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Coyote Hunt with the .25 Cricket

Marley and I packed Jeep and left the house by 3:00am Friday morning to meet Nick in the high desert of Southern California. As we made our turn off the highway onto the long dirt road we were already met by several Jackrabbits running across the road dodging our headlights, Marley was already excited although she had no idea we wouldn’t be after Jackrabbits today. We arrived to our location a bit early to set up the camera gear  etc, where we were soon met by Nick from Nielsen Specialty AmmoNick arrived and the plan was for us to hike in about a mile to an area I had previously scouted and had even taken a Coyote several years ago. This area had many fresh tracks along with several dens that are heavily secluded through the jungle of tall Joshua Trees. The morning was a bit warm and unusually calm as it frequently is very windy here. As we made our way East from the vehicles the sun was just coming up, absolutely stunning area to hunt.

Coyote hunt

Nick and I walked very slowly as we weaved through the thick jungle that can easily be disorienting if not familiar with the area. These Joshua trees are amazingly beautiful and are really the heart of this desert in providing cover for many animals including the Owls that haunt the area at night where they hunt Jackrabbits, Cottontail, Kangaroo field mice as well as other small rodents. Marley and I moved a bit ahead of Nick to video and photograph the hunt for some future video’s.

Nielsen Specialty Ammo

The area I chose for use to make our stand was surrounded by dens and areas where I have seen many Coyotes resting from the sun during the day. Nick set up his caller about 35 yards South of where we were sitting up against several thicker Joshua Trees and small sagebrush. Nick and I decided that a Jackrabbit distress was the most natural prey Coyote’s would encounter here so he set his caller for that at a medium/high volume. As soon as the caller started Marley’s ears perked up that obviously got her attention as an avid hunter herself, very realistic sounding. We all sat up against the thick backdrop of foliage and waited anxiously to spot some movement.

Nielsen Specialty Ammo

Within about 5 minutes a Coyote rushing in from our right, the problem was we had one short 4′ tall Joshua Tree in our line of sight not only from us but from the camera. These Coyote’s don’t stand still for very long, I was manning the camera and unfortunately Nick had no clear shot.

Nielsen Specialty Ammo

The Coyote soon ran off followed by another that I noticed was hiding behind some thick bushes. Wow was my heart pumping, I know Nicks was too because he had that look of excitement. We were both surprised as to how fast the Coyote’s came in as well as how close to us they were. This was Marley’s first Coyote hunt so she was a bit caught off guard seeing we were hunting dogs, not sure what she thought. As Nick and I sat a bit more attentive to another close encounter we continued the caller and within about 15 minutes we spotted another Coyote rush in from our right side, this time stopping just out of my line of sight leaving Nick with a good opportunity.

Nielsen Specialty Ammo

40 yards

Nick took the shot around the 35 to 40 yards with a mil dot hold under releasing a 38 grain HP swaged slug right behind it’s left shoulder. The hit was very solid and you could see the Coyote move its head back trying to bite the impacted area. It took off quick so we waited a few minutes before looking for a blood trail. As we searched the area we only found one small wet spot where the coyote was shot and started walking the direction it took off.  Around 60 or so yards we stopped to see if we could see any blood and then spotted the Coyote laying about 10 yards from us dead as a door nail.

coyote hunt airguns

This was a smaller healthy looking Coyote with a nice coat for this time of year in the super hot desert. This was Nick’s first Coyote taken with a .250 NSA slug, I was very impressed with performance of this ammo as well as his tuned KalibrGun Cricket. These are accurate slugs and a great choice for hunting with .25 cal PCP air rifles.  Swaged from pure lead to give excellent expansion for effective and responsible hunting.  This pellet is sized .250 with a 2S hollow point nose and flat base, 38.0 grains and the KalibrGun Cricket launches them at 880 fps. The gun has a larger plenum and the regulator is set to140 bar. Charlie at Georgia Air Guns sells the plenum that is a major upgrade in power to the rifle.

.250 with a 2S hollow point nose

NSA .250 with a 2S hollow point nose

airgun coyote hunt

After we took several minutes calming down from the excitement, taking some video and photographs we headed back to our stand where we continued to call for another 20 minutes or so before heading back to the vehicles. The trip was a great success already and was very pleased with the experience and footage I gathered sofar. By this time it was approaching 8:00am so we decided to move to a different area to try calling in some more Coyote’s. We tried several different locations with no action at all, by this time it was already getting very hot and the sun was pushing down on us fairly hard. Marley, Nick and I continued for the next few hours and ultimately decided to call it quits as the heat was near unbearable, especially for Marley. This was a great successful hunt and am so glad Nick was able to get out and join me, I learned a little and was just happy to spend time with a friend. Here is a link to a short video I put together and have already planned for a full three day Coyote hunt coming up soon.

