It’s been a long time since I’ve hunted with my old coyote hunting partner Ron. I miss it not only for the laughs we shared, but for his backup abilities. He’s deadly on running shots. If two or more coyotes arrived on a setup, it’s almost guaranteed he’d make the running shot to roll the second — or even third coyote.
A pair showed up below us one morning and fortunately the coyote on my side stopped first. I was in sissy mode lying prone and shooting off my bipod. That coyote dropped on the spot. The shot set the second coyote off like a Mars-bound rocket. Within a count of three Ron’s rifle snapped and I saw the second coyote screech to a halt from a deadly aim.
I’m not an advocate of running shots and rarely take one on big game. I sing a different song when it comes to predator management, but I take running shots whenever the opportunity looks worthy to end a coyote’s game-munching days. If multiple coyotes crash your calling party you’d better sharpen your eye to make the most of a good thing. As the grass greens and predator opportunities slip away for a few months, it’s a great time to not only sharpen shooting skills like the running shot, but test new products at the range for possible inclusion next fur season.
Making successful running shots isn’t based on mathematical equations like shooting long-range targets from a solid rest. Trajectory, velocity and coyote speed all come into play, but that means little in the precious seconds you have while aiming at the furry backside of a fleeing coyote. When the time arrives, making running shots depends more on using “the force” than computing bullet performance characteristics. You simply won’t have time to input the data into your smartphone and have it regurgitate the proper lead. Wile E. will be long gone by then.
There are two basic schools to follow when trying to make a shot on running game. You can either swing through them as you would while hunting flushing game with a shotgun or match the speed of the coyote and follow along pulling the trigger when the lead looks correct.
Swing through them requires importance in having a steady follow-through because when your crosshairs get up to the shoulder or head, you want your gun to go off while it’s still swinging. When matching the speed of the coyote, you are shooting out in front of the target with a guess where the coyote will be when the bullet arrives, which works for some. Only practice will reveal which method works for you.
A handful of old tires doctored with plywood in the center can do wonders for running game shots when rolled down an incline. Stick a Cabela’s Clear Shot target in the center for easy identification if you’ve accomplished your goal. Choose a safe shooting backdrop and have a buddy begin rolling a tire down a grade. Make sure the tire wrangler has a safe hideout before you let lead fly. I’ve found myself leaning more to the shotgun-style, which I believe it comes from growing up in pheasant country and swinging through flushing roosters. That doesn’t mean I’m good at hitting running coyotes so I guess I better doctor some tires. I’m playing with some new Hornady loads with my Bergara B-14 and hitting a rolling Goodyear is as important as dinging a 400-yard silhouette.