Coyote Hunts with 243 WSSM Rifles

One of my favorites things to do is coyote hunt. With four kids and the demands of the family I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like. I end up saving all my kitchen passes to go deer and elk hunting.

Here are a few of the coyotes I have taken the past couple of years with my 243 WSSM rifles.

Coyote Oklahoma 2001 Remington BDL 25-06 Rem.
This coyote was my 3rd or fourth coyote I had ever taken.
  • 2001
  • 25-06 Rem. Remington BDL 
  • 100g Nosler Partition
  • 191 Yards
 
243 WSSM Coyotes Oklahoma 2005
My first double. I have had the barrel fluted on this rifle since this photo was taken.
  • 2005
  • 243 WSSM
  • Browning A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate, 24" barrel
  • 75g Hornady V-Max Handload
  • 3440 fps
  • 50 yards and 132 yards
 
 243 WSSM Coyote Model 1885 2006
 Hunting with my good friend Clint. This coyote was disemboweled.
  • 2005
  • 243 WSSM
  • Winchester Model 1885, 28" barrel
  • Bushnell Elite 4200 4-16x
  • 75g Hornady V-Max Handload
  • 158 yards
 
 243 WSSM Coyote A-Bolt 2006
  Hunting with my good friend Clint.
  • 2006
  • 243 WSSM
  • Browning A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate, 22" barrel
  • Bushnell Elite 3200 3-10x SA
  • 55g Nosler Ballistic Tip factory load
  • 4080 fps
  • 280 yards

During the summer of 2010 I took a couple more coyotes with my Winchester Model 1885 243 WSSM rifle. You can read about this in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 Coyote Double journal entry.

DIY Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller

Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller
Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote/Predator Caller

Being the Do-It-Yourself guy I am, I thought a homemade coyote caller would be a lot cheaper than a commercial electronic call and a fun project for me to tinker around with.

I started out using an old Browning flashlight housing. I got an inexpensive mp3 player and the Speco SPC-5P speaker from eBay and a old double male audio cable I had kicking around the house. The rest of the parts needed I ordered from Radio Shack.

The battery pack holds eight batteries so to achieve 9 volts (6 times 1.5v AA batteries equals 9v) I placed a piece of copper tubing across one of the two AA battery slots. Having this larger pack of batteries lasts a lot longer than just a single 9v battery.

I then cut the bottom of the mini amplifier off so that it would fit inside the flashlight case and wired it as shown in the diagram.

Homemade Electronic Coyote Call Wiring Diagram Using audio editing software I changed the meta tags of all my predator MP3 sounds. I changed the "artist" tag to different animal sounds. In this way I could browse by artist and bring up all the rabbit or coyote sounds etc. I set the MP3 player to repeat so I can pause and play the same sound over and over.

Another thing I like to do with my MP3 files is make 20-30 minute calling scenario MP3 files. I do this by bringing various sounds into my audio editing software. For instance I will have two minutes of silence at the beginning, then I will have a series of mouse squeaks and then a minute or so pause. Then some louder rabbit squalls and then a couple of series of the rabbit squalls over a ten minute window. Towards the end I will often throw in a coyote challenge bark/howl and then a distress ki-yi bark. You can also mix in bird sounds all along the way like a crow or a magpie. I think you get the idea. You can have fun and make all sorts of various predator calling sequences.

 

Two coyotes, Model 1885, 243 WSSM, Homemade Electronic Coyote Caller
A pair of coyotes taken with my homemade electronic caller. You can read more about this hunt in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 Coyote Double journal entry.

When I have these long pre-made audio sequences I can set my call out in front of me however far I want. I now have two minutes to get back into position before the mouse squeaking starts. Then I sit back and enjoy the show.

Basic parts list that I used:

  • MP3 Player
  • Housing, from a flashlight case or gym bag etc.
  • Speco SPC-5P Speaker
  • 8 "AA" Battery Holder (Radio Shack, Catalog #270-407)
  • Red LED with Holder (Radio Shack, Catalog #276-084), Optional but nice to know when it is on.
  • Fully Insulated 9V Battery Snap Connectors (Radio Shack, Catalog #270-325)
  • SPST 3-Amp "Soft-Feel" Push On-Push Off Switch (Radio Shack, Catalog #275-1565)
  • 3.5mm male to male audio extension cable

 

Mini Amplifier used for Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller Mini Amplifier with bottom cut off used for Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller
 Mini Amp before I cut the bottom off.  Mini Amp with bottom battery compartment removed.
   
Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller Inside Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller
Battery pack, Mini Amp, and Speaker. View inside the main compartment compartment.
   
Speaker with two screws holding it on Electronic Coyote Predator Caller Do-It-Yourself Homemade Electronic Coyote Predator Caller
I drilled two holes through the speaker and used screws to hold the speaker in place. View of the outside before wrapping it in a removable camouflage wrap.

 

2008 Mule Deer Hunt — Quest to Find The Large Typical Ghost Buck

Model 1885 Mule Deer Hunt 2008After seeing a couple of potential shooter bucks and one really nice buck in 2007. I was looking forward to go back into the area for 2008. Those thoughts quickly were all but dashed as the Winter of 2007/2008 just decimated the deer herd here in Northern Utah.

This was my third year in my current round of the Dedicated Hunter program. A program that allows you to hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. It does come with a limit of harvesting only two deer in three years and other requirements. I was hopeful that during one of the three seasons this year I would find the large buck from 2007 back in the area but, not too hopeful with the number of deer I saw lying dead in the spring.

Backpacking out during the mule deer muzzloader hunt in 2008Opening day of the archery season saw me working my way around the same basin from my successful 2007 mule deer hunt.  Where I had seen dozens of deer the year before I only found handfuls this year. It was a pretty disappointing day with one large exception. I worked my why around the basin and dropped around another when I spotted the shadow of something working it's way towards me in the pines. I worked my way into position to see what it was when all of the sudden it made a 90 degree turn broadside to me and walked through an opening at 56 yards and my jaw hit the ground. It was one of the largest typical four points I had ever seen on the hoof, both wide and tall. His only weakness was that his g3's were only in the 8 inch range. I quickly judged him to be a minimum of 180 inches. The direction he was now heading would put him on a game trail some 30 yards in front of me and slightly uphill. I was ready but, he didn't show up in the time I figured it should have taken him. After another minute or so I spotted him trotting out the opposite direction away from me. Blasted wind! All I could figure was that the wind had swirled enough for him to get a whiff up me.

The rest of the seasons I became obsessed with getting that buck. I went in a couple more times with my bow and was unsuccessful in locating him again. During the muzzleloader season I was back in the area with my brother. We backpacked in and setup a base camp the night before the season opener. On the way in we spotted a couple smaller bucks and a large two point. That two point ended up being the second largest buck I would see that entire year.

 

3 Point Mule Deer Bedded Muzzleloader Season 2008

Here is a 3 point bedded down during the muzzleloader season. This deer is about a hundred yards from me at the time. The picture is a little grainy. I need a better camera with a better optical zoom.

We spent the next four days trying to locate the large typical but were unsuccessful in finding him. However we bumped a deer that had to of been bedded before light. I took note of this thinking that it might have been the buck and made one last trip in with a muzzleloader before the season ended. This time I came into the basin from the opposite direction to get a better vantage point and watch the area where we had bumped the deer several days before.

I watched what I figured was the large two point way across the basin and a smaller 3 point but I didn't see anything work it's way into the area we had bumped the deer from. I decided I would swing downwind and try creeping my way through the area and see if I could lightly bump him if he was in there and hope if he was there he would offer a shot.  A tactic I was successful using muzzleloader hunting for muleys in my youth. While fully camouflaged I would work my way into the wind quietly. If I bumped a buck they would often bounce a couple bounces then stop at around 50 yards, turn broadside and look back to see what bumped them. I was going to see if the old tactic work for me today.

About 50 yards from were we had bumped the deer before I was working my way through the thick pockets of fallen timber and jack pines when not 10 yards directly in front of me I bumped a buck. In fact all I could see was a very quick look at a antler fork in the small pines. The buck made two bounces and everything went dead silent. Unfortunately, I was not any any position to see where he was. I crept around the direction I saw and heard him bound too but he was a ghost. He just disappeared, vanished! Ok, now I was mad. I'll be back in three weeks with my rifle and we'll see who wins next time.

Three weeks passed and my brother and I had hiked much of the night to swing way out and around the basin to slip in to a position where we had an excellent vantage point to cover a large area with a rifle. I decided not to pack either of my lighter weight 243 WSSM rifles due to the long distances across the canyon from the vantage point I had chosen. I packed in my long range Model 1885 in 270 WSM. I have ultra confidence in this rifle out to 600 yards.  And this rifle has proved it's self on the range and on cow elk at 555 yards and 608 yard shots.

