Tips and Tactics add Excitement and Results to the Hunt
My interest in hunting coyotes with a shotgun was given a significant boost when I attended the annual Varmint Hunters Association Jamboree in Pierre, South Dakota, and had the opportunity to talk with TV celebrity Les Johnson of the television show, Predator Quest. I’d watched Les’s show for many years, and I was anxious to get his personal prospective on this challenging sport.
I learned that although the vast majority of predators are shot with rifles, a shotgun can add a great deal of fast moving excitement to a hunt. In order to be successful, however, this sport requires some specialized gear, and you’ll need to adopt different tactics than you’ll generally employ in predator hunting.
My first real exposure to shotgun coyotes came when I joined forces with my close friend Tim Brandt and several other hunters on an outing to central Wyoming. Tim is an Ammunition Communications Specialist for ATK, and works closely with their line of Federal Premium ammunition. Shortly after we arrived at camp, Tim unveiled a big surprise when he brought out several boxes of Federal’s brand new Premium Heavyweight® Coyote Ammo and passed them out.
Since I’d left my shotguns back home, I accepted Tim’s kind offer to borrow one of the Benelli semi-autos he’d brought along. The plan was to cram as much into the trip as possible by shooting prairie dogs and ground squirrels in the morning and early afternoon, then head out for coyotes in the evenings. Dan Stone, our guide from COTA Depredation Services, seemed confident that with a little calling (using his electronic call and his mouth calls), we ought to be able to locate a few dogs.
Incidental shot gunning of coyotes is about as uncommon as varmint hunting in New York’s Central Park. While there is no shortage of varmints in Central Park, the police are often the only people allowed to hunt them, making shooting opportunities rare indeed. In similar fashion, getting a coyote within range of a scattergun requires patience, good calling and excellent camouflage matching the area’s natural surroundings. Even then, many of these wily ol’ dogs are conditioned to avoid a charge of lead and may simply refuse to come within range of the shotgun.
To help overcome their natural reluctance, I like to team up with a couple of rifle shooters, utilizing a triangle layout with the shot gunner located at the corner closest to the anticipated action, and the two rifle shooters positioned on the other two corners behind the shot gunner. This layout provides a range advantage to the shotgun shooter. If an electronic call is being used, the speaker should be placed about 30 feet in front of the shotgun. If only a mouth call is being used, the calling should originate in the general location of the rifle shooters.
Editor’s Note: Read the full story in the June issue.
Story & Pictures by Tom Tabor