The snow and brutally cold temperatures we have endured over the past couple weeks makes doing anything outdoors uncomfortable.
However, for those that want to fight the cold weather and still have some fun outdoors, now is a great time of year.
One of the best things that January and February brings to hunters is hungry coyotes. The conditions lately are perfect to call in and shoot these wild canines.
The combination of snow cover and bitterly cold temps makes if very difficult for a coyote to make a living. Catching mice is tough in the snow, especially when cold winds form a crust on the surface. Catching larger prey is also difficult.
Rabbits, squirrels and even deer make great meals but a coyote or even a pack of coyotes expend a massive amount of energy on a chase for any of these targets. In truly harsh weather coyotes become as much scavenger as predator.
The coyote hunter uses these facts to his advantage. Calling coyotes this time of year with wounded rabbit calls is the most effective and efficient way to get a dog into range. That is exactly what happened on New Year’s Day.
I was hunting a spot along the levee where I had seen lots of coyote sign during deer season. I had made a couple of set-ups and calling sequences when I decided to give it a try right at the base of the levee.
I was in snow camo in 2 inches of fresh powder over about an inch of existing snow. I had to wear sunglasses to decrease the glare of the snow on this bright sunshiny morning. I tucked-in at the base of the levee within a clump of switch-grass. I literally disappeared. I began calling very softly.
As I called I caught a glimpse of movement along the river. I readied my rifle and attempted to find my target in my scope. The coyote was moving right at me. That is less than a perfect shot.
At 20-yards I stood up and the dog turned immediately. As soon as he was broadside and my crosshair found his shoulder I fired. I could see nothing but smoke.
I topped the levee just in time to see him fall dead in a cut cornfield. The smoke I mentioned earlier was because I was hunting that day with a .50-caliber muzzleloading rifle. Let me take just a minute to promote this type of weapon for coyote hunting.
Traditionally, varmint hunting has been done with high-powered, flat-shooting center fire rifles. Shooting at great distance gives the hunter a great advantage and I admit that I admire those guys who shoot predators at hundreds of yards.
However, being a dedicated professional game caller, I would rather make a really close shot as a result of my calling and concealment than a long one.
I shoot a THOMPSON/CENTER ARMS Pro Hunter in .50-caliber. The Pro Hunter is a stainless steel, composite stock version of the ever-popular Encore. I cannot count the number of deer I have taken with this gun. Its accuracy and dependability are the main reasons I began coyote hunting with it. It puts predators down as quickly and cleanly as it does deer. I own several muzzleloaders and this is, by far, my favorite.
The glass I chose to mount on my Pro Hunter is the best scope I have ever owned. It is an Apex 3-9 made by ALPEN OPTICS. This scope has fully multi-coated lenses making it great in low light situations and is crystal clear regardless of the weather due to its waterproof, fog-proof and shockproof construction. I also love the ALPEN AccuPlex tapered crosshair.
I shoot sabot .50-caliber bullets made by HORNADY. The sabot sleeve of the Lock-N-Load speed sabot has a peg coming out of its base to accommodate the 50-grain PYRODEX pellets I use to propel my 250-grain bullets. I use three of these pellets. You will read lots of articles that say two pellets are plenty for any muzzleloader application. I tend to disagree and my results speak for themselves.
So get out your long underwear and your heavy boots and get outside this winter and put a hurt on the coyote population in your area. Not only is it great fun, but you will be doing a great service for many game animals along the way.
Respond and let me know how your predator hunting is going this winter.
By Mike Roux