As daylight broke we watched a few does and fawns and a small four point but we didn't see anything enter the bedding area just like we had in the past. Around noon my brother decided to sneak into the hidden deer lair while I watched to see what might come out.

Large two point mule deer taken by my brother during the 2008 rifle seasonHe made it across the canyon and into the lair and like two times before, a buck was in there and it came bailing out. My brother could tell it was an ok buck but wasn't able to positively identify how big he really was. He made a split second decision and shot the buck through a opening in the dark timber. There ended up being a lot of ground shrinkage compared to the buck we were after. He made the right call though, because if it had of been the large typical he would have been elated but when you only have a narrow window of time to make a shot you do what you have to do. Once we got to the downed buck we found that it was the large two point we had seen before. An inspection of the teeth and I'd say he was a three and a half year old two point, as the first molars had been in for a lengthy period of time and were heavily black stained. The rest of the day we boned out the deer and hauled him up and out of the basin.

I took one more trip back into the basin that season and I spent a very cold night and a good long day hunting another of my honey holes. I remember that trip well, because of family commitments I didn't get started hiking until 11 o'clock at night. At 2 am I pulled out my sleeping bag and a tarp and rolled up under some maple trees to get a few winks of sleep before I got up and started hunting further up the mountain at daylight. I found there was a few more deer in this area but I could only find does and small bucks.

I did learn a very valuable lesson that day regarding keeping my feet cool. The night before in my sleeping bag the temperature had dropped to the low teens so it was a might bit cool the next morning and I wore two pairs of socks. Big mistake! With all the hiking I got in that day, the friction generated way to much heat in my boots, which in turn gave me huge blisters on the balls of my feet. It felt like I had a rock in both of my boots as I hiked. Not fun at all.

Thanks to the winter kill most of the bucks I saw this year were two year old bucks with the usual 3 point antlers and around a 17 inch spread. It was obvious the winter before had wiped out all the fawns and many of the older bucks, thus leaving a handful of the yearling aged bucks that were now the two and a half year old variety for the fall.

Maybe I'll have better luck in 2009. Although, I'm a firm believer that you make your own luck, by spending time on the range and in the field. Sometimes luck does fall your way but, it sure isn't going too if you're sitting on the recliner watching TV or checking on your Facebook friends when you could be out hunting.

2008 Whitetail Deer Hunt — Dallen & His First Deer

Dallen in the Double Bull Blind
Dallen from inside the Primos Double Bull ground blind.
 
Dallen in the Double Bull Blind from the location he shot his first deer.
Dallen inside the Primos Double Bull ground blind where he shot his first deer.

My wife's family is from Oklahoma and this year we were going to be spending the week of Thanksgiving with them. What a coincidence that the rifle deer hunt is going on that week. I know where Dallen and I will be all week. Dallen was now 11 years old and Oklahoma doesn't have the age restrictions that Utah has so Dallen was very excited about the opportunity to shoot his first deer.

As the hunt approached Dallen really wanted to kill his first deer with his A-Bolt in 223 Rem. Oklahoma restricts bullets to weigh a minimum of 55g. I really wanted to use the 53g Triple Shock but that would not have met the requirement. I tried that 60g Nosler Partition and I could never get it to shoot very well. The 1 in 12 twist is just not tight enough to stabilize the longer bullets. I ended up using a 55g V-Max. Not my first choice for a bullet but Dallen and I discussed at length were he could and couldn't shoot on a deer with the fragile bullet he was using. The Barnes 53g bullet would have been a much better bullet for the job but rules are rules and so the 55g V-Max is what we went with.

 

One of the many poses for the camera after shooting his first deer.
One of Dallen's many poses for the camera after shooting his first deer.

I was going to be hunting with my A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate in 243 WSSM shooting 85g Triple Shock bullets. The 243 WSSM handload I was using clocks in at 3440 fps from this 24" barreled rifle.

We used a Primos Double Bull ground blind to hunt from. It was my first time hunting from a ground blind and I really liked hunting from it, especially hunting together with Dallen. Lots of room and excellent protection from the wind and I'm sure rain if it had of rained. Dallen was not too excited with the wake-up calls at 5am. Every morning we would walk about 3/4 of a mile from the house through the pastures and down near the creek bottoms to hunt. Being in the blind a half hour before light is a lot different hunting style than a lot of the western hunts Dallen has been going with me on. Dallen was a trooper and was up early hunting every morning for six straight days.

