What’s the right caliber for coyote hunting?

For a lot of people in Wyoming, cold and snow means one thing: Coyote hunting. But what’s the perfect rifle for hunting ‘yotes?

There are a lot of calibers out there people swear by for coyote hunting. Some like the .22-250 for its flat-shooting, tack-driving capabilities. Once you get your ‘250 sighted in at 200 yards, you can put the crosshairs right where you want the bullet to land just about anywhere from a hundred to three hundred yards. It’s a fairly common round, so you don’t have to take your chances with Ammo Arnie’s Bullets By Mail. And you can find bullets in a good range of weights.

Others prefer the .223, because ammo’s much easier to find on the sporting goods store shelf. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper, too. You can get cartridges in bulk, and one order could last you a year or more, depending on how much you shoot.

Then there are the newer, flashier calibers, like the .17 HMR and the .204 Ruger. There are a lot of guys using those rifles, but unless you’re a real dead-eye, don’t try it. They might look pretty small, but coyotes are tough customers. A bad shot can easily just wound one, and it’ll run for miles if it doesn’t drop immediately. Most of the hard-core coyote hunters I know use at least a .22-caliber center-fire rifle.

So what’s the best caliber for coyotes? Well, what do you shoot most often? If you spend more time hunting and at the range with your .243, use it. Maybe you use your .270 most of the time. If so, take your .270 when you go out after coyotes. Don’t go too crazy, though. No matter how light a .300 Mag round is, it’ll tear up a pelt pretty bad. A .270 is pretty much the top end of what you want to be slinging at ‘yotes.

You want to be able to hit the animal in a place that won’t damage too much of the pelt, if you intend to sell the fur. So you want to be sure the rifle you take is the one you are most accurate with. Also, shooting at coyotes is a good way to practice for shooting at big game, so if you can get some more experience with your antelope or deer gun, you’ll shoot better with it in the fall. Just use a lighter bullet when you use it to hunt coyotes.