You’ve been coaxing him in now with the squalls of a dying rabbit. Sitting patiently and waiting, watching as that crafty coyote carefully works his way in. Cautiously he continues towards you until…he presents that perfect 100 yard broad side shot. He stands still for only a moment. You know the shot must come quickly, and cleanly for an ethical kill. But where do you hold for that to happen on a coyote?
Most coyote hunters in the world grew up with some sort of big game hunting in their lives. As little children we watched and waited for our turn. We learned a lot as we watched Dads and relatives with there big game success, dreaming of our chance to prove ourselves. We all couldn’t wait for the seasons to start. Through all of this, we largely received our knowledge of hunting from parents and good friends. How to move on a stalk, how to pick our spot, the weapon we choose, clothing, boots, bows, and ammo. One of the big items we learn about is the “Ethical Kill Shot”. All responsible Sportsman strive for the quick, clean, ethical kill shot. Some of us play scenarios in our minds to practice the when and where of shot placement. Most likely, we all have a memory or two of the first time our Dad, or maybe a Hunter’s Safety instructor, showed us a picture of a big game animal and said…”Okay, now where do you shoot this animal for an ethical shot?” Most of us grew up being taught that the “Sweet Spot” was right behind that front shoulder. Or, as my Dad always said, “Right in the boiler factory”. This holds true for most any big game animal. But, does it hold true when you’re after a coyote?
Placing a shot behind the shoulder on a coyote will result in a kill shot. However, because of the anatomy of a coyote, it will most likely produce a liver shot. This is an effective kill shot, but it can take the animal a little while to expire. Coyotes differ a little from some big game animals in how they are built. The heart sits further forward in the chest cavity in a coyote than it does in most big game animals. As a result, the best place for a clean kill shot on a coyote is right through the front shoulder.
The heart and lungs are tucked in right behind the shoulder joint on a coyote. Placing the shot through the shoulder joint provides a quick clean kill. If you’re not sure, follow the front leg up to center mass on the coyote. This will put you on target. This shot also provides a fur friendly situation. I prefer a hollow point or polymer tip bullet when hunting predators. This shoulder shot typically results in a small entry hole with no exit. The bullet penetrating the shoulder bones expands rapidly and most often destroys the heart and lungs resulting in a quick death. Certainly this depends on the rifle and round you are shooting. Common calibers for coyotes such as .204, .223, .22250 and .243 with lighter bullets ranging from 30 grains to 60 grains should suffice. Nothing is ever perfect, and exits can still produce large holes in hides when they occur. But when a good clean kill is what you’re after with an ethical shot on a coyote, consider the shoulder the next time you have one in your sights broadside.
For the past 7 years I’ve been going to Colorado to hunt the wild and elusive wapiti. One of the main reasons I choose to return each year is the comradery among everyone there at Elk Camp. It’s a camp full of friends and family. And this year was no different from the rest.
This year I rolled into camp to meet family and my friend Nick. This would be Nick’s first elk hunt and he was chomping at the bit to hit the hills with rifle in hand. He was using a 7mm Rem Mag firing HSM Trophy Gold ammunition loaded with a Berger VLD 168 grain bullet. This combo has proven deadly on elk and I was determined to get him an opportunity over the coming days.
Opening morning found us 6 miles from camp, with the sky flooding with light as we set up looking out over a pond. There were already some cows getting water, so we sat patiently in hopes of seeing a bull.
An hour after sunrise Nick spotted more elk moving up the ravine. “Good bull in the back” he whispered. I knew his heart had to be pounding as the bull stepped into the open. BOOM! The report of the 7 mag rang out in the early morning air. “Good hit” I hissed.
He turned around with a big grin across his face. My knees were shaking and I didn’t even shoot. In that moment I was so excited to be apart of his first elk kill.
We made it down to the bull and I could easily see the excitement, respect and admiration of his first bull. That look everyone has on their first kill is truly something special to see.
Soon we had the bull quartered up and ready to load on the horses, but the day wasn’t over. A cow stepped out across the ridge and with hands still covered in blood I set the crosshairs of the rifle on her and squeezed the trigger. She took a quick tumble and that was it. Cow tag filled!
The rest of the trip was great. Our camp put down 5 bulls and 3 cows. My dad shot his biggest bull to date which I couldn’t have been happier to be there to help him skin it out.
With the end of the season came time to leave Colorado once again and all the wonderful memories that were made. Lord willing we’ll be back next year to enjoy all the great things of Elk Camp.
– Jay Siske
Many factors contribute to a well-shot trophy photo. Lighting, focus, flash, and many other things can make or break a picture. With todays point and shoot cameras that are easy to use you can still take a great image that will capture that special moment perfectly. Experience is the best tool to have. However, even first-timers can take professional photos if they follow a few practical tips:
Take lots of pictures. The more pictures you take the better the chance that one will be exactly what you want. Look at the framing and check shots afterwards to make sure you captured what you wanted to. And not only posed shots, try taking photos from high and low angles as well as different focal lengths. So keep your finger on the shutter-button and be ready for whatever happens.
Respect the animal. At the end of the hunt, you may feel a great deal of accomplishment to have bagged your prize, but stay classy. Don’t straddle your animal. Keep your pictures dignified, eliminating as much blood as possible. If the animal’s tongue is visible, conceal it. One easy thing to pack in your bag to help with this is a micro fiber cloth and some water, it goes a long way to help clean up blood. You would be surprised at what a difference these minor details can make.
Be mindful of the background. If the background is too busy, it could distract from the animal. The sky is usually your best option for good contrast between the animal and the backdrop. Also, let the background reflect the hunt. If you killed an animal in a forest, don’t take your picture in a field. The terrain can tell a lot about your pursuit and story. However don’t let the background reveal your hunting spot, be mindful of land marks that will tell other hunters where to go.
Enhance your trophy’s features. Always play up your advantages. If your deer has tall tines, take profile shots of the side to show off those tines. A photo head-on may not show this as well. Everyone wants to see the best parts of your trophy, so be sure and show them clearly. Make sure all the tines are visible so as to enhance your trophy.
Take care with your firearms. Of course you may want to show the firearms that you killed the animal with. Displaying your weapon is fine. But keep safety in mind at all times. A great photo could be ruined simply because a gun is situated in a dangerous position. Even if nothing happens at the moment, the picture will always portray a juvenile lack of awareness.
Anyone can take a great picture if they remember these tips. You want a picture that best displays the memory of the hunt and your success. With just a few adjustments, you can take a picture that will retain every moment of an eventful and memorable hunt. Share with us your success stories on the HSM Facebook wall as well as look for upcoming photo contests on the Facebook Page.