Coyote Gun Cogitations | Great Days Outdoors

Coyote Gun Cogitations

The terrain you hunt determines what is the best coyote gun for you to use. In thick-cover areas or dense timber like land in much of the eastern U.S., you may prefer to use a shotgun shooting No. 1 buckshot or a specially-designed predator load or a small .243 rifle. If you’re hunting where you can see 100-1,000 yards, like sparse timber, large pastures, new clear-cuts or abandoned railroad tracks, a long-range rifle like a .22-.250, a .243 or a 6.5X284 with a rifle scope may be best.  

Using a ballistics chart for shooting will enable you to shoot more accurately. Knowing how to range coyotes for long-distance shooting will increase your accuracy and reduce misses. A gunsmith or a local sporting-goods store will be good sources for the caliber of rifle and bullet you’ll need to shoot coyotes in your area. 

What To Know About Coyotes

The coyote, a tough, adaptable, strong and smart member of the dog family, has its name derived from Coyote, the sacred god of the Aztecs. It’s also known as the prairie wolf and the songdog. The fastest of the canine species, coyotes cruise at speeds of 25-30 miles per hour (mph) and can leap 14 feet. Male coyotes generally are about three feet long, two feet tall, weigh 30-50 pounds and display many color phases. 

Although the encroachment of people, houses and airports has hurt other wild animals, some biologists predict that even if the U.S. is covered with these trappings of civilization, the coyote and the cockroach still will survive. Today researchers spot coyotes in suburbia almost everywhere. 

coyote in the snow
A coyote hunter needs to put the crosshairs of his range finder at the feet of a coyote to determine the correct distance, instead of lining-up the range finder’s crosshairs at the center of the coyote and taking a reading there.

As omnivores, coyotes eat an amazing variety of foods, including rabbits, rodents, turkey poults and eggs, dogs, cats, berries, garden produce and garbage. They’re found throughout North America from (Alaska to New England and south through Mexico to Panama, probably due to their adaptability in changing their breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive. They use more than 10-different sounds to communicate including a yapping howl, yelping, barking and huffing. They are also susceptible to rabies, distemper and canine parvovirus and have been reported to attack humans under certain circumstances. 


Lessons From A Coyote Expert

I first met the late Steve DeMers of Montana on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere after he’d just taken a coyote at 1,102 yards. A friend of mine told me, “John, I was beside him with my binoculars. I heard the report of the rifle, and after what seemed like an eternity, the coyote just fell over. It was an incredible shot.” 

DeMers, a coyote hunter since 1974, then hunted coyotes as a wildlife specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce the damage coyotes did to landowners’ crops and livestock. DeMers told me about calling in three coyotes that were together at one time on a hunt. 

coyote gun
With the equipment Steve DeMers used, he often could take two to three more coyotes after shooting the first one.

“I took the first coyote at 437 yards, the second at 387 yards and the third at 108 yards.” DeMers had learned that having a stable gun rest improved his long-range shooting accuracy,” he said.

Why Use The Best Coyote Gun And Equipment

DeMers realized he could take more coyotes if he could determine what was the best equipment. Many of his friends suggested he shoot a .50 caliber rifle. 

“The .50 caliber rifle I used could take out a tank at 2,000 yards,” DeMers said. 

“The majority of DeMers hunting was in very open terrain, where he easily could see from 300-1,000 yards. Since DeMers wanted a range finder that could range distances at 2,000 yards, he purchased a battleship rangefinder at a military surplus store. 


“Once I started shooting that rifle off a bench, I could hit a 2-foot target at 2,000 yards, but the rifle weighed 45 pounds with the scope mounted on it. I could hardly move this 45-pound-plus rifle to get a shot at a coyote that came within 50 yards. I had too much gun and range finder.”

DeMers scrapped his oversized equipment and began shooting a .300 Magnum. He experimented with rifles and calibers until he settled on the 6.5×284 with a Nesika action from Nesika Bay Precision. 

The 6.5×284 was a much more accurate gun in the field than the .300 Magnum, plus the 6.5×284 had light recoil, which enabled me to see through my scope where my bullet hit after the shot,’ Demers said.  “Often if the coyote didn’t know where the shot had come from, he’d run a few yards, sit down, and look for me, giving me the chance to take a second shot. If I missed a shot due to estimating the windage incorrectly, I still could make adjustments for windage and elevation on my scope and shoot more accurately on the second shot by seeing where the first bullet had hit in relation to the coyote.” 