 

Dallen and I inspect the entry wound on his first deer

With the help of a tripod and the timer on the camera, Dallen and I inspect the entry wound on his first deer. Hmm, some of these photos look a lot like some on browning.com. ;)

With Browning being located in Utah there isn't a lot of Whitetail looking country. I tried to take a few photos while we were hunting to take back for my day job.

We saw does from time to time but weren't finding any bucks. The day before Thanksgiving  we moved the blind into the timber near some persimmon trees that were dropping fruit. A spike almost climbed in the ground blind with us that morning and Dallen was on him for an easy quartering away 20 yard shot but he didn't want a spike and Dallen let him walk. I was impressed and surprised at the same time. There was no way I would have passed on a spike when I was 18, let alone at age 11.

That evening while walking in to get to the blind we spotted the spike again broadside at 150 yards and Dallen passed on him again. That was the only buck Dallen saw on the trip. Thanksgiving morning a little doe came by the blind at 80 yards and Dallen had both a doe and buck tag so I gave him the thumbs up to shoot her. He dropped the hammer on her low and behind the shoulder and she didn't go far. It was an exciting moment for both of us. He had taken his very first deer and I was just a proud father. What a special moment to share with my oldest son.

 

Notice the shirt camo compared to the pants

Notice how Dallen's shirt in Mossy Oak Brush blends in much better than the Break-Up pants.

For more thoughts on camo patterns check out my Camo Pattern Comparison entry.

I went out one evening by myself to scout around for a different location to move the blind for or last day to hunt. I found anther patch of persimmons that were loaded and found a few deer around this area. I was able to sneak in on a little 6 point within bow range but he wasn't what I was looking for to fill my tag with so I let him walk. To bad Dallen wasn't with me.

One of the things that I noticed while I was on this trip was camouflage. Mossy Oak Brush was just amazingly good at blending in with the predominate colors of the area. Mossy Oak Break-Up was just as pretty as it is on the shelf at the sporting goods store but it stuck out just as bad as it does in the open country of the west. It is hard for me to understand why the Brush pattern isn't a very hot selling pattern in Oklahoma and other mid west areas. The next time I take a hunting trip to Oklahoma I will be taking my Brush and Duck Blind camo clothing.

Snow in the Barrel — Clearing Debris from the Barrel in the Field

Barrel Weasel or Bore Snake 243 WSSM Cow Elk Hunt

A Barrel Weasel or Bore Snake work great for clearing debris from you barrel while in the field.

After clearing the snow and ice from my rifle's barrel we later caught up with some cow elk and the 243 WSSM A-Bolt did the job.

While on a cow elk hunt I stumbled and fell when my foot went into a badger hole hidden under the snow. I didn't drop my rifle, but the tip of the barrel went into the snow and packed it full of snow.

The logical first thing to do was just blow the snow out. It sounded like a good idea however with the temperature right at 15 degrees my breath melted some of the snow and the water now froze inside the barrel and chamber. I confirmed this by trying to chamber a round and it wouldn't chamber. After some time and a lot of hot air I was able to clear the barrel and chamber of ice.

The thought occurred to me at the time "What if I got mud in my barrel?" How would I clear a barrel of debris while I am in the field? I really don't want to pack a collapsible cleaning rod with me. I found the answer with a Barrel Weasel or Bore Snake. Just drop the brass tip in from the chamber side then pull the weasel through pulling all the debris out the muzzle of the barrel and you're back hunting. These little barrel cleaners are very lightweight and can stuff into the smallest of pocket in your pack.

I don't use Barrel Weasels for my regular barrel cleaning process when I have my rifle in the man cave at home. But I do really like how small and lightweight they are to carry when I'm hunting and if I get something in the barrel I'm better prepared to clean it out.

Nov. 2010: Although I still carry a Barrel Weasel with me I also do a little preventative maintenance by placing electrical tape across the end of my rifle barrel.

Update October 2014
In 2014 I started using a Neoprene Rifle Jacket and love it. I no longer tape the end of the barrel or mess with scope covers. I use the rifle jacket and the whole rifle is protected from snow, rain and scratches. You can see more thoughts and photos of this product in Dallen's 2014 mule deer hunt.
 

Subcategories

  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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