Whitetails may be king with wild turkeys a close second, but the enjoyment of hunting predators should never be understated. Coyotes, foxes, and bobcats are North America’s most abundant terrestrial predators. These species play key roles in the ecosystem, helping to manage rodent populations, scavenging carrion, and preying on larger animals that may be sick or weak. They are cunning and adaptable. They are also a scourge on popular wildlife such as deer fawns and livestock during the berthing season. Predators are the ultimate prey. By hunting them, you’ll be helping the environment and local wildlife, while honing your shooting skills. Typically, just about any setup would get the job the done. After all, we are talking about medium to small game. However, there is such a thing as too much gun.
Coyotes, in particular, have undergone significant changes relative to range, behavior and physiology in just a short period of time. Once relegated to the American West, coyotes have expanded their range to include most of the North American continent over the past 100 years or so. Such expansion has been linked to human development and the resultant extirpation of larger predators like gray wolves, black bears and cougars.
Here are five top choices for your next predator gun.
Savage Model 25 Walking Varminter in .17 Hornet
Taking it down a notch from the .22 Hornet, the .17 Hornet pushes a 20-grain Hornady V-Max bullet at a screaming 3,600 fps. Equipped with the Savage Accu-Trigger and a polymer detachable magazine, the Model 25 Walking Varminter is seriously accurate, with non-existent recoil in this caliber. It is perfect for predators and ideal for introducing a new shooter.
Remington Model 700BDL in .22-250 Remington
The .22-250 grew out of the Wildcat arena and found a home when Remington introduced it in the iconic Remington 700. A Model 700 is a must have for every shooter and you could do a lot worse than the flat-shooting .22-250 cartridge. The Model 700BDL features a quick lock time making the pairing of the 700 and .22-250 a combination worthy of hair-splitting accuracy. Sighted in at 250 yards, you could use a single hold from zero to 400 yards. Look to the 50-, 52- and 55-grain bullets for optimum performance from the 24” barrel.
Ruger Hawkeye Varmint Target in .204 Ruger
I have had the opportunity to test several firearms and found a home a home for more than a few. There are only two that keep me up at night wishing I had never sent them back. One is the Ruger Hawkeye. The Varmint Target model has a target-style laminate wood stock, two-stage trigger, integral scope mounts and rings. The 26” target-gray barrel delivers every last bit of velocity from the .204. When I first tested Federal’s TNT Green loads from a Ruger Hawkeye, I dropped to young dogs at 400 yards. That’s stretching the capabilities of the load, but with this combination, you do not have to limit yourself do to the caliber or gun.
Winchester Model 70 Coyote Light, in .243 Win.
Winchester’s Model 70 is an all time classic. The long storied history places emphasis on the pre ’64 models, but if you’re looking to line song dogs up in your sight, you’d be hard pressed to beat the Coyote Light. Featuring a Bell & Carlson synthetic stock, Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, MOA trigger, and a 24” fluted barrel, the Model 70 Coyote Light is the stuff that fills a predator’s nightmare.
Chambered in the .243 Winchester, the Model 70 Coyote Light offers an advantage when crosswinds come into play. Bullet weights range from the 55 grains on the light end of the specialty loads through the big game 100- and 105-grain offerings.
Browning A-Bolt II Target/Varmint Suppressor Ready in 6.5 Creedmoor
For 2017, the 6.5 Creedmoor was certainly the hot caliber. Matched with Browning’s A-Bolt II Target/Varmint Suppressor Ready and you’ll have a predator gun that is more than capable of serving double duty during whitetail season or across the prairies when hunting mule deer.
The Browning A-Bolt II Target/Varmint Suppressor Ready Put is an easy-to-handle 20” barreled package, featuring a synthetic Mossy Oak camo stock. The 60-degree bolt throw makes getting back on target quickly for a follow-up shot or to drop that second coyote that posted up possible.
Anything in the 100-grain range will be an advantage by offering a flatter trajectory and plenty of punch on a wily ‘ol coyote that is too weary for a bonsai run. The barrel is also threaded in case you live in an area where suppressors are legal.
These are just a few of the great new caliber and rifle combinations on the market. Where you hunt, how and your personal shooting abilities will all play a factor in which you choose. You’ll also want to look into other gear such as lights for night hunting, calls, camo, and most importantly, a quality optic.
What is your favorite predator gun? What about caliber? Share your answers in the comment section.