Shotgun Patterns For Coyote Hunting

How Tight is Too Tight?

What kind of shotgun pattern do you like to see for coyote hunting?  How tight is too tight?  Or is there even any such thing as too tight of a pattern?

Consider these two patterns from a recent testing session with my Benelli M2 using a coyote load with 1-5/8 oz, 131 pellet payload of TSS #4 shot.  Both patterns at 40 yards.

Shotgun pattern number one
TSS Shot Pattern Number One
Shotgun pattern number two
TSS Shot Pattern Number Two

The circle is 10”, the backer is 24” square.  The three numbers that look kind of like a date are the number of hits in the 10” circle, the number of hits on the 24” backer including those in the 10” and the number of pellets in the load.

So, my question is:  Which one of the above shotgun patterns would you would rather hunt coyote with?

I know which one I would rather use and it’s not even a contest. But, you might have a different opinion, for your own reasons?  I posted the same two patterns and asked the same question on the predatormasters forum.  Of the 23 guys that answered, 13 said they wanted pattern number one (the really tight one), but 10 guys said they would rather hunt with pattern number two.

Clearly, there is some room for disagreement!

The proponents of pattern number one basically said that tighter is always better.  No such thing as too tight.  I can’t say any of them are wrong.  They know their situation.

For myself, I’ll take pattern number two for sure.  And it’s not even close!  For my typical conditions, pattern number two just offers better odds than pattern number one does.

Typical shotgun coyote terrain in background
Typical shotgun coyote terrain in background

The coyotes I’m typically shooting at with a shotgun, are more like shooting really big doves than shooting something like turkeys. Jackrabbits are actually the best comparison. They are usually running and zigging and zagging and leaping and ducking through the brush.  It’s low flying wing shooting with targets that change direction a lot.

I think I’d get more bad hits and runners with pattern number one than I will with pattern number two. Having 95 of those pellets in a 10″ circle in pattern number one is extreme over kill.  It shouldn’t take more than maybe a dozen of those pellets hitting the vitals for a clean kill.  And pattern number two will deliver at least that many hits out to  50 yards. While still maintaining a big enough spread at 40 yards to aid me in making hits on coyotes running through the sage brush.  There is little margin for error with pattern number one.

With most shotgun loads for coyote, I’m thrilled to see 25 pellets in a 10″ circle at 40 yards. Pattern #2  has 50 pellets in the 10″ at 40 yards.  And you could draw 10″ circles in different spots around that pattern clear out to the edges and still have 25+ pellets in each of those circles.

So, the way I’m looking at it, pattern number one is only a 10″ circle of death. Pattern number two is a 20″ circle of death.

I’d rather have a 20” circle of death!

What do you think though?  Which pattern would you rather hunt coyote with?


Shotgun patterns for coyote hunting
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Shotgun patterns for coyote hunting
Just how tight do you need a shotgun pattern to be for coyote hunting? Is there such a thing as too tight? The pros and cons of tight patterns for coyotes.
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3 thoughts on “Shotgun Patterns For Coyote Hunting”

    1. I’m not at liberty to share the load data. The guy I bought my TSS shot from, provided me the load data, but on the condition that I not share it with anyone. He will give data to anyone that buys TSS shot from him though.

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