How to Hunt Coyotes with a Rifle

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A great option for hunting coyotes (and other predators) is a rifle.

But what type of rifle?

Good question, to answer this we really need to think about the caliber size of the rifle. If you’re at all familiar with guns and shooting you probably already know this so scoot ahead if you need to.

What does Caliber Size Mean?

Basically, the smaller the caliber size, the smaller the size of the bullets that are ejected from the barrel of the rifle.

The larger the caliber (and therefore bullets) that is being used means that they will pack a bigger punch when they hit a coyote. Unfortunately, this means that the pelt and meat will also take more damage depending on where you hit the coyote. Larger caliber bullets also cost more.

The smaller the number, the smaller the caliber rifle. So a 0.204 caliber bullet is going to be smaller in diameter than a .300.

There are heaps of options when it comes to choosing a rifle, so I will be brief and give you a shortlist of the different calibers that are commonly chosen by many coyote hunters. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

How to Hunt Coyotes with a Rifle
Soldier with rifle in cold forest. in cold forest. Winter warfare and military concept

Common Rifle Calibers used for Coyote Hunting

  • 0.17 Caliber: Known for its high velocity and flat trajectory, this caliber is suitable for small game hunting, including coyotes, at medium to long-range distances.
  • 0.204 Caliber: Another popular caliber for varmint hunting, the 0.204 offers a flat trajectory and high velocity, making it an excellent choice for accurate shots on coyotes.
  • 0.22 Caliber: The 0.22 caliber is well-known for its affordability and availability, making it a favorite among many hunters for small game, including coyotes. The .22 LR is suitable for short-range hunting, while the .22-250 is more appropriate for longer distances.
  • 0.223 Caliber: This caliber is popular among coyote hunters due to its flat trajectory, relatively low recoil, and versatility. The .223 Remington is a common choice for predator hunting and can be effective at distances up to 300 yards.
  • 0.243 Caliber: The .243 Winchester is a versatile caliber suitable for both varmint and big game hunting. Its flat trajectory and low recoil make it a popular choice for coyote hunters, especially when hunting in open terrain.
  • 0.300 Caliber: Although larger than other calibers listed here, the .300 caliber is still used by some coyote hunters who want more power and accuracy at longer ranges. The .300 Blackout and .300 Winchester Short Magnum are popular choices within this caliber category.
  • 0.308 Caliber: The .308 Winchester is a versatile and powerful caliber, used for both big game and predator hunting. Its effective range and accuracy make it a suitable choice for experienced coyote hunters.

What Caliber Rifle Should You Buy?

There is no real ‘wrong’ answer to this question. You really just need to keep in mind that the larger caliber rifles will generally drop the coyote in a single shot.

If you go with a smaller caliber rifle, you may find it takes either a well-placed shot, a couple of rounds, or a short walk to locate the wounded predator.

What Rifle Loading Style Should you Buy?

There are three options to consider here, and the choice really comes down to preference and your budget:

TypeDescriptionCost
Semi-AutomaticThis type will reload itself each time it is fired, allowing for faster follow-up shots$$$$
Bolt ActionYou pull a lever back to load (or ‘cock’) the weapon, which offers more precision and is generally more affordable$$$
Pump-ActionUses a pumping action to perform the reload, which can be faster than bolt action but not as fast as semi-automatic$$$

Should You Buy a Rifle or a Shotgun for Hunting Coyotes?

Basically, there are two main considerations you need to make when thinking about the type of gun to buy for your hunting trip.

  1. Rifles have a longer range to hit your target (up to 200-300 yards versus a shotgun that has an effective range of around 40 yards). This makes rifles more suitable for hunting coyotes in open terrain where shots at longer distances are likely.
  2. Rifles don’t have the spread of BBs in the same way that a shotgun does. This means that the killing radius is smaller and therefore requires more accuracy when shooting. On the other hand, shotguns offer a wider spread, increasing the chances of hitting a moving target at closer range, which can be advantageous in certain situations, such as hunting in dense brush.

Quick Tips for Coyote Hunting With a Rifle

  • If possible, wait until the coyote stops any movement – Unfortunately, coyotes quite often move continuously, so you need to watch carefully and be patient to pick the right moment.
  • Practice your shot placement! – If the coyote you are targeting is reluctant to stand still, then you will need to rely on some accurate shot placement. Familiarize yourself with coyote anatomy and aim for vital organs like the heart and lungs for a quick, humane kill. Practice makes perfect!
  • Consider using a bipod or shooting sticks – These tools can help steady your rifle, increasing accuracy and reducing fatigue during long hunting sessions.
  • Adjust for wind and elevation – When hunting at longer distances, it’s essential to account for factors like wind and elevation. Many modern scopes have built-in adjustments for these factors, but it’s always a good idea to practice and understand how they affect your shot.
  • Don’t forget about camouflage – Coyotes have keen eyesight and can detect movement easily. Make sure to wear appropriate camouflage clothing and use natural cover to blend into your surroundings.

By following these tips and selecting the right rifle for your needs, you’ll be well on your way to successful coyote hunting. Good luck, and happy hunting!

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