 

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Fun and Gun weekend/hunting and shooting

Late Thursday evening I headed out with Marley several hours North into the secluded NF where I had previously scouted a good area to not only hunt, but shoot. My goal was to spend several days hunting and testing some ammo for not only the EVOL .30 but the .308 and .357 Slayers. After arriving close to dark I found a good place where I was meeting my friend Brent and his 20 year old son who were shortly behind me. After a short wait they had arrived and started making camp in our usual fashion along with a nice campfire to take the chill off our bones through the night.


The plan for us to get up early and to each scout several different areas for Cottontail, Jackrabbits and Ground Squirrels where we would meet up later in the day. I started out about a mile down the road where the foliage was just a bit greener along with a bit of water in the nearby creek. By this time it was about 7:00 am so I still had several hours until my friend Nick and his family arrived to a previously scouted area where we would camp, shoot and hunt for a solid 3 days. I decided to park the Jeep in a nice shady spot and take a long hike into the mountains with Marley and the EVOL .30



After a short hike across a creek and up a steep ravine Marley and I decided to take a break in the shade as it was getting fairly hot, we could hear the many birds such as Woodpeckers and Blue jays staying very active. After several minutes I was able to spot several ground squirrels moving about across a huge fallen tree.


I shot at several coming within inches, even close enough to blow one off the log with the shrapnel of splinters from the impact of the 44gr Polymag. After making some wind adjustments I spotted a good size Ground Squirrel poking his head up from behind the fallen log and just to the left of a small nubby branch.


When the wind had that moment of calmness I was able to make a beautiful 130 yard head-shot that blew that squirrel right off his rocker.


It always amazes me how far a shot really is when I have to walk it, was not easy making our way down the steep embankment and up the other side where we made our way to the giant fallen tree. The tree was massive and for some odd reason had what looked to be several doors someone had cut into it.??


Marley and I made our way around the other side and saw several more Ground Squirrel scrambling away through the broken mess of branches. We headed up from the other side and hiked up a hill where we sat in the shade at 90 yards looking down.


After about 10 minutes of patiently waiting Marley and I spotted several more Ground Squirrels moving about, one even stopped right on top.

The 90 yard shot was fairly easy for the .30 monster I was using so I was able to plug him pretty good as he made his way down off the log.



Marley and I made our way down to document our kills and to move to another spot where we would make way back to the tuck.



We continued down into the ravine and followed the creek back towards the Jeep when I spotted several more Ground Squirrels running up a steep embankment.


The Ground Squirrels seemed to all be invading a large tree that had roots that were protruding the ground from erosion. I sat in the shade while Marley played in the creek, trying to cool off from the Summer heat. I was having a difficult time positioning myself for a shot as the area was very off camber and too was forcing me to shoot near vertically. I finally spotted several and ended up killing the larger one on the right offering a bit larger target at 45 yards.



Marley and I headed a short distance back to the Jeep where we were soon met by Nick and his family. We set up a nice camp along with some EZups that would take the sun off and too offered a cool place for a shooting lane.


Nick was kind enough to set up his chronograph and Lab Radar

We set up several targets, spinners and later on my two friends even brought some heavy steel we set up at 130 yards through the trees.


After a full day of shooting we had a nice campfire followed by dinner, laughs and a few mosquito bites. The night was so peaceful and quiet other than a few Owls and the distant chatter of Coyotes.


Saturday morning came about and I woke up a bit late, being now after 8:00 am where we had expected Tom and several others to arrive throughout the day. Nicks wife was kind enough to make a nice pot of caffeine that I much needed to start my day of adventuring. Marley was so happy just to be outside and able to play stick with Nicks two boys.


Sometime around 11:00am Tom arrived with a .308 and .357 Slayer where him and Nick planned to test several different weights of Big Bore ammo. We had acquired a heavy steel quadrant target that I dragged 250 yards up through the trees, a great challenging target considering the small window it left to shoot through the thick branches.


Tom was using the nielsenspecialtyammo.com swaged 98.9gr .308 going 970 fps, gets out pretty quick and by the end of the day proved to be very accurate.


Later after lunch my friend Brent and his son Brian came to visit us and to tell us about the scouting they had done for Cottontail. My friend Brent is not an Airgunner but him and his son both showed great interest in the Big Bores we had on the table, heck who wouldn’t? Tom eagerly invited them to try them out and they both surly did.




