• Midwest Fox and Coyote Hunting

    Practice at the rifle range leads to successful long shot varmint hunting.  Factory orange & white test targets.It is not uncommon when visiting an outdoor shooting range during the fall to find an extensive variety of firearms being shot. From rimfires to centerfires and black powder muzzleloaders to black powder cartridge rifles, many shooters sighting-in the newest shotgun slugs or sabots checking targets with a spotting scope then making sight adjustments.

    This traditional sighting in of rifles could include a small caliber center fire for the coming varmint seasons. Varmint hunters are very fortunate today with the combination of accessories which make up a varmint rifle. This mix of technology with the right rifle can lead into an exceptional long range shooter.

    Camouflage clothing and matching camouflage rifles come in both fall or winter color patterns from numerously manufacturers. The additional of another forearm stud makes it possible for both a sling and a Harris Engineering Bipod.

    Leupold’s Varmint Hunter’s Reticle scopes have become a necessity for long shots. This fine sight has 10 to 20 mph windage cross wire hairs with hold points. Simply sight in at 200 yards as zero and follow steps of fine hairs for 300, 400, 500 yards.

    Another light gathering feature is larger 30mm diameter scope tubes compared to traditional 1” inch bodies. This increase to 30mm body diameters is becoming a common option for most brands of optics. Leupolds Xtended Twilight system is exceptional allowing shots to be made under low light conditions.

    Originally developed for the military, Barnes Varmint Grenade bullets have proven to be very accurate. More importantly these bullets remove the worry of ricochets since the bullet literally explodes or grenades on impact. Barnes has a web-site video of a Varmint Grenade exploding from hitting a seedless grape. Seems impossible but it is not!

    The author's trio of Savage
Varmint RiflesThe jacketed bullet has a hollow point and cavity with a core of copper and tin which fragments on impact. Expending its energy early, the Varmint Grenade seldom exits large predators like bobcats and coyotes, leaving valuable pelts virtually undamaged.

    When attempting to choose one factor in this industry which has been the cause of more accurate shots being made it has to be trigger pull, creep & crepe release improvements.

    The weight of a trigger pull is important but even more critical is the crispness of how clean the sear precisely disengages firing the rifle. This trigger elimination of excessive travel or creep helps to prohibit a tendency to flinch or jerk at the instant the sear is released. I have fired rifles that always provided a surprise when they did fire!

    Uncountable shooters since 2002 are thanking Savage Arms for literally changing the rifle industry’s thinking with their AccuTrigger. The adjustable Savage trigger has become a standard feature on most Savage center fire and rim fire rifles.

    Other market competing rifle companies today have remedied or are working to improve their triggers. Several after market upgrade adjustable triggers from many companies are available for a number of bolt actions built prior to the revised models of today.

    Much has changed not only in the tools of varmint hunting but how landscapes were altered through the decade of mans ever expanding nature. In most Midwest states there are abundant populations of both fox and more notably coyotes in both rural and urban regions.

    Coyotes have become very bold, frequenting backyards in housing developments in search of easy prey. Bird feeders have become communal foraging stations not only for songbirds but grouse, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and even mice! With all these groceries coyote & fox target these zones frequently.

    Three of the author's preferred
varmint bulletsMid-West Coyotes

    Wisconsin DNR field study shows rabbits comprised 21% of their diet, mice and other mammals made up 18%, and plants about 12 % of the total diet. In a similar study in northwestern Wisconsin, coyote winter diets were composed of 35% deer carrion, 19% small rodents, 6% snowshoe hares, 26% other mammals, 4% birds, and 5% vegetation.

    A hot spot for numbers of coyotes in central Wisconsin is Wood, Jackson, Clark and Taylor county’s. Wood counties marsh and cranberry bogs and surrounding terrain provide good hunting opportunities.

    In Illinois north of Chicago along lake Michigan joggers have reported many sightings of coyotes. Chicago’s Cook County has determined there are 2,000 animals in their vicinity!

    One Illinois city police web-site literally had me laughing out load when it stated: “Removing the single animal that may have attacked a pet or human can send a message to the other coyotes in the area to fear the human.” What? Pets are a common prey in urban areas and trapping a single animal will not have any affect. Coyotes naturally are fearful of man hunted or not. Trapping a single animal will only remove one predator with several taking advantage of less competition for available food.

    Keeping an estimated total population of coyotes is a close to impossible task. In Indiana they are estimated at 20,000? Coyotes are beneficial in helping to control rodent levels. On the other hand they kill a great deal of game.

    In Minnesota roughly 4,000 coyotes are taken yearly from hunters and trappers combined. This is a small number compared to the states actual population. Coyotes are found throughout the state. They are increasing in southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities area. It is interesting, a Minnesota DNR study has revealed many coyotes eat porcupines. Coyotes flip them onto their backs and make a grab for their throat.

    When scouting a possible hunting area ask first. It is common practice to visit the county municipal building wherever you are and locate a Plat Book with rural land owner information. Most farmers are glad to see someone making the effort to hunt both coyotes and fox.

    When you find good populations of coyotes it can mean low numbers of fox. Competition for food with these two predators can be life or death for the fox! If given the change an adult coyote will kill a fox.

    Be wise on the rifle cartridge chosen for the area to be hunted. The report or bang from a .223 Rem is considerably less than that of a 22-250 or 220 Swift.

    My pair of Savage rifles featured in this article, a Model 12 BTCSS Varmint Series Thumbhole & Model 25 Lightweight Varminter, are both chambered for .223 Remington. The Model 12 has a Harris Bipod for steady shooting. The stainless model 12 is heavier by approximately 2 lbs over the mod 25’s lighter barrel & action rifle.

    Keeping the scope mounted as close as possible to the bore is one of the keys to building an accurate rifle.Both rifles free floated barrels can easily shoot sub 1” inch 100 yard groups with Federal Premium factory loads. With 1 in 9 twist barrels bullet weights of 50 grains and heavier are best.

    The 223 or 5.56 military cartridge is responsible for many a coyote taken out to even 500 yards. Both rifles have Leopold 30mm VX-3 Long Range 4.5-14X50mm Varmint reticle scopes. These Made In America Leupold scopes come with a Life Time guarantee.

    Sun shades as a scope accessory help when hunting under bright sunny days especially over snow covered fields. Sun shades assist with removing glare from the objective lens and cross hair picture.

    Higher scope magnification is not necessary over 12 to 14 power. Trying to use higher powers than this can make shooting accurately difficult on sunny days. The mirage becomes too visible at high power making long shots more than just a challenge.

    The future of hunting is in our youth. So pass your knowledge on to the next generation whenever possible. Be safe!

    Submitted by Todd Koehn

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