Coyote Hunting Gear List
The combination of the AR-15 boom, silencer market, and the coyote’s continual sprawl into the urban landscape have all come together to create a perfect storm. Unfortunately for coyotes, this storm has produced unrelenting pursuit for the species! With new rifle calibers, new coyote calls, and rising tournament communities, coyote hunting is gaining in popularity. This type of hunting allows a hunter to not only control the predator population around hunting properties, farms, and now even urban areas, but also to carry a wide range of weaponry into the field.
Besides the various calibers, guns, accessories, and opportunities to hunt coyotes, the seasonality and nature of the hunting also increases its popularity. Coyote season arrives in most states just as deer season closes, offering a hunting opportunity in the winter months before spring turkey season arrives. The method to hunt coyotes during the winter offseason months is comprised of several setups hunted over the duration of one hour or less (15-45+ minutes per setup). This results in quick, adrenaline filled, and highly successful hunts in a variety of environments.
As with any other hunting, the popularity brings debate amongst hunters over which calls are best, which optics are best, which sounds are best, and of course the most popular debate…”which caliber is best for coyotes.” While opinions are vast, there is one thing that is certain, carrying every necessary piece of coyote hunting gear into the field is a must!
Coyote Hunting Gear “Must Haves”
Coyote hunting gear can greatly vary from hunter to hunter, from region to region, or simply by a setup’s habitat and layout. Being agile with your gear, and understanding the needs for different coyote hunting scenarios will lead to the best gear layout possible. Overall the same components are needed to excel at coyote hunting. The list includes:
Best Calibers for Coyote Hunting
The most popular debate related to coyote hunting gear is centered on rifle caliber of choice. While some believe the .223/5.56 caliber is king, others may have a wide array of calibers that they use. The development of rounds such as the 6.5 Creedmoor and .224 Valkyrie has prompted debate as to which round is best for coyotes. Regardless of “new caliber fever” and current debates, your caliber choice needs to exude accuracy, range, and knock down power. The most popular coyote rounds are:
Of course there are many other accepted rounds that can be used, so just because your current rifle is not on the list, doesn’t mean it’s a good coyote gun. If you have a “deer rifle” you have a coyote gun. However, you may just be shooting a round that might be considered overkill. Magnum calibers for instance are widely used as deer rifles but are definitely considered overkill for coyotes. Regardless of your choice, ensure you know the limitations of the rifle you are carrying. If you’re not comfortable with the combination of your riflescope and ammunition past 200 yards, don’t take a shot over 200 yards!
Once you have a favorite round and the gun sighted in, don’t change a thing! Build confidence with that gun and round before changing over to new ammunition. Having trust and confidence in a weapon will allow you to shoot faster and with more accuracy overtime.
Best Ammunition for Coyotes?
Regardless of the caliber, the ammunition you shoot at coyotes should always be optimized for a quick and ethical kill. This means an immediate expansion upon impact. A good coyote round also offers forgiving trajectories, enough bullet weight to survive moderate winds, and still hit the coyote with enough force at reasonable distances. With that being said, most coyote hunters want a tiny entrance hole, but massive expansion on the inside of the coyote. Most “varmint” ammunition does just that. This ammunition has a polymer tip and is designed to improve ballistics, trajectories, and downrange velocity.
Photo: Winchester Ammunition
Of course, the problem with choosing varmint rounds is that they can often result in an unrecovered coyote when encountering bone or a poorly placed shot. This is where you need to make a choice based on your hunting situation.
If you are hunting coyotes for the pelts then a smaller round like a .17 or .204, that doesn’t force an exit wound with a varmint round is a good choice. If you’re hunting for predator population control or for tournaments then knock down power should be the biggest concern, not pelt damage. This style of hunting also strives for the most “humane” kills. These hunters typically shoot a soft point bullet and calibers like the .243 and .22-250 that produce shots that are hard for a coyote to walk away from.
Depending on your caliber of choice, the optics put on your coyote rifle can make or break a hunt. Both the caliber and optics choice should be made from the standpoint of the style hunting and the habitats you’re hunting.
Western hunters in expansive brush country should have a rifle setup that can comfortably handle 200-500 yard shots. Midwestern hunters pursuing coyotes on farms and hunting properties will have a shooting range from 0- 200 yards. If cost is a deciding factor, choices such as a Nikon Prostaff are a great value and perform to a high level. For the purchase of optics that have immaculate glass and reticles for further yardage distances. These scenarios also factor in to what kind of gun you want to shoot!
For the occasional coyote hunter, a precision shooting scope or tactical AR style scope will do just fine. For example, if you already have a Red Dot sight for your platform, the addition of a simple magnifier will allow you to shoot further distances more accurately.
Like most things related to coyote hunting gear, the best option for optics varies according to habitat, hunting style, and the weapon your mounting it to. More often than not, it takes a couple of hunts and optic trials to figure out what is needed for your rifle.
The two most important items when it comes to coyote hunting are the weapon, and the call. Thus coyote calls are always the second most debated item amongst hunters. Mouth calls versus electronic calls, opinions between electronic calls, and even debates of the sounds played out of the calls…it is all debated over! Of course, ongoing debates are extremely useful to pinpoint what coyote calls and sounds work the best depending on situation, location, and time of year. Forums, social groups, and even YouTube are all great places to start researching what calls are best and what sound files work best for different times of year.
The most popular option is an electronic coyote call. Even a budget friendly model like the ICOtec GC300 gives you basic calls to start out with and plenty of volume. However, you might quickly learn that you need an electronic call with more features. When it comes to electronic calls, the debate of the “best calls for coyotes” always comes down to 3 factors.