After a bit more fun we took a break and relaxed in the shade talking about hunting, shooting and just having a few great conversations!
Tom sadly had to leave the fun and head back to his desert home so Nick, Marley and I loaded into the Jeep to do some scouting and to meet Craig down the road where he would follow us back to camp. By this time it was near 5:30 when we finally met up with Craig, was happy to see another friendly face join us in the reindeer games. Marley and I went out on another short hunt not far from camp where she was able to tackle herself some dinner down near the creek, a small Cottontail to be exact. That little dog is as amazing as they come and has brought so much joy into my life having such a good little companion as her. That evening we had more laughter along with some tasty chicken cabobs Nicks wife provided.


The next morning I woke up fairly early and headed up the hill to visit Brent and his son Brian and see how they faired with the opening day of cottontail season. They ended up getting one Cottontail not far from our camp using a shotgun at 30 yards on the run. I wish I had taken my camera but unfortunately did not. We all made way back to camp and enjoyed the shade from the EZup along with plenty of water that is so important on such hot days, especially when hiking around. I had suggested going on a Ground Squirrel hunt and Nick and Craig were both eager to attend. We packed our gear and brought plenty of water where I had planned to set them up near where I had gone the day before.

                                                                    Nick with his .25 Cricket
I set them both up about 50 yards apart where they both had some good view of the adjacent hillside.

                                                 Craig with his .25 Vulcan 

After several minutes Craig and I could hear the solid crack of Nicks .25 Cricket smacking a Ground-squirrel as it made its way up a fallen log. Nice shot at what looked to be about 35 yards or so. I sat with Craig for about 20 minutes before Marley and I decided to take a hike and circle back around to camp, I had hoped to find more active areas but the heat was taking its toll on us both. Craig had left not to long before Marley and I arrived back at camp, was hoping everyone would have better luck with hunting but it really was very hot. That evening Nick and I set out again where his son was able to spot a good size Cottontail at 35 yards sitting under a bush, hidden very well I might add. Nick took a great shot that put that bunny down with authority. Marley was happy to retrieve and was even allowed in the photograph.  ;D


Nick and his boy headed back to camp and Marley and I continued along the creek-bed when just before dark I was able to spot a small Cottontail at 45 yards just at the edge of the embankment.

                                                 American Air Arms EVOL .30
Marley and I had a great finish to a long weekend and were both super tired, we slept great that night. The following morning we got up a bit late and started packing up the camp for our long venture home, where we both needed a long hot shower. I thank everyone who attended and am embarrassed because I forgot some names and was not as organized as I usually am with photos. I have been doing a great deal of filming lately and have not been writing as much as I should, this is what I enjoy and can’t forget the importance of it. Through my writing I hope to not only entertain but to bring the spark of our sport to the newcomers. As some may know I started this online magazine along with my video series that can be found on YouTube, I have put much work into both and really appreciate all the support I have been given.

“The best gun’s the one you’re shooting”

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Airguns, where to hunt?

Many who are new to the sport of Airguns may eventually want to get started in hunting with them. Getting started in hunting may be discouraging with the thought of having to get a hunting license and simply finding a place to legally hunt. I will use the State of California as an example as this is where I have the majority of my hunting experience. Today with the larger selection of Airguns it’s possible to hunt a wider variety of animals. As a new hunter it’s very important to take a Hunter Safety Course that goes over the basic laws, safety and ethics of hunting. Several ways of going about getting a Hunter Safety, but the easiest way would be to take part of it online followed by a 4 hour follow up class. After both the online and follow up class is successfully completed we are able to buy our license that is good for a year before having to renew it. This license is to be carried with us at all times during any type of hunting situation and is strongly enforced by both the Game Warden and local law enforcement.


After you have gotten your hunting license now what? Well, what are you interested in hunting is a first step. California has a good amount of small game that we are legally able to take with an Airgun. Subsection 311(f) identifies small game Airgun hunting legal in California. It allows any caliber of pellet to be used for hunting small game, with the exception that one must use a caliber of at least 0.177 when hunting wild turkey. If turkey hunting is your goal, make sure the air gun you use is 0.177 caliber at a minimum. Those who want to go hunting with Airguns are allowed to take non-game species, such as pigeons, starlings, coyote, ground squirrels, and jackrabbits(All Year). Those interested in California small game or non-game hunting should check for additional regulations regarding allowed hunting times and locations, as the rules varies by species hunted.


