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Coyote Hunting After Dark

by Ron Stephen


Last week a bunch of our regular shooting group met at our favorite permission. We had a great time as usual, and got to start enjoying the comforts of our new Shootin’ Shack.

shootin shack

The first night I slept in the rear bunk, I noticed the window had these odd looking latches that the other windows did not have.
HMmmm,…. I wonder what those things are ? ? ? OH !, Well Check THAT out !,… How Convenient !,… It’s a built in Snipers post.


I got up the following morning, and enjoyed the welcome luxury of being able to make a pot of coffee, and relaxing at the dinette.
As I was sitting there, I wondered if the crank open windows might open far enough, to allow my barrel to stick out while my rifle is sitting on the bipod. Well it was just perfect, (with the help of a few Airgun World magazines) to boost it up a little, SWEET ! hahaha

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So I’m sitting there sipping my cup of ‘Joe’, waiting for the gang to start showing up, and just enjoying the quiet morning as I gazed down the firing line. Way down at the 100 yard rock, I think I notice a little movement. Should I put my boots on ?,…. Nahh,…The coffee is hot, the outside is cold, the window is open, and the heater is nice in here. The rifle is chambered, and just needs to be cocked. I’ll sit right here and see if the movement comes back. Wait,… yep,… I see something…It’s a big fat Ground Squirrel that is completely oblivious to the fact I had previously zero’d the new American Air Arms .30 EVOL at that exact same rock, and I was in the trailer just waiting for the opportunity. Yep, This is going to be a good story for the guys when they get here in a little while. I take another sip of java, set down my cup, and get into position. I’m thinking to myself, “DANG this is nice to have a shooting bench from INSIDE the trailer”. I’m just LOVING it ! Right about then, Mr. Dirt Rat decides to jump up on top of my rock to take a look around and start his day. Suffice to say,… His day didn’t last very long. I served him up a 44.75gr JSB breakfast, delivered at 925 FPS, straight to the fuse-box. Good way to start of the day for me,…. not so good for Mr. Fuzzy Tail.

100 yard ground squirrel kill evol .30
evol .30 ground squirrel kill

So the gang started showing up and got themselves going on the target range and having a great time. We have lots of skilled shooters and lots of Really Cool “toys” to shoot. They were all very anxious to get to try out the new EVOL test gun.

shootin shack
airgun shooters

I had brought some nice Smoked Bacon and Cajun spiced Sausage from the hog Jeff and I had raised last year, and since this IS a Chicken farm, We get to pick the Eggs still warm from the chickens. It doesn’t get much better than that! Lets put on another pot of coffee while we’re at it.

ron cooking
So the day is going great, We are having a fantastic time throwing all kinds of lead. Every thing from the little QB’s to the various big bores, some slug pushers, and exotic customs, and fancy bullpups, you name it !

airgun shooters
So some of the guys had to hit the road, and Nick and I had decided to stay the night and play with his Thermal stuff. MAN !,… He’s got some SUPER DUPER COOL TOYS to play with. He was using his .308 Slayer, and had loaned me his totally custom .257 Condor, Built by the “.257 Master”, Mr. Doug Noble. OH yeah,… I’m a very lucky guy,… and this is going to be a GREAT Night ! If you ever get a chance to shoot one of Doug’s masterpieces, I suggest you Do NOT pass up that opportunity. I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed. Nick and I set up our benches so that we can collectively cover a 180 degree sweep. We turn some tables on their sides to give us more cover, and to block the cold nights breeze. We set up a propane heater between us and get ourselves all comfortable for a long night of scanning the darkness.
I always enjoy a long night hunt with Nick (because he brings some good munchies to snack on too)

sunset night coyote hunt

So after darkness came, we started seeing all kinds of bunnies and rats running around, and the Coyotes were plentiful howling and yipping it up off in the distance. Some time had passed and we had spotted a quite few. They were way too far out of range, but they would be coming in soon for their nightly feedings of dead chickens. (since this is a chicken farm with 40,000+ chickens, there are several dead chickens per day that get disposed of), and the Coyotes are accustomed to their nightly raids. We had popped a few rabbits to pass the time, (and to have for fresh rabbit stew), and the Coyotes were starting to gather in more closely.

