Choosing a Rifle for Hunting Coyotes at Night
Calling coyotes during nighttime hours is a fantastic opportunity to harvest fur, reduce predator numbers, and it’s just plain fun. Setting up a night hunting coyote rifle, however, takes a little consideration. While utilizing your deer rifle, your daytime plinker, or even an everyday shotgun can be effective for taking coyotes at night, as with any job, having the right tools will make you more efficient and the experience more enjoyable.
There are many considerations to take into account for a coyote hunting rifle setup for calling and shooting coyotes at night. Factors such as calling style, stand setup, mobility, and typical shot distance should be reviewed. Other critical aspects include rifle calibers, rifle style or action type, follow up shots, and accessories, which will all make a difference during the hunt. With a little forethought and planning, you can put together a rifle that is designed to function flawlessly during those night hunts and help you bag more coyotes in the dark.
Night Calling Coyotes Setup Considerations
The concept is simple: attract coyotes with the sound of prey in distress, use darkness and wind as camouflage, locate the target with a powerful light and eye shine, and finally execute the shot. While simple at its core, each of these factors has a thousand or more variables. The hunting terrain, your calling style, and typical environmental factors all play a role in what the right rifle setup looks like for you and your night hunts. Let’s consider the details:
Coyote Calling Terrain Factors
Possibly the most critical factor when it comes to calling coyotes day or night is the terrain. From open grassland prairies, snow covered ag fields, dense woodlots, and steep mountain ridges, the coyote’s versatility makes hunting them in various terrain a real consideration. Coyotes live in all kinds of environments and are experts at using all types of cover to their advantage.
The hunting terrain you plan to pursue nighttime coyotes in will affect your shot distance, your mobility, and possibly even the types of calls you will use. When you are putting together your night calling coyote rifle, consider first the terrain you will be hunting.
Mobility – Getting to and from the calling stand, transport to the area, and the sheer size of the land you’re hunting can make a difference when choosing a nighttime coyote rifle setup.
Transportation – Are you able to drive to or near your calling spot? Farmsteads, private lands, and good road access can influence your hunt. Some hunters have success calling right from the back of a pickup truck (parked and turned off) at night, offering the added flexibility of accessories like tripods and larger e-callers.
Does your hunting area require foot traffic only and packing your gear in? Public lands, wilderness areas, or rugged terrain can make foot traffic the only way to access hunting grounds. This type of hunting makes weight and simplicity a real factor.
Maybe you plan to utilize a four-wheeler or a snow machine to cover country and get on coyotes at night? Backcountry motorized transportation (where legal) can offer hunters the flexibility of effective transportation and access to remote hunting areas at the same time.
Ease of mobility to and from the hunting area and in between stands plays a critical role when it comes to choosing a rifle according to weight, size, caliber, action, and the accessories you choose to include.
Shot Distance – Possibly the leading factor when it comes to choosing a rifle caliber – and maybe even the rifle action type – is shot distance. Maybe your hunting terrain is constricted by wooded creek bottoms and fencerows, which provide shots that are shorter range and suitable to calibers like .204, .223, .17 Hornet, or maybe even .22 magnum.
Is your terrain more open with pasture land or large crop fields, with shots generally inside of 300 yards? Look to varmint calibers like .22-250, .243, 6mm, or maybe even .25-06 to provide the velocity and knockdown power needed at those longer distances.
Finally, maybe you plan on settling in on a solid rest and taking shots at coyotes past 300 yards in the dark? High desert areas of the west and large snow blanketed agricultural fields in the northern plains can make this a reality. Shooters looking to make those shots should consider 6.5 Creedmoor or maybe .308 Winchester for their inherent accuracy and wide array of bullet offerings.
There are other considerations (apart from distance) that play into choosing the right night hunting coyote rifle caliber. Deciding between a bolt-action gun or AR platform can affect your chambering choice. Ammo availability and versatility are also critical deciding factors.
Night Calling Coyote Rifle Accessories
Apart from the rifle and ammunition, accessorizing your nighttime coyote rifle can have a huge influence on the success of your hunt. Factors to consider when it comes to outfitting your rifle are many, but should include effectiveness, durability, weight, and ease of use to name a few.
The most critical accessory for any firearm intended to be used in the dark is the lighting accessory. Whether you choose a handheld or gun mounted light to locate coyotes in the darkness, several factors should come into play:
- versatility in mounting the light to your rifle
- white, red, or green Light
- battery run time
- effective light power and distance
Consider the Coyote Light Pro, a rugged and flexible option that is feature-rich and versatile. The Pro comes in white, red, or green LED light with up to 48 hours of continuous run time. Flexible in its ability to mount to your rifle, to a monopod, or to be used handheld, the Coyote Light Pro is perfect ran solo on run and gun mobile hunts, or in tandem with hunts that offer ease of access and more flexibility. The Coyote Light Pro provides ample power with its solid state LED, lighting up targets and locating eye shine out past 1,000 yards. Working in tandem with a quality light gathering rifle optic, the Coyote Light Pro is a critical accessory to getting you on target.
Choosing a Night Hunting Coyote Rifle
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing a rifle for calling coyotes during daylight or nighttime hours. However, by identifying factors like hunting terrain, style, and range, putting together the right components becomes a reality. By choosing an appropriate caliber and action type, paired with the right accessories for your hunt, pursuing coyotes at night can be fun and effective.