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From The Readers: Night hunting in West Texas

My hunting buddy Robert Shelton and I started hunting together years ago. We have enjoyed countless hours pursuing ole Canis latrans and I must admit that it is our favorite endeavor, second only to our elk hunting in Montana and Wyoming.

The photo of the truck full of coyotes is from our best hunt to date near the West Texas town of Odessa. On that trip we called and shot a total of 36 coyotes in three nights, hunting with Skeet Jones. Skeet is a varmint hunting legend, having grown up in west Texas and has spent countless hours hunting coyotes and learning the total secrets of success. He is excellent hunter, an accomplished guide and a man who is a delight to be around and hunt with. He is relentless in his efforts and uses only the best calls and techniques to perfect his guiding efforts.

My buddy Robert is a marksman of classic proportion and shoots primarily a custom .22-250, using handloads. I’ve witnessed him shooting a running coyote (illuminated in a spotlight) in the back of the head at 180 yards during the night. My personal favorite is a custom Ruger .243 using an 85-grain boat tail hollow point, loaded with Hodgdon 414. Our favorite night scope is the Swarovski 50 MM in a 4x12 variation, and it does perform very well especially in low-light conditions. We normally position one shooter on the ground with a Benelli 3-inch mag using T shot and one shooter in the high tower with a rifle and 360 degree swivel chair. We have personally killed a coyote out to 42 yards with this particular load, which we consider to be exceptional. Having the ground shooter available is also handy when multiples show up at close range. We have taken as many as four from the ground, at one stand.... while hunting with Skeet in the past.

Skeet uses the Light Force lighting systems, which I consider to be an excellent choice. The 240 Stryker is an awesome light source and is lightweight and easy to use. I have personally been using one of these for years.

The coyote is a different customer at night, and can be readily called if proper techniques are used. As always, watching downwind is a must, although all coyotes will not come in downwind. Those that don’t pay attention to the wind rarely last long enough to merit mentioning here. More than a fair share will circle and eventually approach downwind before coming close. Coyotes are curious by nature, and highly opportunistic, and may sometimes respond solely out of curiosity. They also respond well in regards to territorial protection, or family hierarchy, especially during mating season. Coyotes also respond well to several basic vocalizations such as the challenge call, female mating and young-pup distress.

When you begin your calling sequence you may get an immediate response and shoot your first coyote within a minute or two. If this occurs, it is best to stay put and just keep calling as you may have the good fortune of multiple kills at the same location. Years ago (1975), while hunting with my good friend and mentor, Pete Tackett, we shot six coyotes at the same stop near the small town of Kaufman, Texas.

The best part of coyote hunting is that there is no season, no bag limits, and the coyote will test all of your hunting skills whether you’re a novice or a seasoned expert. It is one of the smartest, most cunning, and most challenging quarries out there. One of the best books on coyotes that I have seen is the made by Wyman Meinzer, who is a long time west Texas resident of Benjamin. He chronicles the life of the coyote from start to finish and most of his writings are from personal experience, while living on a remote west Texas ranch full time. This is a great reference source.... and well worth the asking price.


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