A well-rounded predator hunter should have more than one tool in his toolbox. The old adage that says, "If your only tool is a hammer, soon every problem looks like a nail," applies to predator hunting, too. Besides calling—which we sometimes get stuck on—a good hunter knows how to stalk and how to work baits. Another valuable skill is the ability to go long.
Unless you hunt exclusively in heavy cover, counting on every shot to be a close one is wild optimism. I was reminded of this because the Super Bowl signals my time to switch rifles. Around here, the dumb coyotes are dead by now and those left alive are a lot more careful than they were 3 months ago. That means I start carrying something with more reach.
For me, it's usually a wonderfully accurate T/C ICON chambered in .243 Win. What constitutes "long range" is different for everyone, but I need a rifle with the accuracy and horsepower to anchor a coyote beyond a quarter-mile. The ability to buck wind helps too. So far, the ICON and I have done OK to about 500 yards, but beyond that I don't hit much.
The morning after Super Bowl was a good example. It found me sitting on a treeline watching a patch of bush across an open pasture. I'd just seen a coyote disappear into that bush while I was walking in, and because I was going to try and call here anyway, I got comfy and started squeaking. Within a few minutes, six coyotes were in the open, looking at me. Of those, only two showed any real interest, and they were wary enough that my best efforts couldn't bring them any closer than a lasered 310 yards. I had the ICON on its first yearly outing, so I was fairly confident I could start shooting.
I dialed the scope to 300 yards, took a wind reading, wrapped up in my sling and used a handy fence post for support. The shot put my target down and coyotes scattered everywhere. I laid the ki-yis on thick and heavy but nothing stopped running, and I never succeeded in pulling anything back out of the willows, either. Eventually, one dog that had run off in the opposite direction from the rest wandered back in an apparent effort to rejoin the rest of the group. But he stuck to a distant fenceline and remained far enough away that I couldn't get a good laser reading on him. I estimated 550 yards, dialed it and shot, but he ran off untouched. Like I said, my hit percentages drop rapidly beyond that 500 mark.
One of my goals this summer is to work on those long coyotes. A rangefinder that can actually read a coyote beyond 500 yards is high on my list. More practice is, too. Suggestions are welcome.