DeMers selected an 8-1/2-twist 30-inch Krieger barrel, a fully-adjustable master class stock designed for shooting prone, a Nightforce 8-32×56 NXS rifle scope, a modified Sinclair F-class bipod and 142-grain Sierra MatchKing moly-coated hollow-point boat-tail design bullets he hand loaded with 49 grains of Hodgdon 4350 powder, which would deliver a 3,000-foot-per-second muzzle velocity.  

DeMers discovered the Leica Locator and discarded his battleship rangefinder. 

“I knew I had to purchase quality equipment. This binoculars/rangefinder Leica Locator sold for $5,700 when I bought it. These binoculars compensated for slope, whether I was shooting uphill or downhill, and would range accurately out to 1,400 yards, even on a flat, snowy surface.” 

Long Distance Coyote Gun Accuracy

To shoot accurately at long distances, where you put the crosshairs of the rangefinder when trying to range a coyote made the difference in success. Placing the crosshairs on the center of the animal meant you often were ranging a distance of 4 to 7 inches above the animal. 

“Instead of lining up the crosshairs of my range finder at the center of the coyote and taking my reading at that point, I put the crosshairs of the rangefinder at the coyote’s feet to determine the correct distance,” DeMers noted. 

long range coyote gun
Whether you’re hunting coyotes at night and having to make long-range shots or in the daytime, the better the equipment you use, and the more accurately you can shoot, the more coyotes you can harvest.

When taking a shot, DeMers didn’t hurry but instead spent 20 seconds or so to get his tripod in position, mount his scope, range the coyote, and adjust the windage and the elevation from his prone position, his preferred way to shoot to be more stable. He checked the bubble level on his rifle to make sure he wasn’t canting the rifle either to the right or the left, throwing his shot off target. To avoid spooking a coyote he modified his Sinclair bipod by adding skids to slide it quietly along the ground.

Coyote Gun Barrel Maintenance

DeMers always cleaned his barrel after shooting 300 rounds through it and never encountered an accuracy problem. He blew his action out with air daily after hunting and cleaned the action about every three weeks. Attention to detail spelled success for his long-range accuracy. DeMers kept a notebook, logging every round he fired during each hunt. He sighted in his rifle about every three months. Although his barrel was good up to 1,000 rounds, sometimes the throat would show some wear. DeMers put a new barrel on his rifle after shooting 1,000 rounds. 

Calling In Coyotes

DeMers used an electronic call and preferred to give the coyotes different sounds than what they’d heard previously from other hunters. He liked the coyote howl call, the pup squeal and other coyote sounds rather than prey-species calls for his hunting area. He wanted to trigger a territorial response from the coyotes to call in more adult coyotes. He sometimes would stop a coyote by yelling or howling at it with his natural voice to get a shot. He learned not to let a coyote get too close to him, since the animal often would come running in and be much harder to stop. 

coyote call
Once the song dog hits the ground, the hunter knows he’s been as accurate as possible, no matter the distance.

Coyote Hunting Tactics

Coyotes are so smart that you must be careful of your scent. Washing your clothing in scent-eliminating products and applying odor-concealing products to your body will help coyotes not smell you, if they circle downwind. Besides pastures and open terrain, coyotes also like to stay around power lines and abandoned railroad tracks. If you can pinpoint a rock face that runs several yards to your left and your right, you can block a coyote. As the coyote comes into a call and attempts to move downwind of you, the rock bluff will stop the animal, which then will come down the edge of the rock wall, straight to you. 

Best Shotgun for Coyote Hunting

Mossberg 935 Magnum – Turkey

Mossberg 935 Magnum - Turkey


  • Easy to operate with 3.5″ stopping power
  • Dual Gas Vent System
  • Overbored Barrels
  • Quick-Empty Magazine Release Button
  • Stock Drop Spacer System
  • Drilled and Tapped Receiver

The Mossberg 935 Magnum – Turkey Semi-Auto Shotgun. While designed for turkey, this versatile shotgun works well for coyote hunters too. Featuring a synthetic Mossy Oak Obsession stock with a comfortable pistol grip, and an Obsession finish on the barrel. Equipped with one vent rib overbored barrel and a 3.5-inch chamber, this 12 gauge shotgun is a perfect choice for any coyote hunter seeking reliable performance in the field.