Volume – Some electronic coyote calls just don’t have enough punch to reach coyotes on the other side of a hill, or held up in a den. Reaching coyotes at a distance is crucial to increase your success rate per set. Volume also refers to the ability of a call to get loud but still hold the sound quality.
Functionality – When it comes to functionality an electronic call for coyotes needs to be able to be quickly deployed, easy to use, and have a decent remote-to-call range. Remotes that only transmit signals 80% of the time will be extremely frustrating and may limit your calling success. With a sub-par remote you might have trouble with volume adjustment or switching the sound in a critical point of the hunt such as a howl to light vole once a coyote is spotted.
Sound Availability – The best purchase option for an electronic call is usually one that includes a large capacity for additional calls. Having a call with a 200, 300 or even 1,000 call capacity gives a hunter the ability to not only throw out different sounds towards coyotes but many other species as well (bobcat, crow, fox, etc.).
While a cheaper call option might seem like a smarter choice, a slightly more expensive model with a larger call capacity will inevitably pay for itself. A call like the FoxPro® Fusion is essentially one of the best coyote calls on the market. With outstanding sound volume, sound quality, call functionality, remote functionality, and with a 1,000 sound capacity, the Fusion is hard to beat!
While most electronic calls are purchased with a stock call library, sounds can and should be added. There are many different sources to buy and download sounds from. Once purchased, the sounds can be uploaded into the call then updated with the remote. Some of the most popular sources for coyote sounds are:
A mix of sounds is always best, however knowing which sounds are realistic for the time of year is a good strategy to start a hunt with. Coyote’s operate on three instincts…to feed, to fight, and to breed. Knowing which sound will trigger a response or coax a coyote into your setup is vital. Being conscious of what is happening during each part of the season will allow you to know which sound to use.
Early Season: (September – November) Prey and pup distress sounds are most successful as they trigger responses from family groups that are used to hunting plentiful prey or defending their intact family groups and territories.
Mid-Season: (November – January) Prey sounds are very successful midway through the season as food sources are scarce and inexperienced coyotes (pups looking for territory) are out roaming the landscape. Coyote howls and barks are becoming more successful as new territories are beginning to be set up or fought over.
Late Season: (January – March) By late January coyotes are thinking about reproduction. By using more coyote vocalizations and female vocalizations, you’re able to simulate a realistic scenario for a coyote to commit to. Also pairing some coyote and coyote distress sounds, in between the vocalization calls could form some territorial and curiosity triggers this late into the season.
Coyote decoys are not always needed, especially if you want to create a lighter hunting setup, but you may be missing out on a big opportunity. Most coyote hunting sets revolve around some type of opening or field, not a tight cramped space that a coyote would consider cover. Therefore, coyotes can often get held up at the timber line. If you add a level of realism like a thrashing ball of fur, a coyote can be convinced a lot easier that something is happening in the area that justifies the risk of coming out into a field.
Fortunately most prey decoys, a stake with moving and thrashing hair/fur, are light and easy to pack. Bigger coyote decoys can be successful during some parts of the season but are typically heavier and more cumbersome to pack. You can buy electronic coyote calls that come with a predator decoy such as the Foxpro® Hammer Jack to make the call and decoy purchase simple.
Other Needed Gear
Beyond the call and the weapon/weapon accessories, there is gear that help create an ideal hunt.
In most setups, coyotes have the uncanny ability to notice even the slightest movement from the hunter. Besides that, they often come from the direction where you least expect them, meaning you have only a few moments to take the shot. Coyote hunters, especially beginners, will quickly notice the need for a stable rest for the gun. A shooting stick allows a hunter to keep the rifle up, shouldered, and ready to shoot. This allows for faster target acquisition and less movement for the coyote to pick up on.
For most hunters, a simple shooting stick like the Bog Pod Devil Tail suffices for most setups. On the other hand some western landscape hunters prefer an aluminum rail mounted bipod like the Champion Standard Adjustable Aluminum Bipod. While the Bog Pod favors quick sets and standing/sitting positions, the Champion bipod favors uneven terrain and prone/sitting positions.
Predator Hunting Pack
While some coyote hunts are short walks from vehicle access, some properties and scenarios call for more gear. A great predator hunting pack is needed to store your coyote call, ammo, headlamps, flashlights, rangefinder, drags, and extra clothing.
A great predator hunting pack needs to work with you for the hunt, not against you. Coyote hunting creates the need for a pack to be extremely functional, but lightweight and simple. The best packs can hold the minimum amount of gear to keep you from over packing, but they come with additional features like sitting pads, backrests, or a gun holster. For this reason, most day packs work great for coyote hunting but investing in a pack that offers more features is worth the investment.
Coyote Hunting Lights
Most states allow for coyote hunting at night (check your state’s regulations for exact rules). While night vision and thermal scopes have become an extremely popular optic for coyote hunting, a simple predator light is the cheaper option. Most budget friendly predator lights can generate a green or red light that will pick up coyotes at 200 yards or more. Obviously the more expensive the light, the brighter that light is at longer distances.
In the last decade or so coyote and predator hunting has grown in popularity. Whether you‘re a beginner or seasoned coyote hunter, having the right gear in the field is a must. Out of all the coyote hunting gear suggestions above, the biggest consideration comes when deciding what caliber, optics, calls, and sound files you will use. While this blog certainly outlines some great suggestions, trial and error is the best way to figure out exactly what coyote hunting gear you should invest in!