Most days, a typical coyote hunt for me consists of what seems like endless treks through knee-deep snow, and countless stands spent blowing on hand calls of some sort. Coyote hunting for me has always been about trying to entice the weariest of prey to come out and "play," or for a free meal. This story is of a totally different coyote hunting technique that kind of presented itself, I had no part in calling or enticing my prey on this certain morning, although I tried desperately.
I was at home, just lazing about on the first day of March this year, waiting for the Canadian winter to let loose the grip it held fast on most of the prairie provinces. The morning looked rather cool, with some cloud cover, and a bit of a breeze from south-southeast, which kept me from getting out and trying a set or two. As I sat watching whatever it was I was watching on TV, my dad burst into the house, shouting something to the effect of, "There's a coyote about 50 yards across the tracks in the neighbours field!" Once I verified what he was blubbering about was correct, I instantly dashed for my cold weather gear, and most importantly, my calling rifle!
Once dressed, I speedily rushed out to the tracks in front of the house, they're only about 110 yards from my door, so it only took me a minute to close the distance from the house to the tracks.
I took up position on the north side of the abandoned rail cars to view my quarry. To my surprise, there were actually 3 coyotes, not just one. The downside of this was, they had all moved out to the middle of the field, a distance I estimated to be roughly 475 yards. I managed to crawl the 15 yards to the far side of the tracks and hunkered down into the three plus feet of snowdrifts. As I settled in, I noticed that I was being watched by 3 sets of super acute eyes. At about this point I realised I had forgotten my bi-pod, but no worries, I rested my rifle onto the page wire, right at the side of the rail tie fence post, a rock solid rest. I then gave the coyotes a bit of time to settle down, as all three were still watching my every movement. The most weary of the three eventually decided he had enough and slowly got up and trotted over the hill top he was positioned on, oh well I thought, there are still two targets available.
After the initial settling time, I figured I'd try to bring 'em in a little closer than the almost 500 yards distance they were situated at. I reached into my snow camo cover-ups and realized I had forgotten my howler, the perfect call for this time of year, being mating season and all. The only call I had was a Randy Anderson Ki-Yi but it would have to do. I started calling by softly mimicking a cottontail in distress, to which they replied with a series of warning barks - GREAT, I thought, now they're never going to commit. I was busted and they knew I was too far away to do any real damage; at least that's what they thought!
At this point, I realised I would have to just try the shot at that distance, and hope my minimal amount of long range practice during the previous summer would come in handy. Atop my Remington 22-250 rests a Burris FFII 4.5-14X42mm with the ballistic plex reticle. And according to my long-range practice, and the estimated distance to the coyote, I decided on using the second last plex line of the reticle.
I acquired the sight picture and raised the crosshairs so that the second to last plex line was resting on the coyote's vitals. At this point, for some reason, I came down with the worst bought of "buck fever" I have ever had in my life. It was bad enough that I had to actually look away for about a minute and really concentrate on calming my breathing, as well as my mile-a-minute heart rate. After I talked myself down, I reacquired the sight picture in my scope, levelled the second to last plex line on the coyote's vitals, and touched off a round. It took the round about a second to reach the coyote, and by that time my rifle had come to rest after the recoil and through the scope I witnessed the coyote's head slump down onto the bale. It didn't twitch, kick, or flop at all, an instant humane death! The 50-grain Berger match bullet entered high on the coyote's neck, severing the spinal cord causing instant death. I hadn't compensated for the slight crosswind and the bullet drifted about 5 inches, and was almost too high, but this day, luck was definitely on my side!
At the shot, the second coyote busted straight Southwest towards the brush in full retreat. Many a time I have noticed that the "Pro's" always either howl, bark or Ki-Yi to try and entice a second coyote back in after the shot. Without even using a call, I just started howling like a mad man would at a full moon, and to my utter surprise, the second coyote came back out in the field to about 650 yards. I figured he was way too far, but then again so was the last one right! I smoothly switched sides of the fence post I was resting on, acquired the sight picture, raised the muzzle so that the last plex line was resting on the coyote's vitals and squeezed the trigger. Again I was able to view the shot through the scope as it slammed into the snow directly in front of the coyote, I had forgotten about the slight crosswind yet again and missed. Oh well I thought, it was a clean miss, I may have educated him, but at least I had one pile of fur to show for my longest shot to date!
I thought about walking the short distance back home to get my sled in order to collect my prize, but was so excited I decided to step off the distance to my kill, a total of 505 steps from fence post to the round bale the coyote rested atop! Although by the time I was half way home hauling the 35 + lb coyote, I had wished I went home for the sled!