It’s a cold and dreary day. A brisk wind blasts across your face, so the 32-degree temperature feels more like 20. Snow covers the field in front of you and makes the brown dot darting through the brush unmistakable. A coyote has fallen for your call.
He’s coming in fast. Settling down into the rifle, you take aim through your scope. A perfect shot must be placed; he will not offer a second chance. A hard-hitting, flat-shooting bullet is needed to get the job done.
What’s the best ammunition to turn to for coyotes in this situation?
Predator hunting is a tough task. You must outsmart creatures whose natural instincts are to be as “sly as a fox.” Predators (coyotes, bobcats and fox) are naturally wary, and getting them to fall for a distressed animal call is not easy.
When the opportunity does present itself, more often than not you’re dealing with animals that come in fast and won’t stick around if you miss, leaving you little time to prepare. This is when you need complete confidence that your ammunition will hit your target and finish the job.
With the varied shooting distances you’ll encounter predator hunting, and with little time to determine the precise holdover in your scope, you’ll need a cartridge that has a flat trajectory.
Does this sound like a foreign language to you?
There are a lot of terms used for shooting and hunting that often leave newbies scratching their heads. Here are some important terms to understand when picking predator ammunition.
Understanding Bullet Talk
Group size is used to describe the accuracy of a firearm. When sighting in your rifle, your group size (the term used to refer to a group of holes on the target, which have been fired as a series of three or five consecutive shots) is calculated by measuring the distance (center to center) between the two widest shots in your group. Long story short, if your group of fired shots is clustering within one inch of each other at 100 yards, you’re shooting a good rifle and ammunition combo.
MOA (minute of angle) is an angle of measurement. A minute of angle is 1/60th of a degree. This means that 1 MOA covers an area of roughly 1 inch at 100 yards (the actual measurement is 1.047 inches at 100 yards). At longer distances, 1 MOA covers a larger area — 3 inches at 300 yards; 8 inches at 800 yards, yet it is still just 1 MOA. So, when you hear shooters talking about predator rifles that shoot sub-MOA groups, they’re referring to rifles that consistently group three to five shots under 1 inch at 100 yards.
Trajectory is the path your bullet takes when it leaves the rifle barrel. Bullets don’t travel in a flat, straight line. Instead, they make an arc, starting low, rising in the middle, and eventually falling to hit your target.
The term “flat shooting” is often heard when discussing ammunition. No ammunition will ever shoot exactly “flat,” but the smaller the arc, the better for hunting predators. This is because predators move in fast and you want a bullet that is going to hit your target without having to recalculate where to aim with your scope.
Caliber is the diameter of the rifle bore as measured between the grooves in the rifling, which impart spin to the bullet. It also refers to the diameter of the bullet being used. Calibers like the .223 or .22-250 are ideal for predators when loaded with the proper bullets.
Bullets are the projectiles actually fired from the rifle. Choosing the right bullet is important for hunting any game, and predators are no exception. You want a bullet that won’t do too much damage to the pelt, but you want it to expand and fragment after penetration so the animal is killed quickly. Remember what I said: Predators won’t give you a second shot. You need to get the job done the first time with a well-placed, ethical shot.