February 13, 2014
By Skip Knowles
People have been killing coyotes with shotguns forever, but a huge spike in predator hunting with shotguns has occurred recently for a lot of good reasons, besides an overall increase in interest in the sport and the fact it's a lot easier to hit a sneaky coyote with a shotgun than a rifle.
A few things have happened that have nearly doubled the effective range of shotguns. In fact, you can no longer really call them scatterguns. Superior lead loads for coyotes and non-toxics like Hevi-Shot Dead Coyote, even more effective than lead, have come along. Better chokes, better barrels, and, in particular, the improved quality and acceptance of red dots and holographic sight systems have made a difference.
Many shotguns don't shoot true to dead center of pattern much past 40 yards, but with a red-dot sight, you can adjust for that out to 80 yards, a huge advantage. These easy-to-use sights also allow you to fully view your target with no barrel/sight covering half the critter, and allow fast target acquisition and both-eyes-open shooting.
Additionally, e-callers have also made shotguns more effective. Before, mouth calling, if you didn't kill a coyote before it got close, you probably weren't going to because they are so keen at pinpointing the caller. Now, you can take the coyote's focus off you with e-callers and decoys, making for a lot more of those lethal 20-yard shots with a scattergun.
More and more of us have come to see that the perfect coyote gun is a shotgun. My amigo from Mojo, Terry Denmon, stones coyotes at 50 yards or less and feels like that it is the coolest way to do it, though he would never criticize others for shooting coyotes at great distance.
To him the fun is getting them close, and to do otherwise is like killing turkeys with a rifle: you can do it, but it's just not as fulfilling. Call 'em close and have that skill or don't shoot.
But truth is, shotties are murderously lethal, not a handicap. With a rifle, you must have a stationary target clear of all brush, and you must not rush the shot. Even deep grass will deflect that tiny high-velocity rifle bullet. With a shotgun, you can shoot a moving target in heavy brush in a snap second. Hunt predators much and you'll see why that's important!
Case-in-point: My brother-in-law Kenny tried calling for the first time in Wyoming last year. He and his rookie partners spread out, and shot a dog right away as three came in. The other two charged straight and fast despite the shot. One of them streaked right past the guys (too close and fast-moving for a rifle shot) and the third ran straight into the end of Kenny's rifle barrel, knocking him backward!
He never pulled the trigger. If one of them had a shotgun, they would have smoked both those other dogs. It is moments like this that make us love predator hunting. (By the way, we always advocate the use of both a rifle and shotgun if you are in open country or have a partner).
The only way to kill that dog would be with a shotgunâ€¦but you have to see him first! Pumps are OK, but you have to make sure you don't have one with a loud, loose forestock so common in shuckers. With the hard-kicking loads we like, the softer recoil and silent, faster reload of a semi-auto is the way to go. Here are a few of the best new shotguns for predator hunting in 2014.
CZ 712 ALS
The CZ 712 ALS
is not going to win a beauty contest, but that adjustable AR-style stock on the 712 allows a lot of functionality. A slightly shorter length of pull is terrific when either sitting down bunched up during a set or while wearing heavy clothes, not to mention it's adjustable as younger shooters grow or smaller statured coyote-killers can appreciate. Soft kicking semi-auto gas power, you just might find you love this gun when choked to kill bobcats. We have found CZ 12-gauge semis to be wonderful to shoulder and shoot, more so than much costlier brands when shot side-by-side.
Benelli SBE II Turkey
When Benelli execs first considered adding the SBE II Turkey
— an ultra bad-ass Performance Shop bang stick — to their elite line of hot-selling inertia-operated auto-loaders, they were concerned how it would be received. As any true hunter would expect, it's become one of their strongest sellers. This beast comes kill-ready with a tuned trigger, pistol grip stock, ultra-tight custom Rob Roberts choke tube, and an already sighted in Burris FastFire ll optic
. Each gun is test fired.
Remington Versa Max Tactical
Remington's new generation of semi-autos have been playing hell on birds for some time, and their latest tactical incarnation of the gun — the Versa Max Tactical
— is about perfect for pounding predators. Though marketed more to self-defense markets, it is an ideal platform to build your dream coyote smacker, and is known for light recoil and a nice between-the-hands balance. Like the Beretta, it has an oversized charging handle, bolt release button, safety and trigger well, and is optics ready. Not the lightest, at 7.75 pounds, but that translates to less felt recoil.
Winchester SX3 Universal Hunter
Lightweight and reliable, with a wonderful natural pointability, the Winchester SX3 Universal Hunter
is a gun nobody seems to ever have anything bad to say about. For Mossy Oak fans it's a must-have, especially for those whose predator gun will likely do double-duty as a duck gun that is drilled and tapped for predator-unfriendly optics. A drop-out trigger group is a nice touch.
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Check out all the newest hunting guns for 2014.
Weatherby SA-549 Turkey
Weatherby's Turkish-built semi-autos are enjoying a blooming reputation for reliability and affordability. I have used the tactical version of the SA-08 for two years now, and it's a light-kicking, gas-operated semi-auto that feels much lighter than it's 6.75 pounds due to the pistol grip and compact barrel. It comes with a stock ghost ring rear and fiber-optic front sight, great for pounding dogs to 50-plus yards, and Picatinny rail if you're ready to make the leap to an optic and stretch the coyote-killing further. The Weatherby SA-459 Turkey
has most of the same features, plus camo. Perfect.
Soft-kicking gas power and the lightning-fast Blink operating system make the Beretta 1301
one of our favorite shotguns, period, from cleaning the sky of snow geese to making the fur fly. It would be tough to design a cooler coyote killer than the new 1301 race gun, especially when you run an extended magazine tube, which allows you to kill a pair of predators with as many shots as needed and still not have to reload while waiting for a third. Oversized charging handle, bolt release, and safety are all standard on this beauty, and it's reasonably priced by Beretta standards.
Mossberg 930 Pistol Grip Turkey
We have been dying to take the Mossberg 930
predator hunting ever since busting two monster tom turkeys in South Dakota, both running shots that were made much easier because of the compact portability of these awesomely affordable predator platforms. Any of the 930 series tactical models make great predator guns as well (most come with rails for optics).