Furbearer Hunting

I never thought I would be interested in furbearers, I don’t wear fur, I’ve never wanted taxidermy in my home or office, and I don’t see furbearers all that often where I live. I’m in a rural area of a rural county in Maryland, they’re around, I just don’t see them that often besides the occasional fox dashing across the road late at night.

The Coyote and the Fox

That all changed when I came home late one night and had a coyote walk right past my driveway following the road. I initially thought it was a dog until I passed it to turn in the driveway. He didn’t seem too scared of humans and kept going, I gave it a couple of minutes before I got out of the car. After that I started carrying a pistol with me when I took the dog out and any other time I was going to be outside on the property for more than a minute. At the end of my street are houses with chickens, down one of the side roads there are farms with goats, pigs, and more chickens, people out here like to let their cats outside. Food is plentiful for coyotes and foxes around here.

On January 14th I decided to get my furbearer permit since it’s $5 per year and it’s good to have should I need to shoot a coyote. On January 31st I came home to a visitor in the neighbors field not 5 feet from my property. This red fox in the photo above just sitting there in the snow. He sat there for a few minutes, let me get a few photos from the car, and then hopped up and left when I got out. I wrote that off as just a neat thing to see and went inside. About 10 minutes later I go into my office/reloading room and see the same fox coming out from behind my shed not 20 yards away from the back of my house.

That fox lead me down the rabbit hole of looking into furbearer hunting, trapping, and taxidermy. I don’t personally have any interest in trapping, nor doing my own taxidermy. However after looking into taxidermy more I now kind of want to get a fox and a coyote mount. I actually opened my office window, yelled at the fox, and it took off. I haven’t seen it since, but it’s been back, it left a bunch of tracks through my front and side yard that night. It was easy to see in the fresh snow that it came out of the woods, walked around my front yard some and then walked right between my two cars to the side yard and off into the neighbors field. I have a 22LR with 36gr hollow points that I’ve been taking out with me when I walk the dog so if I see it on my property I can try and get it.

The fox season ends February 15th and I don’t have a ton of land, so I’m not investing in calls or red lights right now, nor am I just sitting outside waiting for it to show up. If I get a chance I’ll take it, but I would rather use something better than a 22LR hollow point that won’t destroy the fur, but my ammo choices are limited with the current ammo shortage. The 22LR was the best choice based on what I have on hand.

T/C Compass II6.5 CreedmoorFederal Varmint & Predator95gr Hornady® V-Max®
Henry Single Shot / S&W 686+ 4″38Spc / 357Mag Prvi Partizan158gr JHP
Henry Single Shot/ S&W 686+ 4″38Spc / 357MagFederal American Eagle158gr LRN
Various Pistols9mm / 40S&WFederal124gr / 147gr, 180gr HST
AR-15300 BlackoutHandload110gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Chaos
AR-15300 HAM’RHandload110gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Chaos

I didn’t feel comfortable with using some of these rounds and some would do too much damage to the fur. When asking about an appropriate round online someone said to avoid the 110gr bullets as they hit a fox with a 110gr Hornady SST and it decapitated it. The controlled chaos is supposed to break up a lot, but the last thing I want to risk is a fox head rolling across the ground. The 9mm and 40S&W I’d use on a coyote or a fox that posed any actual threat to me or my pets, but not for actual hunting, same with the S&W 686+. While I can use both rounds that it will fire, it’s a short barrel at 4″ and not what I would use for hunting. I also didn’t have any buck shot smaller than 00, so the shotgun isn’t an option. The 22LR is the only gun that currently has something I would consider appropriate for fox available, it’s a Marlin Model 60 with a cheap Simmons scope from Amazon on it, a great little gun that I hardly ever shoot.

