the Big Dog Coyote Hunt, held by the Tubmill Trout Club, 18 coyotes were entered. Among the successful hunters, three each used .22-250 Rem., .22 Rim. Mag, and .243 Winchester, one each used .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .30-06 Springfield, and .220 Swift. Five used 12 gauge shotguns.
On March 11, 12 and 13 the Tubmill Trout Club will hold their Coyote Bash, which they say may be the last statewide coyote contest of this season. Get information by contacting Lin at (724) 235-9798, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot of coyote hunting remains this season, not that there is an actual 'season' for hunting coyotes. Although most coyote hunting contests are held during January and February, hunting actually gets even better from late winter into spring. Hunt safely and be a good sportsman.