Whether you're looking for an excuse to get back outdoors after deer season is over or predator control is a crucial part of your wildlife management program, hunting coyotes is an experience unlike any other. However, finding the right coyote-hunting gear can be a bit overwhelming.
Hunters have a tendency to go overboard with gear. When I first started coyote hunting, I had no idea where to begin my gear search, which ultimately led to buying some necessary products along with plenty of not-so necessary ones. Over the years and after a lot of hunts, I've developed a tailored gear list of what every hunter needs to take down coyotes. Here's everything I'd recommend bringing into the woods to hunt one of nature's most infamous predators.
Guns and Ammo
For starters, this list won't dive into which specific weapons and ammo options to use on your next coyote hunt. Several factors can influence these decisions, and it's best to go with whatever you're most comfortable using and can make the most ethical shots with. I personally have found success using a .22-250 Remington, due to its incredible velocity and lethal range.
With that, I know fellow hunters that use everything from a lever-action Henry .17 HMR to a 12 gauge with 3-inch shells for those close quarter shots in heavy cover. I would suggest hitting the range before your next hunt and figuring out which gun you find most comfortable, and which caliber will provide the most effective shots for your specific needs.
Having high-quality optics is crucial to success, regardless of which game animal you're pursuing—but it's especially true with coyote hunting. Coyotes are quick and stealthy predators, and you'll likely have a narrow window to get off a clean shot. For this reason, optics are without a doubt the most important piece of gear that I bring with me on my hunts.
Not all rifle-scopes are created equal, and you'll want to select your optics based on what kind of terrain you're hunting, as well as the conditions that your hunt will take place in. Given the variability, I like to have a few different options to choose from.
Day Hunt: ATN X-Sight 5 Pro 3-15X
This is perhaps the most advanced, tech-oriented, non-thermal sight on the market today. This rifle scope features an Ultra HD sensor for resolution, industry leading clarity, bluetooth/Wi-Fi capabilities, Advanced Ballistic Calculator, a Smart Mil Dot Reticle, Night Vision Mode and even Dual Stream Video. Typically, with tech-oriented optics, hunters have to compromise clarity and even accuracy to some degree. With the ATN X-Sight 5 Pro, there is no compromising.
Thermal Option: ATN THOR 5 320 3-12X
Wide Open Spaces spoke with ATN Pro Staffer Kevin Rought, who said using thermal optics has "absolutely" made a difference in his hunts. "The advantage of seeing heat signatures [with the ATN THOR 5] when pursuing pressured animals is crucial," Rought explains. "You're able to see more of what is out there with thermal than you can with standard night vision."
The THOR 5 is in a league of its own when it comes to thermal optics. Its easy-to-mount system is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other options on the market and has features that take all of the guess-work out of getting sighted in. The THOR 5 also features ATN's Advanced Ballistic Calculator, Smart Mil Dot Reticle, as well as their Recoil Activated Video that sends directly to the SD card.
With the THOR 5 thermal optic, you'll be able to choose from a Black Hot Mode, Color and White Hot, giving you a bit more personalization based on your preferences. One of the most impressive things about this scope is just how long the battery life lasts. Thermal optics are notorious for burning up energy quickly, but the THOR 5 boasts an impressive extended battery life. When ATN says these scopes are "the future of optics," they aren't kidding.
Like most predators, coyotes rely heavily on their keen senses to locate prey and to avoid dangerous threats. There seems to be this misconception around coyotes that they have poor vision due to not being able to see the entire color spectrum. While it's true that their eyes don't pick up all colors, a coyote's eyes consist almost entirely of rods, allowing them to detect even the slightest movement—especially in low light situations, when we're most often hunting them. With that in mind, it's crucial to wear camouflage that will break up your pattern.
I like to choose darker pieces with an abundance of micro-patterns that allow me to stay undetected in areas of heavy brush. Depending on what time of year you're hunting coyotes, you can add some heavier greens to blend into the landscape. When I'm hunting in the late winter, I prefer the Optifade Timber pattern by Sitka. The closer I get to spring when the "green-up" happens, I switch over to Sitka's Optifade Subalpine pattern.
