A full slate of predator hunts is on tap for this winter.
Beginning with the St. Clair Tremont Trap and Field Club hunt on Jan. 25, and ending in late winter with the Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association hunt on March 10, there are two or more organized hunts every weekend. The peak weekend is Feb. 15-17, when six different hunts are held.
Only one event, the Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association Second Annual Coyote Hunt, is hosted in Centre County, from March 8-10. Local hunters can register for the hunt ($10 for members, $15 for non-members) at the club on Feb. 17 and 24, or you can register by visiting their web site. The Liberty hunt includes a “Sportsmen’s Flea Market” the last day of the hunt and a raffle for guns and a custom turkey call made by John Sinclair of Bellefonte.
According to hunt co-chairman Dwight Kline, 101 hunters signed up for last year’s contest and five coyotes were entered, including local winners Kalen Shireckenasc of Mill Hall and Toby Walker of Howard.
Other nearby hunts include the Woodcock Valley Sportsman Club hunt Feb. 1-3, the Shavers Creek Volunteer Fireman hunt Feb. 8-10 and the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s contest Feb. 15-17. Details and contact information for these hunts are found in the list with this column.
Organizers of the District 9 Trappers Association and the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Club, the two largest hunts in the state, are keeping things much the same for 2013, but other clubs are making changes in an attempt to attract more hunters.
“We decided to offer a $1,000 grand prize for the heaviest coyote this year,” noted Dan Morrison, organizer of the Sullivan County hunt. “We also offer a $50 bounty per coyote — up to three per registered hunter. We only had 93 hunters last year, and I’d like to up that.”
Several other organizations are moving in the opposite direction — eliminating coyote weights and spreading out the prize money or having drawings among all successful hunters.
“I talked to some other clubs, and this year we decided to go to giving each successful hunter an equal portion of the prize money, rather than a big prize for the heaviest coyote,” noted Pennsylvania State Hunters Organization treasurer Christine Tobias. “Our hunter numbers were down last year, and we are just trying to figure out what we are doing wrong.”
Charleroi Sportsmen hunt chairman Pete Cupari related that his club also moved away from weights.
“I just got tired of the accusations and arguments over coyote weights. This year, every successful hunter will get an equal share of the prize money,” Cupari said. “We also have a jackpot drawing for everyone entered in the hunt — whether they are successful or not.”
While the Tubmill Trout Club made a move away from weights, it has not done so completely. A few years ago, it sponsored two hunts — one by weight and in the second, “Lucky Dog Hunt,” a drawing was used to determine winners. For last year’s only hunt, they offered cash prizes for the 10 heaviest coyotes. In 2013, the club will award much of the prize money by way of a lottery, drawing six winners from the pool of successful hunters. In addition, cash prizes will be paid out for the heaviest male and female coyotes.
“I hope that this will be a good combination to satisfy the callers and those running dogs,” commented hunt organizer Lin Gamble. “Everyone who enters also gets five chances on three guns, and we have prizes donated by manufacturers. There is also a ‘bounty fund’ for those who don’t win any other prizes.”
Using the polygraph remains costly and controversial. Gamble has decided to reject polygraph tests, saying, “We considered it last year, but decided that we are just not going to get into lie detector tests.”
However, according to club president Devon Tarner, the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Club will continue to use the tests. Last year, one hunter refused to take the test and forfeited a $3,188 prize.
“Registrations are running ahead of 2012, and we are hoping to break the 4000-hunter mark this year,” Tarner said. “We polygraphed four hunters last year and all passed. We plan on doing at least five this year. The test makes our hunt more legitimate and helps to attract hunters.”
Another approach is the one offered by the Woodcock Valley Sportsmen’s Club spokesperson Rick Isett. “We never want to offer enough prize money to make it worth cheating,” he quipped.
One other hunt change is a trend to include foxes as a part of the earlier hunts.
In 2013, the Shavers Creek Volunteer Fire Company will add foxes to their hunt — joining the company of the St. Clair Tremont, Orbisonia Rockhill, Woodcock Valley and Cresson hunts.
2013 Coyote Hunts
United Sportsman Camp 271 11th Annual Coyote Hunt — Huntingdon Mills, Luzerne/Columbia counties. Hunt entire state, $1,000 to the heaviest coyote plus daily cash prizes. Contact Gene Dodge (570-256-3933).
St. Clair Tremont Trap & Field Club’s 11th Annual Fox and Coyote Hunt — Johnstown, Cambria County. Hunt entire state for foxes and coyotes. Contact Matt Gladis (814-525-2260 or www.stclairtremontclub.com).
Promised Land Sportsmen’s Association 2nd Coyote Hunt — Promised Land, Pike County. Hunt entire state. $50 bounty plus prizes for three heaviest coyotes and surprise prizes. Seminars on Jan. 27, free with $25 entry fee. Contact Bob Larkin (570) 263-7043 or www.promisedlandsportemen.org
District 9 PA Trappers Association Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt — Tunkhannock, Wyoming Co., Hunt 8 northeastern counties, $2,000 for heaviest coyote, bonus $250 prizes for heaviest coyote each day and $100 each coyote. Free chicken dinner. Contact William Kalinauskis (570-942-6895).
