Rick Ward has hunted predators for thirty years. It wasn’t until he relocated to an urban area did he consider airguns for pursuing them. “Like most hunters I grew up with an airgun. I took small game asa youngster with several Crosman products,” said Ward. When he moved to Georgia he could heard the coyotes at night but knew his traditional firearm was not an option due to noise and safety concerns. “I met Benjamin Prostaffer Barry Stewart and he introduced me to adult hunting air rifles. After visiting with him several times I chose the Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber PCP rifle,” recaps Ward.
Rick took a few days to sight in and become comfortable with the Marauder. Then he took it beyond the backyard. “I went rabbit hunting to see how it performed on small game. The accuracy and hard hitting impact was well beyond my expectations.”
The rise in ammunition prices, coupled with the cost of fuel to travel to hunting areas well outside his local township, have contributed to the satisfaction of owning a Benjamin air rifle. “I can drive my electric golf cart to a small farm that I have gained access to and because the Marauder is so quiet, my stands are just a few hundred yards apart,” he explains. On one of his first outings with the Marauder, Rick bagged a raccoon and then the golden ticket: a coyote at fifty yards. “I am very impressed with the Marauder .25 and believe it is affordable for most any hunter’s budget,” Ward concluded.
After visiting with Rick we asked him to go into detail about coyote hunting with airguns.
Benjamin: What’s your loadout – calls,decoys, guns, ammunition, gear?
Rick Ward: I use both types of calls: hand calls and I use an electronic call with a remote . This allows me to get the call out away from me and if the e-call malfunctions I would still be able to hunt.
Decoys: I love decoys because in most cases they help hold the animal’s attention, making them a very useful tool when predator hunting. I really like the MOJO Outdoors products they seem to have the best battery life and they operate quieter than others I have used.
Guns: I shoot the Benjamin Marauder in. .25 caliber. It is just the ticket for small game and I have even taken fox and coyotes with well-placed headshots. The Benjamin 27.8 grain pellet seems to work best in the gun. It is a hard hitting pellet for whatever you hunt.
Gear: I have a backpack and it holds everything: my e-call, lights, extra batteries, you name it, it’s in there plus bottled water and snacks. Because I will walk into a lot of places and may cover a couple of miles so it has lot of stuff in it.
Benjamin: What’s your call sequence? What call do you use first, follow up with if it doesn’t work, and what’s your go-to call?
Rick Ward: Wow that is a tough question. Several factors come into play. What time of year is it? Has the property been called before? With an electronic call their are hundreds of sounds that can be downloaded. When selecting the sounds you need to keep in mind that there are three categories: Prey Distress, Canine Distress and Coyote Vocalizations. When selecting a sound to play you need to keep in mind the four triggers: Hunger, Curiosity, Territorial and Parental. Some people play a dieing rabbit sound over and over and on every stand, so much so that the coyotes know the call by name.
Instead, take a moment and think about what you are going to do before you go out. I like to start off with a low mouse squeak or a kitten distress. More times than not a coyote will see you come in. I like to use a jack rabbit distress or snowshoe hare. These work most of the time. But what if the predator is not hungry? I can sometimes trigger a curiosity or parental response with coyote or canine sounds. My go-to sound would be puppies. This will trigger a natural maternal instinct and they will usually come in to see what’s going on. I could do a whole other Q&A on calling predators so I will stop now that I have you scratching your head.
Benjamin: What do you consider the effective range for your Marauder?
Rick Ward: For me, because I hunt mainly predators, I have my gun dead-on at 50 yards. I have taken rabbits at 65 – 75 yards. I am thinking that I read that the air gun guru Jim Chapman has taken prairie dogs at over a 100 yards with his Marauder. I know that the gun is very capable but it is up to the skills of the shooter. “Practice Practice and Practice some more” I believe that you get out of it what you put into it.
Benjamin: Safety tips for urban hunting?
Rick Ward: Always know your surroundings. Scout your hunting grounds and know what is beyond what you are shooting at. And last but not least handle your air rifle as you would any firearm because it can be just as deadly.
Benjamin: Suggestions on gaining access to property?
Rick Ward: If you want to gain access to land be humble and when you go to meet with landowners dress nice; don’t show up in camo with a two-day shadow. Let the landowner know that you have seen coyote activity in or around his property while passing by. And then listen to what he has to say. Don’t throw up all over him about all you know. Just listen. For example a couple of weeks ago I finally got the courage to stop and ask about some property that I have been driving past for several years. I stopped and introduced myself to him and said I have seen several coyote crossing the road and wandering around that field across the road from you and was wondering if you could tell me who owns the property.
“Well I own it this is four hundred acres and I have seen several coyotes out there.”
I am an avoid coyote hunter.
“Well we don’t let people hunt or shoot on our property.”
I understand. I hunt with an airgun that shoots a .25 caliber pellet. “Really?” he said. Yes sir.I am very respectful of the properties that I am on and safety always comes first.
“We do have a lot of coyotes and I need to do something about them.”
He gave me his number and told me to call him the next day. As I thanked him for his time and turned to leave, a coyote ran across the field. I looked back at him and said thanks again. I called him back the next day and he said that as long as I called him before I come over I could give it a try. I have killed two coyotes off of his place. He has now given me keys to the gates and revealed that he had another 160 acres has seen coyotes on that property. Can I hunt that place also I asked? Well ya he said with a chuckle. This has lead me to an additional 400 acres by the landowner next to the 160. Sometimes no does not mean no not ever. It just means no not now.I have over twenty thousand acres to hunt predators within thirty minutes of my home.
Be humble, quick to listen and slow to speak and you will go a long way.