Chokes

Choke your shotgun for moving targets

The best choke for coyote hunting is either the modified or full. A predator gun needs a solid, well-filled pattern, about the same pattern you might use for shooting ducks over decoys.  Most of the time, using a thick cover ambush, coyotes are going to be moving targets, and often they'll be partially hidden by brush.  The best ammo will penetrate through to the backside of the ribcage, bust both brush and bone, and not break the bank.

 

Don't brag how tight your pattern is.

Take a hint from the pros who shoot trap and skeet, and use the right choke for the job. An evenly filled pattern and a point of impact that coincides with the point of aim is enough. Pattern is your friend and it helps to overcome the inevitable small mistakes that come with less-than-perfect mount, swing, or aim in hunting situations.

Use an extended choke

An extended knurled choke has many distinct advantages over the alternatives. It protects the barrel steel at the muzzle. These Cabela's/Carlson's chokes add almost an inch to the business end of the barrel. They are easy to remove without a wrench. I recommend that the hunter check his chokes after every stand. It should be snug and clean, not tight, not loose. Then, use that extension as a rest. If it marks up the choke, who cares?  On a stand, rest your gun at your side with the shotgun's muzzle on the ground and relax.

 

Stand up and rest your gun on the ground.

In thick cover, using the hunt theory of the Cameroon waterhole ambush, coyotes can and do approach from all directions.  That means that the hunter has to be ready to shoot in any direction 360 degrees.  Shooting behind you, directly to the rear is something for which almost no hunter is prepared the first time.  Effective shooting 360 degrees takes footwork, practice, and experience.  Visualizing the shot is the best place to start.  It can save you from screwing up the next real coyote stand.

If the target zone is a full circle, starting from a standing position, gun down, if the brush at your back allows, it is usually possible to take a single step while rotating to a firing position and effectively covering most of the 360 degree arc, in a single, quick motion. 

Sitting on a stool, aiming over a bipod at the caller is not the same hunt.  The seated hunter has a very well defined and very different target zone.

Standing up gives the best view, the easiest transition to any shooting angle, the best position to absorb 12 guage recoil, and a good place to start if you have to get after it.

Use an un-ported choke.

Simply put, an un-ported choke is easier on un-protected ears and pushes more noise out front. I wish that were completely true.  Hunting without hearing protection is tough on ears.  Ports send gas and noise to the sides and are louder to both shooters and partners.

Any choke, ported or not, resting on the ground, can pick up dirt.  Plugging it with dirt is an inevitable hazard. A dirt plug won't effect the gun if it's fired.  The dirt just flies with the buckshot.  However, if you tip a plugged gun up and get dirt in the action, it's a minor disaster on a hunt, depending on what it takes to remove dirt from the trigger group.

NEVER REST THE MUZZLE ON YOUR FOOT. NEVER REST THE MUZZLE ON YOUR FOOT.

Extended chokes have long parallel sections and most of the "choke" is actually located in front of the gun barrel's end.  The choke portion of the tube is double thick steel there. That helps protect the barrel steel from the pounding of large loads lead or tungsten shot in a full choke. Use a micrometer and measure your choke periodically. Replace it at the first sign of expansion or sticky threads.

Finally, the theory is that old chokes get the muzzle end scratched up and strip the wad from the shot better.  That might work when there is a wad.