Orbisonia Rockhill Sportsman’s Association Predator Hunt — Huntingdon Co. Hunt entire state for foxes, crows & coyotes. Coyote, red & gray fox prizes awarded by weight. Contact Rob Smith (814-447-3736).
Woodcock Valley Sportsmen’s Club Predator Hunt — James Creek, Huntingdon Co. Hunt entire state for foxes and coyotes. Contact Rick Isett (814-658-3058). Rules and application at http://wvsc.webs.com
Cresson Community Sportsman’s Association 7th Annual Fox and Coyote Hunt — Cambria Co. Hunt the entire state, $5,000 minimum guaranteed prize money, plus a drawing for $5000 in Fox Pro, Primos and CoyoteLight prizes. (814-886-7727 or www.cressonsportsmans.com).
Shavers Creek Volunteer Fire Company 16th Annual Coyote Hunt — Huntingdon Co. Hunt the entire state for foxes & coyotes. (for more info: 814-667-2018 or www.shaverscreekfire.com).
Clarion County Rod & Gun Club — Knox. Registration and weigh-in at Sportsman’s Outfitters in Knox. Prizes by weight. Contact Randy at 814-797-5253.
Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s 22nd Annual Coyote Hunt — Frenchville, Clearfield Co. Largest prizes — over $39,000 paid out last year. (814-263-4510 or www.mosquitocreeksportsmen.com).
St. Marys 10th Annual Size Doesn’t Matter Coyote Hunt — Elk Co. Hunt the entire state (contact 814-834-4375 or www.stmaryssportsmen.org).
Sigel Sportsmen’s Club Wylie Coyotee Hunt — Jefferson County. Hunt the entire state, size does not matter, one coyote per entry fee, multiple entries permitted. Contact Fred Geer (814-752-2485 or www.sigelsportsmensclub.com).
PA State Hunters Organization 8th Annual Coyote Hunt — Newport, Perry Co. Hunt entire state, no weights, equal prize money for all entered coyotes. Contact Keith Tobias (717-444-7061 or www.pastatehuntersorg.com).
Sinnemahoning Sportsmen’s Association Coyote Hunt — Cameron Co. Hunt PA, NY, WV Ohio and MD, 60 percent of prize money to heaviest coyote, the remainder divided equally. Contact Ray Savel (814-263-4418 or www.sinnemahoning-sportsmen.org).
Warsaw Township Sportsman Association Big Bad Coyote Hunt — Hazen, Jefferson County. Maximum of 3 coyotes per hunter, equal payout for each coyote. Hunters are also entered in for two $300 drawings. Contact Kelley Delp (814-328-2613 or www.warsawsportsmansclub.com)
Port Clinton Fish & Game Association 10th Annual Coyote Hunt — Schuylkill Co. Hunt the entire state, 13 prize winners — one per hunter. Call 610-562-4310 for more information (or email email@example.com or visit www.portclintonfishandgame.com).
Tubmill Trout Club Eastern Championship Big Dog Coyote Hunt — New Florence, Westmoreland County. Hunt a five-state area, large cash prizes awarded by a drawing to 6 successful hunters, plus heaviest male and female coyotes. Contact Lin Gamble (724-235-9798 or www.tubmilltroutclub.org).
Feb. 23–Mar. 9
Charleroi Sportsmen Association Coyote Hunt — Washington County. Equal payout for all coyotes plus a jackpot drawing. Free party on the last day. Contact Pete Cupari (724-640- 6555 or www.charleroisportsmen.com).
Endless Mountain Coon Hunters Coyote Hunt — Springville, Susquehanna County. Hunt only in eight northeastern counties. $2,000 top prize for heaviest coyote. Contact Jerry Croasdale (570-942-6487 or www.endlessmountaincoonhunters.com).
Sullivan County 11th Annual Coyote Hunt — Laporte. Hunt entire state. Proceeds benefit three fire companies. $1,000 guaranteed top prize plus $50 per coyote up to three. Free Sunday lunch for hunters. Contact Daniel Morrison (570-506-2911) or Mildred Fire Co. (www.station58.org).
Indian Mountain Rod & Gun Club 8th Annual Coyote Hunt — Monroe County. Hunt the entire state, no weights, prize money divided evenly. Contact Cliff Haydt (610-681-7937).
Blair County Game, Fish and Forestry Association 6th Annual Coyote Hunt — Altoona, Blair County. No weights, prize money evenly divided among all entered coyotes. Contact Tim Merritts (814-946-9315 or www.blaircountygame.com).
Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association Coyote Hunt — Blanchard, Centre County. All registration money paid out for top three heaviest coyotes, plus heaviest female. Contact Dwight Kline (814- 574-5020 or www.libertysportsmen.com).