California Boating Card


Jim Niemiec's Blog

Click here for Jim Niemiec's Bio

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Decoy Tactics and gear for ducks, geese
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Mearns' quail make for tough hunt

Prime time to hunt coyotes

BARSTOW - Coyote pelts are in prime condition and now is the time that many varmint hunters head out to the desert, foothills of the High Sierra and over into our neighboring state of Arizona to hunt dogs. With the lack of other game to hunt with long rifles, a coyote hunt is about the only option for serious sportsmen who want to spend time in the field, although a wild hog hunt isn't too bad of a hunt to also consider.

    WON contacted long time varmint hunter Carl Cupp of Pachmayr shooting accessories to get his take on the season and what the prospects are for the next few months.

    "I hunt mostly in northern Arizona where there are good numbers of big coyotes. I have been heading back to the same area for the past 5 years and doing well on each trip afield. There have been times that the dogs just don't show up, but then are other times when we have an opportunity at multiple shots during the course of a long afternoon," said Cupp.

    Cupp went on to tell Western Outdoor News that he hasn't been having too much luck calling coyotes in close enough to shoot and that he has changed his strategy to that of constructing a blind along a travel route to a watering hole.

    "With the population of dogs on the way down due to the ongoing severe drought, it's tough to get a smart coyote to come to a distressed rabbit call from an electronic caller. Seems as if the dogs that are out there have smartened up and are very tentative about their approach to calling. What I do is scout an area around a watering hole, checking for tracks to determine recent activity and the travel routes taken to the water, and then set up a natural looking blind a reasonable distance from the water that will allow for a makeable shot, but still affords the protection of native cover," added Cupp.

    Probably the most popular hunting rifle for coyotes is the .223, as it has enough velocity to get a bullet out to the dog quickly, this varmint rifle is light-weight and the cost of the rifle is within most budgets.

    Cupp's choice for a coyote rifle is his Beretta Tikka T-3. He prefers to shoot a 60-grain V-Max bullet that is custom loaded and travels at 3100 fps. For hunters just getting started in coyote hunting or those that are on a limited budget there is plenty of .223ammo out there that is cheaper.  Maybe the bullet doesn't travel at a high velocity, but a 45 or 50-grain bullet of lead or copper is enough to tumble a coyote in its tracks even at distances up to a couple hundred yards on a well placed shot. Most all varmint hunters are all camoed up when heading out to a stand and that includes having the rifle in a desert pattern, which blends well with the scrub brush and sage. Another rifle that is receiving high marks from varmint hunters is the Howa 1500 that can be economically customized with a stock and tripod.

    The choice of scope is entirely up to the shooter. There are some very fine scopes on the market that lend themselves to providing all that is needed in targeting in on a dog, but many of your more avid coyote hunters will pay a lot of money for a top-end scope to ensure greater light gathering ability and pin-point accuracy on a longer shot. Cupp has put a Zeiss 3x9 scope on his T-3, which he honestly states is a little over kill for a rifle that cost less than the scope, but for him the combo works just fine.

    Although there are many electronic coyote calls on the market and available through mail order catalogs the FOXPRO appears to the choice of many varmint hunters. This hunting editor has hunted over a number of the calls on recent hunts and can attest to their effectiveness at getting a dog to come in, but boy can it get ear-painful noisy when the volume is turned up on a screaming rabbit call.

    Decoys are also effective when teamed up with an electronic or mouth call and the Mojo woodpecker kind of makes the set up come alive by refocusing the attention of a coyote away from a stealth varmint hunter.

    While most varmint callers head out in full camo, it's surprising the number of coyotes, bobcats and fox that are taken as an incidental harvest during a hunt afield. This hunter has shot coyotes that have come in on a turkey decoy and completely ruined the morning set-up, busted dogs in chukar country with Federal Premium #5 shot and also have taken a few coyotes that came down either to get a drink of water or to grab a coot while on a duck hunt in Prado Basin. It is important to be in full camo on serious coyote hunts, have a rifle that is sighted in and staying alert; as a smart coyote will only give you a very, very short window of opportunity for a shot once it has popped out within effective rifle range.

    The Predator Callers of Orange County is an organization of Southland varmint hunters that have monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of every month. The informative meetings are held at Denny's on Edinger Ave., in Huntington Beach. For additional information on this very active club contact Ricky Macey at

****Hunting threatened in Mojave National Preserve - WON has received the following details on the possible closure of the Mojave National Preserve from an update sent out by the NRA- Institute for Legislative Action committee: The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), in concert with the Sierra Club and other anti-hunting organizations, has filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to ban most hunting in the Mojave National Preserve, including rabbits and varmint hunting. What hunting remains for resident game birds, deer and big horn sheep would be restricted. The "Petition for Rulemaking Regarding Hunting in the MNR" blames hunters for the declining population of the desert tortoise. The Commission did not act on a similar petition back in 2003, but the commissioners are expected to consider the CBD's petition during a upcoming meeting. ( Editor's note: in all the years of hunting varmints, quail and chukar in the high desert and many areas of the Mojave National Preserve, I have only seen one desert tortoise, while walking miles and miles of the desert floor.)

WINTER COYOTE WITH A PRIME PELT - Now is the time to head to the desert or foothills of the High Sierra for a chance at shooting a coyote with a prime pelt. Even though population numbers are down due to the severe drought and lack of jackrabbits in the desert, varmint hunters heading out with the right rifle, call and a little knowledge of the area to be hunted, the next couple of  months offer up the best varmint hunting of the year. This coyote was shot with a Browning X-Bolt Varmint Stalker rifle in a .223 Rem. caliber and shot off-hand at a distance of 150 yards near a cattle ranch north of Bishop just prior to a winter storm moving through the valley. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

Reader Comments
Off subject here but just wanted to give you some input about you duck counts column. Wondering why it is so vauge and un specific? Also us as hunters are interested on all of the types of ducks that are shot. Also why is there only sat at wister we as readers want to know what was shot each day, what the average is, and I am sure the amount of readers that have the opprotunity to hunt westmoreland is slim to none, me being a vet down there i know a friend that has a field and have never been able to hunt it. I know that you, Jim are an avid hunter and I am downright dissappointed each week when the report is mailed to my house as i am sure many other people are as well. If you have any questions or need any insight please feel free to contact me anytime. Thanks, Chad
Chad M
Winter coats are definitely in. Shot a nice coyote this last sun. Midmorning, 250 yard shot, Rem 700 in 22-250.
Gino G.
Leave a Comment
* Name:
* Email:
Website (optional):
* Comment:

Advertise with Western Outdoor News
The Longfin Tackle Shop