My Dad is not a hunter. He is a preacher and a farmer, neither of which is a lucrative profession in our part of Tennessee.
When Dad was younger, he did find time to do some occasional quail and rabbit hunting. Later in life, he tried deer hunting but found that sitting in a tree during freezing weather was not for him, especially because he greatly preferred beef and pork to the flavor of venison. In his earlier years, he enjoyed shooting squirrels with a .22 rifle and really liked the way they fried up with a nice batch of gravy. When asked where to shoot a squirrel, he would usually reply, “Anywhere in the eye.”
Dad is also not what one would refer to as a gun collector. He likes guns and would shoot with us kids from time to time, but he did not acquire guns just for the sake of owning them. He is, or at least used to be, an incurable trader. That is how he did end up with a gun or two.
He would trade almost anything. He once traded a tractor for a plow horse. He was constantly trading vehicles, as well. We never knew what he would drive home in, but it was often not the car he had left in that morning.
As far as gun trades, I remember that he once traded our pigs for a double-barreled 12-gauge. Also, after one particular morning’s hunt, he traded six squirrels and his shirt for his friend’s shotgun. Guns were good trading material but nothing that Dad really got excited about.
As the years passed, Dad quit hunting. I don’t think he really thought much about it; he just got busy. He was preoccupied with working a job, raising four boys, serving the church and trying to support his farming habit.
He never showed much interest in guns. When I would show up with a new gun of some sort, he would usually say, “I thought you already had one of those.”
That is why I found it interesting when, one day a couple of years ago, Dad told me he had shot a friend’s rifle. He really liked it. It was pretty accurate and didn’t have much kick to it.
It was a .22 Magnum, and he asked if I had ever heard of one. Sure I had. The .22 Magnum has been around as long as I have. It is a dandy little cartridge. However, like most shooters, I have come to take it for granted. There are many more-powerful cartridges around, and the little .22 Long Rifle is better for plinking.
I asked Dad about his sudden interest in the .22 Magnum. “Coyotes” was his reply. He had seen a couple of them while on his tractor and did not like the idea of coyotes in the pasture with the newborn calves. The .22 Magnum he had fired that day was a semiauto that had a plastic stock and was a bit heavy; but he thought a .22 Magnum would be an ideal coyote rifle, at least under the conditions his gun would be used.
After a few minutes, the topic of discussion changed, and I didn’t think much more about it.
Awhile later, he asked about .22 Magnum rifles once again and if I knew where he might acquire one. He was serious about this thing.
THE LITTLE HENRY
I learned just a few days later that Henry Repeating Arms was building its handy little lever-action in .22 Magnum, and I immediately called McLain’s Firearms and placed an order for one.
The gun arrived wearing a decent-looking walnut stock and handled and functioned very well. Still, before giving the rifle to Dad, I wanted it to be something really special. I wanted the gun to be his and unlike any other. I called upon a friend who had previously done some laser engraving for me and asked him to put Dad’s name on the walnut stock. Also, in keeping with the purpose of the little carbine, I had an image of a coyote engraved beside Dad’s name.
A couple of days later, I found Dad walking around outside the barn. I told him I had something for him in the truck. When I pulled the rifle from the cab and handed it to him, you would think I had given him a million bucks. He didn’t say much, but it was obvious he really liked that little Henry. Looking at the gun, never lifting his eyes from it, he thanked me profusely. (I heard he showed that little gun to everyone that stopped by for the next couple of months.)
I pulled a box of Federal .22 Magnums from my pocket and showed him how to load the gun. We both fired the little Henry, plinking a few sycamore balls from a tree over by the creek. Later, he thought it might help by placing a scope on the little coyote rifle—nothing fancy; just a scope. I picked up a new Simmons at a gun show, and we got it sighted dead-on at 60 yards.
I don’t think he ever had the rifle with him when a coyote was around, but occasionally, I hear him firing the little Henry at sycamore balls or walnuts. We live only a few hundred yards apart, and sometimes, when he hears me testing a new gun, he brings over the coyote rifle for a little practice.
While there are many choices in firearms for varmint and predator hunting, the best rifle for coyotes is a Henry .22 Magnum … at least for me and Dad.
Jeff Quinn is a full-time writer/reviewer on Gunblast.com, an online gun magazine started in 2000. He has also written for the Gun Digest Annual and enjoys living life in the woods of Tennessee, where he raises Longhorn cattle … and his grandkids.
A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of Gun World magazine.