- October 8, 2016
- Doug Howlett
Whitetail hunting will probably always reign supreme across the United States, but unless you’ve been stranded on a deserted island, you’ve had to recognize that predator hunting is definitely among the fastest growing and hottest types of hunting around. Why? It’s simple: opportunity. Opportunity abounds with coyotes moving into virtually every pocket of available habitat and with year-round open seasons in virtually everywhere but Massachusetts, predator hunting is great for filling in those gaps of time between other seasons when sportsmen would have to find other things to do.
The best thing about predator hunting is it takes little to get started. In fact, most hunters likely already have everything they need in the way of camo, boots and even guns. Calls may be the only real thing you need to add to your arsenal and head out on a predator hunt.
Former Knight & Hale PR rep Mike Mattly notes several primary calls a hunter will want to start out with. First and foremost is a rabbit squealer (that of a cottontail or jack rabbit, the latter being a little higher pitched, depending on what lives in the area you’re hunting), a mouse squeaker for close up calling and a coyote howler, which allows the user to deliver high-volume barks and howls that will challenge a coyote’s territory as well as incite them to betray their location with answering barks and howls of their own. For the beginner who doesn’t have the opportunity to learn from a skilled predator hunter, companies such as Knight & Hale, Hunter’s Specialties and Primos all offer great instructional DVDs.
Where legal, which is in most every place where predators are concerned, electronic calls are particularly helpful for both veterans and beginners as they offer perfect calling, great volume and often even allow a hunter to set up a call away from his or her setup spot, reducing the odds of detection by an incoming dog. Cass Creek’s Mini Series Predator Call is a super affordable electronic handheld game call, while the high performing Johnny Stewart Attractor Max from Hunter’s Specialties features a wireless remote with 10 sound keys.
Choose Your Firearm
As for firepower, virtually any shotgun or rifle larger than a rimfire-sized round will do. Hornady’s Neal Emery likes the .223 as a good all around caliber for coyotes, particularly given the ready availability of the ammunition as well as the number of guns chambered in the round. Add the super popular ARs to traditional firearm offerings and .223 is a can’t miss option.
“It’s hard to beat the .223,” Emery says. Hornady’s 58-gr. V-Max Superformance predator load is devastating on coyote-sized game in the 200- to 300-yard range, while .223 bullets in the 68- to 75-gr. range perform better at longer distances, but still provide easy feeding in semi-auto ARs.
“I also like the .204. It is an extremely fast and flat caliber that works great when shots are kept at reasonable distances.” He notes that a 300-yard shot with the round is probably the maximum for the average shooter, with windy days restricting it to around 200 yards. For hunting situations where longer shots will be the norm, good options are the flat-shooting .22-250 and a deer hunter favorite—the .243 Win.