evol .30 night hunt

We started working with the caller and sqweekers and soon were spotting A LOT of Coyotes, (I’m talking about over 25 of them) but they were all staying too far out to get a decent shot. At one point, we spotted SIX of them coming in together, but they would not come in any closer than about 300 yards. Way too far for a night time shot. After a while, Nick went to take a little nap due to not feeling too well, and I stayed out to keep the watch going. I guess about an hour had passed and I had seen several Coyotes within 100 – 150 yards, (which is well within range of Doug’s .257), but they were on the move, and did not present themselves with a decent shot, so I waited. (NOT an easy thing to do !) A little while later, I get a text from Tom over at American Air Arms, asking how it was going, and how everyone liked shooting the EVOL today. I had my headset with me, so I gave him a call back while sitting at the bench and scanning thru the scope. As we were talking, a bunny pops out at the same rock that the mornings Ground Squirrel was sitting on. (Apparently this bunny “hadn’t gotten the memo”). So while I’m on the phone with Tom, I point the phone down range and I re-send the memo out again to Mr. bunny. This time he received the message! Tom said that he could even hear the impact over the phone. Then,… to my surprise,… and only moments later, I see a larger movement down at the end of the range. Yep it’s a Coyote !, and he’s coming right down the middle of the range, directly at me !

Heck, I got so excited I didn’t know what to think ! I’m still on the phone with Tom, and I’m Whispering to him the play by play as the Coyote is coming in. He’s just as excited as I am, and is whispering back to me Then he says “Hey Why am I whispering too ? I’m on the phone !” The Coyote is about 150 yards out and he’s swaying his way in kind of slow. I know the .257 is zero’d at 125 yards, and I’m getting ready for the shot. The Coyote begins to trot right to me, and I’ve got “Buck Fever” so bad at this point, I didn’t realize soon enough he was at the 125 yard mark, and he kept coming in closer. My heart is racing and my excitement almost got the best of me. I’ve been waiting for this all night, and I’m about to blow it. He’s trotting in and approaching the 100 yard mark. (yep,… it’s the same rock where Mr. Bunny and Mr. Ground Squirrel were reading their mail). I suddenly realize that I’ve got to stop him, or I’ll probably shoot high and miss. I let out a “Woof”, and he stops dead in his tracks facing right at me. He’s instantly on FULL Alert, ears raised, chest high, and hunched down on his rear haunches.
He’s spooked and was about to bolt away. I’ve only got one chance and maybe 2 seconds, to place the cross-hairs to take the shot.
My heart is POUNDING SO HARD THE GUN IS BOUNCING !

I put the cross-hairs at the lower part of his rib-cage, figuring that should be just enough hold under to make a good heart / lung shot,… and I let the “Fat Lady Sing”and  I was dead on the target. The impact sounded like a fastball hitting the catchers mitt. I think Tom could hear that impact over the phone too!  I started giggling like a little girl and was telling Tom “I got Him! I got Him! ” Tom was cheering me too ” Right ON Buddy ! Congrats !” Upon impact, the Coyote spun around 3 or 4 times like a kids toy spinning top. It was pretty wild, and then he bolted about 6 or 8 feet into the weeds where I could not see him. I was going crazy that he was hit, and might get away. I told Tom that I had to go chase him down to finish him off, and would call him back. He was saying “go Go GO !!!,… GO GET HIM and Call me Back !” I had previously loaded the EVOL, and had it sitting behind me, de-cocked, just for this purpose. I cocked the EVOL as I headed down the shooting lane into the darkness, and not knowing exactly where the Coyote might be, it was a little spooky. I knew that if it was wounded, it could come out of a bush at me and that could be dangerous. I had my Laser Designator lit up on the EVOL, and a bright flashlight in my hand. When I got up to the point where I had lost sight of him, I slowed my pace and gathered my senses. Heart pounding and breathing racing, I turn into the brush and I’m scanning left and right watching for anything that moves and ready to let the EVOL bust off a round. I go no more than 20 or 25 more feet into the brush, I find the Coyote already down and lifeless. He’s completely limp, eyes open, tongue hanging out, and no breathing. Apparently He didn’t make it as far as I had thought. I held back for a few moments to make sure he was down for good. I circled around behind him and gave his head a little poke with the muzzle of the EVOL. “Go ahead and twitch sucker, .. and I’m putting 85 more FPE into your noggin’ !” 2 or 3 pokes with the muzzle confirmed he was already expired. Good !, It was a good hit and a fast kill.