Future Plans

Two guns and calibers not mentioned above are my 6.5 Grendel AR-15 and my 5.56 AR-15. The 5.56 would be great… if I had any varmint ammo or bullets that weren’t FMJ. FMJ, tracer, and incendiary rounds are literally the only type of bullets banned for hunting, and all I have for 5.56 is FMJ. It has a 1-4×24 Athlon Talos scope with an illuminated reticle on it. I ordered some 6.5 and 30 cal soft point bullets from Hornady through their Get Loaded 2020 promo since I bought a bunch of dies last year, but I can’t remember if I ordered any of the .224 soft points. If I did, when they show up I’ll be loading some of them up for coyotes.

The 6.5 Grendel is not shooting anything soon. It works fine, but I took the optic off it for the 300 HAM’R and I had several parts on it that I want to change. I want to make it into a dedicated furbearer gun.

Current 6.5 Grendel Build

  • Aero Precision X-15 Lower Receiver
  • Aero Precision Assembled Upper Receiver
  • Aero Precision Lower Parts Kit
  • Aero Precision Buffer Tube Kit
  • Brownells Gas Block
  • Brownells 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group
  • Bear Creek Arsenal 18″ Black Nitride 4150 Steel Contour Barrel, 6.5 Grendel Type II, Mid Length Gas System w/ 1:8 Twist
  • Aero Precision 15″ Quantum Handguard
  • VG6 GAMMA 6.5 Muzzle Break
  • Magpul MOE Stock

That’s not a bad build considering I did it on a budget, but like I said there are a few things that I want to change. The handguard, barrel, trigger, stock, and muzzle break all need to be changed.

6.5 Grendel Build: New Parts

  • Wilson Combat Match Grade Barrel, 6.5 Grendel, Recon Tactical, 16″, 1-8 Twist, Stainless
  • Aero Precision ATLAS R-One 15″ Handguard
  • Dead Air Muzzle Break
  • Magpul PRS Gen 3 or PRS Lite stock
  • TriggerTech Diamond Flat Trigger

The big changes are the stock, trigger, and barrel. I’m going from an 18″ heavy barrel to a Recon Tactical profile 16″ for two reasons, weight and length. I’ve had no issues with Bear Creek barrels, but a 18″ heavy barrel is noticeably heavier than a 16″ heavy barrel like on my 5.56 (also a Bear Creek barrel). Going with the Wilson Combat lets me get a shorter barrel with a lighter profile that knocks off over a pound (18.4oz) from the total weight, all of which is at the front of the gun.

The trigger is changing because I want the adjustability of it and I like flat triggers in my pistols. The mil-spec trigger currently in it works, but isn’t great. The stock is a decision I’m making solely from watching coyote hunting videos. Most of the people using AR’s for it are running PRS or PRS-style stocks. My 6.5 Creedmoor, 22LR, shotgun, and Henry Single Shot do not have adjustable stocks and I like that I don’t have to worry about the LOP being adjusted since I last used them. My 5.56 has a CTR stock so it stays locked where I set it and that would be an option, but I want the cheek riser offered by the PRS stock.

The handguard and muzzle break are less important upgrades. I need to change the muzzle break if I want to use my suppressor with it, but it’s still in NFA jail for a few more months (just passed the 2 month mark at the end of January!). The Quantum handguard sucks. It just does and I only bought them because they and I were cheap. The Grendel is the only rifle that still has a Quantum as I replaced all of the others with ATLAS S-One handguards. Right now the Quantum wouldn’t matter that much because I bought a BOG Deathgrip tripod, but if I’m not using the tripod it just doesn’t provide as good of a grip as the ATLAS handguards do. If I’m taking the whole rifle apart to put in the new parts I might as well change out the handguard while I’m at it.

I mentioned in my last post wanting to buy 10-20 acres of land to live on, with that much land I want to actually actively hunt furbearers, I’ll be able to set up calls and go out to longer ranges. I’m also now thinking of buying more land just for hunting in Dorchester county because they are one of two counties in Maryland that allow year round fox hunting. They have a ton of chicken production in that county so naturally foxes and coyotes are more abundant. I’m thinking 10 acres or so. Dorchester county also is a rifle deer hunting county so I can use firearms other than a shotgun or straight-walled cartridge during firearm season.

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