Your calls are going to play a huge role in how well you can deceive a coyote to come within shooting range. Tricking a coyote requires setting up a seemingly natural scene that a pack can't resist. The most important part of that scene is having the right sounds. These audio cues are what is going to draw the coyotes in initially, and will also help get them to stay there while you set your sights on the target.
There are few different calling options that coyote hunters live by. Common calls that you'll often find in an avid predator hunter's pack are hand calls, mouth calls and of course, e-callers. In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in the popularity of e-callers, as their sounds have become more realistic, and they allow hunters to limit their movement and stay ready to make the shot.
I simply love the FOXPRO Hammerjack 2. This unit comes with two far-reaching speakers: one for coyote and distress calls, the other designed for lower frequency sounds. With this unit comes 100+ sounds that are incredibly realistic. One of the most appealing features of this call is its "Fuzzy Wuzzy Topper." When a coyote comes to investigate the sound, you can employ this waving and thrashing decoy, designed to mimic dying prey that will entice any coyote to come charging in for an easy snack. The Hammerjack 2 currently retails at $384.95.
Too many times I have been in the woods on a predator hunt and a sense of overwhelming fear runs over me: I forgot something. (Usually something essential.) Predator hunters specifically like to develop a "minimalist" approach, and only take the bare essentials with them into the field. In my experience, this often backfires—and the one piece of gear needed to make a hunt successful was left at home or in the truck.
After making this mistake countless times, I decided I would invest in a quality pack that would be designated specifically for coyote hunting. Carrying a pack ensures I'm always prepared for the ever-changing conditions faced during coyote hunting.
The Alps OutdoorZ Enforcer Predator Pack was designed specifically with coyote hunters in mind. It has a removable, kickstand frame seat, which allows you to comfortably sit anywhere in the woods, along with adjustable, quick-locking legs for when you have to move positions in a hurry. It also has a large front section to carry all of your e-calls, rangefinders, binoculars, and more. With 12 centerfire shell holders and 6 shotgun shell holders, you'll be able to reload without digging around to find ammo. This pack currently retails at $199.99, and I personally never head into the woods without it.
Having a reliable rangefinder can often be overlooked as a necessary piece of gear, but they shouldn't be. While advancements in rifle scopes have made hunters more accurate, it's still crucial that you know your range. Having said that, coyotes are constantly on the move, and will only sit still for just enough time to get your shot off. Because of this, as soon as I set up in a good location, I like to pick out a few landmarks where I feel a coyote could come in at, and range them. These landmarks could be a bush, a clump of grass, or even a tree. All that matters is that you get a good gauge of where your distances are.
The ATN LaserBallistics 1500 is one of the most accurate and reliable rangefinders that I have ever used. One of my favorite features of this rangefinder is that it can use bluetooth to pair with your ATN Smart HD Scope and instantly tell you point of impact corrections, ensuring that you make the perfect shot, without wasting time making the mental calculations yourself. This rangefinder currently retails at $349.00, which is a great price point considering it's competitive with other models on the market that don't have bluetooth capabilities.
Accuracy is the name of the game when coyote hunting, as your shot window will be relatively small due to their quick movements and constant running. When a coyote steps into range, and the adrenaline is at an all time high, getting off a clean shot can be tough without the proper setup, and free-handing is a risky option. Utilizing a tripod has increased my success over the years tremendously, and now it has become a crucial piece of gear on all of my hunts.
The DeathGrip Aluminum Tripod by BOG is the most consistent and stable gun rest on the market. The patented clamp allows me to lock in my firearm as soon as my hunt starts, and allows me to call and use my binoculars, all while knowing my rifle is ready to go. The DeathGrip retails at $169.99, and it should be a part of every predator hunter's gear list.
Coyote hunting has risen in popularity greatly in the past few years, and it's easy to see why. Predator hunting brings a certain level of intensity that is unmatched, and it's an incredible way to practice good land management as well. Still, a predator hunter is only as good as his gear—so use this list to decide what to bring in the field, and you'll be in for one of the most fun and rewarding hunts out there. Good luck!