ron with his .257 coyote kill
I flipped him over to reveal the .257 had passed almost completely through the length of his body. It exited just forward of the rear leg, with a  massive hole and bleeding. This dog was basically “dead on impact”, but it just took him a couple of seconds to realize that,… and to have the decency to fall down. WOW ! What a RUSH that was ! MY First YOTE ! WOO-HOOooooo ! (No,… I did not take him down with the EVOL)
This pic is when I first went out to get him, and I grabbed up the EVOL to take with me, rather than reload the .257, (and not to mention the LONG gun that it is to try and carry)

evol .30 coyote
Nick had woken up when he heard the shots ,but I was already heading out after it, by the time he made it out of the trailer. The Coyote and the bunny I had got only moments before

.257 coyote kill
When I came dragging it back, Nick was sitting at his gun and was just smiling like nobody’s business and congratulating me on getting my first Coyote. I think he was just as proud and happy as I was, when I came out of the darkness with the dog in tow.

coyote rabbit kill

THANKS Nick from Nielsen Specialty Ammo ! for loaning me your awesome rifle and Thermal to give me the opportunity to get my first trophy yote… And THANKS to Doug Noble for building such an AMAZING Rifle! MAN ! I’ve gotta get me one of these .257 Bad-boys someday !  Nick and Doug are both out at the farm right now. They just sent me a pic of Doug and his Coyote that he just got tonight, , but You’ll have to wait for him to tell all about it.

doug noble .338

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Jackrabbit Safari

On Friday morning the 13th of May Terry and I set out several hours North to meet up with Jessi where we would be spending three days hunting Jackrabbits. The area we were hunting is very close to resembling East Africa, it’s home to animals such as Pronghorn Antelope, Tule elk, Fox, Coyote, Mountain Lions, Wild Pigs and a wide variety of birds. The area is vast and consist of approx 38,900 acres of huntable area, one of the more remote locations I frequent.

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The drive in was very pleasant with the weather being nice and cool with a slight breeze, perfect temp for hiking around. We arrived to find Jessi waiting excitedly to tell us how busy he had been already bagging three Jackrabbits. After hearing of his success we all had that excited Christmas morning feeling. We set up camp and headed out of the campground on foot heading towards previously scouted areas that later proved to be exploding with Jackrabbit populations. Jessi had brought several guns but he had chosen his S200AA .177 tuned to 14fpe, beautiful gun it is.

hunting jackrabbits

He had taken this shot from 65 yards.

We all were jackrabbit hunting fairly close together in amazement of how many Jackrabbits were running around, almost had to choose which one you wanted.

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I had brought several guns but had decided to take the Slayer out as some of the brush was very thick and I thought it may be nice to have something that could punch through it.

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Running shot at approx 75 yards.

The area had many hills that made great vantage points to hunt from, offering good long range shots.

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After some time hunting we had all made our way back to camp where we had lunch, talked airguns and relaxed in the shade.

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By this time it was late afternoon and we all set out again to hike around hoping to get some more action. Terry had brought his Tapian Mutant Bullpup .22, beautiful gun that’s made in the Ukraine with a CZ S200 barrel and 12 shot Magazine.

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I had brought my trusted .22 Marauder and had managed to bag several with that.

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65 yard shot to the neck.

Terry had found a nice vantage point to look down onto a field where we had found quite a few.

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Jessi was back at the camp playing with Terry’s HW97 FT rifle, one of the nicest underlever springers I’ve ever shot.

Jackrabbit hunting day two started out early for us as we set out at sunrise to look for the elusive amber ears.

