While a rifle is the go-to method for coyote hunting, there’s more than one way to get the job done. In fact, some of the less popular coyote hunting methods, such as shotgun hunting can provide some real benefits.
This is especially true if you’re hunting coyotes with the hope of keeping the pelts in good condition in order to sell them later, because shotguns do less damage to pelts, or if you’re hunting an area with thick cover.
But, how do you go about it? And what shotgun loads are best for predator hunting? We’re going to give you some recommended coyote shotgun loads, and the details on creating a beginner coyote shotgun hunting setup.
Best shotgun load for coyotes
Most shotgun coyote hunters favor 00 shot, but #4 buckshot is also a popular choice. The best shot size for coyotes is a bit of an opinion based deal, and left up to the personal preference of the hunter. Honestly, both of these are solid choices and will produce great patterns for you.
Just make sure that you match your chosen load to your hunting setup, and that you test it out before you get in the field! A well prepared hunter is a successful hunter, and even the best gear will give disappointing results if you don’t understand how to best utilize it. But what gear do you need for your shotgun hunting setup? We’ll cover that in the next section!
Coyote Shotgun Hunting Setup Guide
While having the right shotgun loads is important, there are a couple of other things which are more important. For starters, you need a good coyote choke which can help you tighten up your shot pattern.
Though, a choke is not a magic bullet. You do still need to spend a little time adjusting your coyote shotgun hunting setup in order to get things just right. You’re looking to get a good pattern within an 8-10 inch area, at around 30 yards. This helps you to make sure that you’re hitting a vital area and taking down the animal within a reasonable range.
If you’re not familiar with choke tubes, they restrict the shot at the muzzle before it exits the barrel. When combined with a well designed shot wad, this tube helps the shot develop a more ideal pattern during its flight. Carlson’s coyote tube is a popular choice, and it’s capable of throwing fatal large shot patterns up to 70 yards.
BUT, is that an ethical shot to take? For many hunters, the answer is no. While the manufacturer may say that you can target a coyote at 70, or more yards, the reality is the shot will be more than iffy. A 50 yard range is far more reasonable, and you can be more confident in your shot within this distance. That is, if you get close enough.
If you’ve ever hunted coyotes before, then you know how easily spooked they are. So, how do you get the coyotes to actually come in close enough for you to blast them with your shotgun? Tad Brown of Flambeau says that distraction is the answer.
“The decoy isn’t just an attraction. It’s a distraction, too, that keeps the coyote’s eyes off me,” says Brown about his coyote decoy setup.https://www.fieldandstream.com/why-shotguns-are-better-rifles-coyote-hunting/ He favors putting his caller and decoy about 80 yards crosswind of his stand. The setup is designed to bring the cautious coyotes into brown’s lap, where they quickly meet their end.
This is where using a good electronic predator call over a mouth call has its advantageous. Coyotes are very good at pinpointing sounds, and they will know exactly where you are. Using an electronic call to call from somewhere that you’re not; confuses the coyotes, giving you a much better opportunity at landing a closer range shot, which you need with a shotgun.
But where should you aim when the coyote gets close to you? Much like traditional coyote shot placement, the chest is a great place to aim, but if you need to take a broad shot rather than a front facing one you can also aim directly behind the shoulder.
What shotgun for coyote hunting?
If you’ve already got a turkey gun, then this is likely a good bet for hunting coyotes as well. Though some Pros recommend against pump style guns, because it makes it difficult to perform follow up shots, which you will likely need. Therefore, a semi-auto variety, like the Remington 11-87, is more desirable when hunting coyotes, though it’s not impossible to make nearly any shotgun work for the task.
What about optics?
Much like duck hunting, scopes are not desired for shotgun coyote hunting. Target acquisition takes too long this way, and for that reason, shotgun hunters will typically either focus on the bead, or if they prefer a sight, they would be more likely to go with a red dot. Red dots are quick to acquire, and as long as the dot is on the dog, you can fire.
Whether or not you need a sight is up to you though. Some people prefer not to use them, but others love the improved accuracy which they get with a good red dot. However, you can also get yourself a rangefinder to help you judge distance and deliver more accurate shots if you’d prefer to hunt without using a red dot or scope on your gun.
In closing, you likely already have what you need to get started with shotgun coyote hunting. Or, at the very least, making a few minor adjustments to your existing turkey hunting setups can get you most of the way there! Good luck, and happy hunting.