Coyotes are giving me good hunting practice

This time of year, I usually get out either to the backyard range or to the county shooting range to practice with my hunting rifles. But this year, I’m getting practical practice.

I spend a lot of time at the shooting range throughout the year, but my range time always ramps up considerably when September rolls around. I already have all my rifles sighted in by now, so I use this time before the rifle seasons start to practice. I shoot from various positions, and I shoot wearing the gear I will be wearing when I go hunting. That way, I’m ready for any kind of shot, whether I’m nestled in behind a downed log and have a solid rest, or have to take a standing shot using my shooting sticks. I also know if any of the equipment I have is going to get in the way, so I have time to make adjustments before I have that problem out in the field with a monster buck facing me down.

But this year, my practice is less focused on pulling the trigger and tightening my groups than it is testing my skills at stalking and remaining invisible. We still have a coyote problem in our area, and I’m practicing my sneaking skills while I try to thin out the coyote population.

Those coyotes are either extremely hungry or incredibly bold. They’re still pretty sneaky, though. They start showing up a little while before dusk, and they’ve been arriving in groups. If it were just one coyote wandering through, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but we’ve had groups of up to five at a time coming in and chasing our horses and harassing the neighbor’s calves. They actually killed one of his calves a few weeks ago.

So now I get to practice my hunting skills for real. Hopefully, one of these nights, I’ll get to take a shot, and I’ll see if I’m still practiced up on the shooting side of things. But first, I have to get better at the sneakiness. Those coyotes have shown me I still have some wrinkles I need to iron out in that department.

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