After you have decided what your able to hunt you obviously need to find an area to legally hunt. Some of us that have been doing this for years have whats called a “Permission” private land that the owner has given us permission to hunt on. These are not always easy to get but with work can be quite rewarding for both the hunter and landowner. The next option is hunting on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The State of California hunting regulations must be followed on Federal Lands. All hunting in California is regulated by the California Department of Fish and Game. You must have a valid hunting license. It is your responsibility to know all laws and regulations related to the use of firearms in California. Are there areas on public lands which are closed to legal hunting? Yes. You may not hunt near BLM campgrounds or within Off-Highway Vehicle areas. Hunting maps are available from the California Fish and Game and from sporting goods stores and gun shops. Where can I get topographic maps? Topographic maps are for sale from engineering firms and sporting goods stores. You can also order on-line from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Does BLM have other maps for sale? Yes. The BLM maps, known as “Access Guides” are for sale in the California District office and they sell for $4.00 each, show public and private land ownership, and are at a scale of one-half inch to the mile. Can I drive anywhere I care to on public lands when I am hunting? No. Vehicles are restricted to designated routes of travel as posted and as shown on BLM maps. Vehicles are prohibited in all wilderness areas. Cross-country travel is permitted only in the off-highway vehicle areas. Target Shooting is allowed on public lands, unless posted “No Shooting”. County shooting ordinances and codes must be followed on Federal Lands. In addition, you must provide your own targets and remove your debris and targets when you leave. Several phone “apps” can be bought online and in many cases are the easiest to use as they are essentially Google Map overlays.

  • When in doubt about an area check with local sheriff or land management agencies before using an area for shooting. Do not shoot on private land without the owner’s written permission.
  • Find a safe backdrop to shoot into. Shots fired across open desert can travel up to two miles or more in distance.
  • Shoot only retrievable, freestanding targets. It is illegal to shoot trees, bottles, or other objects. Take all used targets with you.
  • Do not shoot within 150 yards of any man-made object, camp, domestic livestock, or occupied dwelling.
  • Play safe and use caution. Shooting has a great risk for injuring people at great distances.
  • Many of these areas are closed to target shooting during fire season excluding hunting.

With so many Airguns available now it’s sometimes difficult to choose a gun that’s right for the situation. Years ago we really only had three or four calibers to choose from such as .177,.20,.22 and .25 that was considered big. Today we have many types of piston guns and powerful PCP’s that now include Big Bore calibers up to .45 and .50. The PCP guns have really taken off and are available to just about anyone, even on a budget.

Airgun pellet selection

If we are hunting small game animals it narrows the field of whats needed to ethically kill but a few things need to be understood. When hunting with Airguns we are dealing with projectiles that are for the most part subsonic and lose fpe (Foot Pounds of Energy) very quickly. When hunting with an Airgun such as a .177 we are dealing with primarily a short range caliber as this fpe is lost very quickly the further the pellet travels from the muzzle. Most all Airguns give best accuracy at subsonic speeds so lets just set the examples given to 900 fps “feet per second” A smaller caliber can sometimes provide good accuracy at longer range but may not hold its energy well enough out past 60 yards to make an ethical kill. Many factors can effect fpe in any given caliber such as weight, speed etc, the goal is to find a pellet that shoots most accurately out of your gun. I use a .30 PCP rifle that produces 85 fpe at the muzzle and its pellet can hold that energy very well out past 100 yards. I choose this caliber due to the wide range of species I can use it for as well as being better suited to hold true in the wind at longer ranges than a smaller caliber. Again, we have larger “slug” shooting guns but these are true Big Bores and are beyond necessity for small game application besides possibly Coyote’s. The best thing a new hunter can do is to practice, getting familiar with how the gun shoots along with learning holdover and hold-under techniques at various ranges. Targets set at various ranges are always a good way of learning where to aim in different situations and familiarity with judging distances. Another great way of practice is using plastic spoons set up at various distances, this is a very cheap way to improve marksmanship and is very similar in size to a small animals kill-zone.


When we are familiar with how our gun is working it may be time to put together a “kit” that we will venture to the field with. This kit may change between the animals we are hunting, seasons and the length of time we are hunting for. This is just a basic list of items I carry and it may lengthen depending on the hunt.

john with backpack airgun hunting

  • Backpack
  • Food, snacks, water etc,
  • Tools for doing simple repairs or adjustments in the field
  • Rangefinder
  • Binoculars
  • Extra pellets, magazines
  • Shooting sticks or Bi-pod if desired
  • Map of area being hunted
  • Hunting License
  • Knife
  • Extra Air (Buddy Bottle) if applicable

(Note) Always good to let someone know where you are and to dress accordingly with changing weather conditions.


Hunting with an Airgun can be a very rewarding experience and offers the hunter a challenge that sometimes cannot be found with a traditional firearm. One of the keys to being a successful Airgun hunter is shot placement and the ability to get closer to the animals we are hunting. Learning to get closer to the animals we are hunting takes skill, patience and the willingness to learn from mistakes.