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The views from the mountaintops were truly amazing, picture perfect. I was enjoying just being away from work and being out with my friends in the place I love. Next to having a large abundance of animals this place also had a wide variety of very beautiful plant-life.
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The area was so vast that you can easily get lost in walking the mountains and grasslands, most of the Jackrabbits we had found were in the thick brush. What was happening was I would walk trying to spot one in the shadows only to spring one several feet away. It would take off only to stop on a hillside giving only seconds to make a shot. I had a good amount of luck hunting from the hillsides catching them in the valleys between hills.

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80 yards across a canyon.

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Got this one running up a hillside at 30 yards

We met back at camp for a late lunch where after we did some exploring of a nearby building that had been part of a cattle ranch in the late 1800s. Very neat and well preserved stall that is still in use today by equestrians that sometimes pass through for a rest.

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After lunch I had set out again, this time heading further out of the valley where I had seen some dog size Jackrabbits. I hiked several miles North up into some unexplored hillsides where I was able to take several very large Jackrabbits, possibly the largest I’ve ever seen up close. The one I took was by pure luck as he wandered in front of me at 60 yards on a hillside, second one I spotted running at around 45 yards through some thick brush. Made my way back to camp with something to show and a big smile on my face, what a rush it is to have some success.

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While I was out tromping around I had noticed a few larger Jackrabbits, problem was they were far out of reach for the Marauder. It was by this time late afternoon but the perfect time to take the Slayer out. I had been shooting it quite a bit so only had several rounds left I had been saving for long range kills. I hiked up a trail near the camp that offered a great view of the entire valley, my plan was to sit and wait for movement below. The past few weeks I had been practicing at 300/400 yards so had become very comfortable at those ranges and proficient with doping for wind. After only a few minutes of waiting I had spotted several large Jackrabbits at over 500 yards away. Having no experience at that range I decided to wait for one to come closer,didn’t take long for the both of them to make there way in. The first shot I took was a bit under 400 yards, landing several inches under his feet causing him to sprint away to the right. The second Jackrabbit ran behind a bush that was impossible to see through or over even at the elevation I was at. After waiting a few minutes I decided I had to move position to the opposite mountain to see behind the bush. This proved to be quite the workout as around the valley was several miles. 😛

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The sun was still putting out heat by 4:00pm

I made my way around to the opposing mountain and sat above looking down on my prey at 275 yards, lined up on little over 3 milldots and fired, hitting about an inch or two over his head sending him into a sprint away. The second shot made its way right behind the neck sending him tumbling to a dead stop at 330 yards.

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Great way to end the day.

Day three of jackrabbit hunting started very early as we had been awoken by animal noises and the sounds of critters scurrying around the camp,even found a Jackrabbit leg lying in the camp that morning. Terry was the first in the field with Jessi and I following soon after, this morning was a bit cold and had some clouds coming in from the distance.

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I sat up on a hill looking down into the brush trying to find some to flush out into Terry’s way. He had been standing in an open field where we had seen quite a few hopping around.
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As I looked down I could see Terry had spotted one at 40 yards or so, the Jackrabbit kept getting closer and closer. My first thought was, “Is he calling it in?” The Jack didn’t even see him and at this point was running right at him, couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Terry knelled down and took a shot that I could see went right over the top of the Jackrabbits head, wow a miss and this thing was still coming in. The Jackrabbit got as close as 10yrds and I think in all the excitement Terry had forgotten to give hold under, a mistake I make quite often. Well the Jackrabbit was gone but I have to say it was quite the spectacle from my angle, amazing to watch. We took a break gathering our thoughts over the whole ordeal realizing his poi was off due to using some lighter weight ammo that was causing him to shoot way high.
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We all continued the hunt combing a new area where I had spotted a group of monster Jackrabbits, all three of us were able to get some shots on a few of them.
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This area has some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen along with being one of my most special areas to hunting jackrabbits. Spending time with good friends as always is the highlight of any trip such as this along with enjoying the beauty of nature and learning a thing or two along the way. A few people were missing from this trip. If your reading this you know who you are and I hope you can make it out for the next adventure. Enclosed are a few other photos in no particular order I hope you all can enjoy 8)

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Jessi with his .22 Huntsman
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Terry looking all serious
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Me examining three holes from one shot 😮
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Looking down on our camp,the only trees for miles.