It wasn’t until I started doing a lot of coyote hunting in the winter when the problems started exposing themselves.
For starters I started out using a 243 Winchester using 87 grain bullets for coyote hunting. This was a deadly combo, every shot was a bang flop. It did not matter if I put it up the back side, on the shoulder, face on, you name it, if I hit the coyote with out grazing him, he was dead right there.
The down side to this round was fur damage. The holes in and out were big…really really big! Like fist sized holes. This worked great, I had no problems with it at the time. Coyotes were really mangy and were not worth their fur for skinning. So moving a few years forward the fur started getting better and I started getting more and more into coyote hunting so I bought a nice little 223 to cut down on the fur damage. This worked as planned for a while. I had very little issues but one day I called in a dog, stuck it on its shoulder and sqeezed the trigger. The rifle recoiled and the dog went down. Then she started gaining her senses back stood up and started making an exit. Luckly she was close enough for me to get another round up the back side to finish her off.
Scratching my head while walking up to retrieve the coyote I thought what the heck had happened? I thought everything was good to go when the trigger broke. I get up to her and rolled her over to see what happened and right then and there I experienced my first splash wound. “Splash Wound” for a guy that has never seen it happen is a baffling situation. Basically the bullet blows up before it can penetrate the vitals. It almost sounds impossible right? How can it blow up on the skin and not penetrate? You got me. I know it is the most frustrating thing that I have experienced while coyote hunting.
Now that I hunt coyotes for a living year round, I have a whole new respect for the will to live of this critter. This is a critter that does not want to die easy. When your dealing with a coyote that is killing livestock you do not have time for bullets that splash, or bullets that do not completely pass through the coyote 90 % of the time. A 100% of the time would be even better. The reason I want the bullet to pass through the coyote is to ensure that I have a blood trail for myself and my dogs to follow.
I am sure I am going to offend some people when I say this. If you use the common Vmax/ballistic tip/Amax type bullets ect… type bullets in the 22 and smaller calibers you will have problems. It is not “if”, it is a matter of “when” you will have problems. Now I am not saying that you cannot kill a coyote with the smaller calibers. But if you do go down this road look into bullets that were designed for whitetail or hog hunting. These bullets are built to hold together and penetrate the larger animals. The varmint bullets were built for varmints. Prairie dogs and woodchucks in particular. These animals are way smaller and more fragile then any coyote you will ever come across.
So what is the solution? For starters what I did is went back to a larger caliber rifle shooting a heaver bullet. My personal opinion is coyote rifles should start off by launching a minimum of a 6mm 80 grain or larger projectile. Me personally, I even went to a larger rifle then a 6mm. I went to a 6.5 mm to take advantage of the high Ballistic Coefficient bullets that are available in the 6.5 caliber. If I were looking at a short to long range coyote rifle that could be dropped into the ever growing AR-15 platform it would have to be the 6.5 Grendel. I went even larger then the Grendel and instead I am building a 6.5 Creedmoor on a Aero Precision SR-25 platform. Overkill? Yes. But windy conditions and 100% pass though will no longer be and issue.
In conclusion, I want you to think really long and hard if small light weight bullets are really the best answer for your coyote hunting needs. Trust me, I hate stitching a hide more then anyone. But the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you have a bullet splash or you watch a coyote fold, lay there for 5 minutes not moving then get up and leave with no blood trail is way more frustrating then any time spent patching a hole. This has happened to me once and to a friend twice.
So I hope you all pile up and kill every coyote that you call in this year!
Please feel free to contact me any time at Dustin_Drews@yahoo.com