17 Wincester Magnum
Growing up in central Minnesota, hunting fox and coyotes during the winter was a common occurrence in our family. My dad would take my brother and me out hunting with him throughout the winter months. Our legs were too short to keep up, so he would pull us in a sled behind him as he snow shoed through the deep snow. I’m sure it would have been much easier to leave us home, but we loved every minute of it. Over the years I learned a lot of great predator hunting techniques from my dad, but there are always things you can pick up along the way. Anyone who thinks calling in coyotes is easy has obviously not spent much time out in the field.
There are a lot of factors that need to come together for a successful hunt, but I’ve learned a few important things over the years that have helped improve my chances of success regardless of where in the country I’m hunting.
First, pick out a great shooting gun/ammo combination. My personal favorite caliber is a .22-250 in a Winchester Model 70 Coyote Light. As far as ammo goes, I’ve been shooting the 55-grain Winchester Varmint X that is specifically designed for varmint and predator hunters. What sets this ammo apart is the polymer tipped bullet. It has incredible accuracy at long distances because of its high ballistic coefficient, which is more than your typical hollow point varmint round. Another great feature is the thin jacket and lead core. These two allow for explosive fragmentation that knocks predators down on the spot, which is what we’re all looking for.
Once you have your gun and ammo all set, your call selection is next on the list. I like to bring both mouth and electronic calls. It really depends on the situation, but it’s nice to have both so you’re always prepared. If I’m sneaking into a setup and am worried about possibly being seen, many times I will just take cover and use a mouth call. These take a little practice, but are inexpensive and a great way for a new hunter to get started on a low budget.
Electronic calls can be very helpful, but are by no means a necessity to be a successful predator hunter. A few major benefits you will find is their wide variety of sounds; more volume for windy days, and it makes it easier when you’re hunting solo. If I’m taking the time to setup an electronic call, I almost always pair it with a decoy. This takes all the attention off you and your position and causes that coyote to zone in right on your decoy and the sound. I usually put it 30-50 yards away from my setup and ensure I can easily see and shoot downwind of my call.
Lastly, the one thing I never leave home without is set of bipods or shooting sticks, often times both. Not every setup is the same and I like to be prepared for any type of shooting scenario whether it’s on hay bails, on a hill, or tucked in the brush. The shooting sticks work great if I am sitting up and allow me to have a little higher vantage point. They also allow me to pan with a moving coyote a little easier and smoother than bipods. There are situations, however, where prone is the only way to go. When this is the case I set my shooting sticks aside and extend my bipods. I like to also stick my backpack under the stock of my gun for added stability when possible. This is something I’ve found to be extremely helpful in making those long distance shots and can make even the most awkward sets easier to shoot from. Hopefully these tips will help out, it’s not going to get you a coyote on every set but hopefully increase your chances of success.
Melissa Bachman is an incredibly hardcore and intense hunter – perhaps one of the more passionate hunters you will ever meet.