Shotguns Versus Rifles — a Predator Hunting Exercise


By Randy D. Smith

A simple exercise can demonstrate the value of a shotgun for predator calling. Bring a half-gallon milk jug and a shotgun the next time you go out target shooting with your predator rifle. Set the milk jug 40 yards out. Holding your rifle in an off-hand standing position, take a simple three-second count. Before the counter says three, raise your rifle to your shoulder, acquire the target in your crosshairs, and shoot.

I’ll bet that you miss the milk jug. You might not miss it by far, but you probably will miss. A half-gallon milk jug is roughly the same size as an average coyote’s heart and lung area.

If you want a bit more challenge, place two milk jugs at various distances, say 30 and 40 yards at fairly wide angles from each other. Try to nail the first jug within three seconds and the other jug less than two seconds later.

This is great practice for any hunter, and it is how I trained family members to use cross sticks or bipods for predator calling. You quickly learn the value of keeping the rifle at your shoulder, managing a bolt action and improving scope/sight target acquisition skills.

The exercise is a little bit easier with a semi-auto, but don’t get in the habit of just spraying bullets. Try the exercises three times in a row and see how you do. My guess is that it will take a while to get to the point that you can expect to reliably hit the jugs within the time limits.

Try the same exercises with a shotgun. You will probably nail the milk jugs nearly 100 percent of the time from the beginning. Shotguns are quicker on target at these ranges. Combine that trait with the proper load and choke configurations and shotguns become outstanding short range predator takers.


Read Smith’s entire article, “Predator Shotgun Rx,” in the October 2013 Trapper & Predator issue. A digital version of the issue is available on

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