Leaving the Sandhills of Nebraska behind, along with all the coyotes left unkilled, gave me an uneasy feeling in my stomach I’d not yet experienced at the culmination of a hunt. I surely wasn’t going to miss the lack of trees, but the naked beauty of the hills captivated me, as did the phenomenal willingness of the coyotes to respond to calling.
I know it’s naïve to think I could’ve killed every coyote in that particular region (we ended up with a total of 27), but it’s calving season, and I learned upon departure that a neighboring rancher had contacted Nebraska Game and Fish because he’d lost two calves to coyote predation the night before. And it would also be naïve to think those are the only two claves that would meet that fate this spring. It’s hard to walk away from that.
There’s a bit of hope, though, because my boss, Gordy Krahn, is out treading that same dirt right now looking to also pile fur. I’ve been harassing him daily for an update—both for my info and for yours—but the tower-void landscape has apparently left him incommunicado, too. Either that or he’s gone the way of those calves.
As unique as this hunt was, it was like all others in that I understood my primary responsibility was to gather tips, skills and information that I can use while hunting in my backyard, and you can use in yours.
1. ARs rock. I already knew introducing ARs to the hunting industry was the best thing since the invention of boxer-briefs, but the Smith & Wesson M&P15 continued to impress me with its accuracy. And this holds true for all AR-platform rifles. They’re superbly accurate in addition to providing multiple shots without having to take your eye off the target to cycle the action. I’ve said it once and will say it again: Shoot straight or shoot a lot.
2. Ammo composition is more important than caliber. Hornady’s V-Max bullets dropped every coyote that was shot in the chest like last night’s supper—yes, I said “chest," not spine—with minimal external hide damage. I sure as heck don’t want to waste time tracking a coyote, and both .22-250 Rem. and .223 Rem. loads performed in this matter—penetrating and then immediately “exploding.” If this doesn’t drive home the fact that the bullet you choose is just as important as the caliber you choose—regardless of what you’re hunting—then nothing will.
3. The good glass ain’t for wine. Good optics are just as important for popping coyotes as they are for hunting Dall’s sheep. And I learned to not be afraid to try something different. When I first saw the 6-24X50mm Simmons Predator Quest riflescope, I freaked out a little. Seriously? How could I acquire an approaching coyote with a 6X riflescope. Well, in open country when you can spot critters from 1,000 yards, it ain’t a problem. Everything has its application. You wouldn’t pack a snowsuit when traveling to Mexico, so why would you peek through less than adequate optics when you can see for thousands of yards? I dunno, either.
I have video for you, including exclusive footage of Predator Quest’s Les Johnson describing exactly how he calls when beginning a set, and how he changes that call when he’s got a coyote working and begins coaxing that dog for the kill. It’s coming. I promise. Right now I’m nailed to this desk pounding out the April/May issue of North American Hunter. As my mom says, “There’s no rest for the wicked,” but I still don’t know what that means.
Keep your nose to the wind.