Best Budget Bolt Action Coyote Gun

Ruger American Predator

Ruger American Predator


  • Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger
  • Cold Hammer-Forged Barrel
  • Threaded Muzzle
  • Tang Safety

Experience hunting success with the Ruger American Predator rifle, known for its exceptional minute-of-angle accuracy. The rifle boasts a one-piece, three-lug bolt with a 70-degree throw, offering ample scope clearance and smooth cycling with its full diameter bolt body and dual cocking cams. The patent-pending Power Bedding system, featuring an integral bedding block, ensures precise receiver alignment and free-floating barrel for outstanding accuracy. Designed for quick and easy handling, the rifle’s ergonomic, lightweight synthetic stock with a soft rubber buttpad combines a classic look with modern forend contouring and grip serrations.

Best Long-Range Coyote Gun

Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon

Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon


  • Inflex Technology recoil pad reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb
  • Feather Trigger offers a crisp pull with minimal overtravel
  • A-TACS Camo pattern offers maximum concealment
  • Rotary magazine ensures smooth, in-line feeding
  • 60-degree bolt lift offers faster cycling and easier bolt manipulation
  • X-Lock scope mounts use four screws for more secure mounting
  • Top-tang safety and bolt unlock button offer added safety measures
  • Free-floated barrel and recessed muzzle crown deliver reliable accuracy

Introducing the Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed Camo Rifle, a lightweight hunting rifle renowned for its consistent and reliable straight shooting. This Browning rifle features a free-floated barrel for exceptional accuracy, safeguarded by a recessed crown to preserve the precise rifling pattern. The Inflex Technology recoil pad significantly reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb, enhancing shooting comfort. Equipped with a Feather TriggerTM, the rifle ensures a crisp and clean trigger pull. Its 60-degree bolt lift allows for easy bolt manipulation and faster cycling. With the A-TACS Camo pattern providing advanced concealment, the Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed Camo Rifle delivers dependable and accurate performance, making it the perfect choice for a long range coyote gun.

Best Rimfire Coyote Gun

Magnum Research MLR-1722M

Magnum Research MLR-1722M


  • Stainless Steel Barrel
  • Patented Gas System
  • Hogue OverMolded Stock
  • Features an 11 degree crown
  • Patented gas system

The Magnum Research MLR-1722M is a high-quality rimfire rifle renowned for its exceptional accuracy and reliability. Designed by Magnum Research, a renowned firearms manufacturer, this semi-automatic rifle is chambered in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) caliber. Its precision-engineered components and lightweight yet sturdy construction make it ideal for target shooting, varmint hunting, and plinking. With a sleek design and smooth action, the MLR-1722M delivers a rewarding shooting experience for both novice and experienced shooters alike.

Best AR-Platform Coyote Gun

SIG SAUER RM400 Tread Predator

SIG SAUER RM400 Tread Predator


  • M-LOK handguard with lightening cuts to reduce weight
  • 3 chamber compensator
  • Ambidextrous charging handle made of aircraft grade aluminum and a dual roll pin design
  • ROMEO5 optic featuring a 2MOA dot with ten illumination settings, MOTAC, and 50k battery life
  • Flip-up front and rear iron sights that are easy to install, adjustable, and deploy quickly
  • M-LOK front sight adapter with co-witness height made of lightweight aluminum
  • Multiple configurations of M-LOK grip kits made of high strength polymer
  • Factory upgraded flat blade, 1-stage trigger

Tailor-made for predator hunting, the M400 TREAD PREDATOR boasts specially crafted features to meet the exact needs of hunters. This aluminum-framed rifle comes with a Cerakote Elite Jungle finish, ensuring minimal visibility in wooded or brushy environments. Its precision-style stock is adjustable for comb height and length of pull, all while maintaining a lightweight design. The 16-inch stainless steel barrel features a thread protector to eliminate snag points, and the rifle is equipped with a lightened free-float M-LOK 15 PREDATOR handguard, hardened polished trigger, and ambidextrous controls. The Gen 2 Tread Predator includes notable upgrades like the Magpul PRS Lite Stock, Sig Flat Match Grade Trigger, and Sig Black Polymer Pistol Grip with a steeper angle.

For fun during the day or at night, hunt coyotes year-round in some states and during specific seasons in others. Check your state’s regulations by visiting your state’s Game and Fish Department online. 

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