Hunting seasons are winding down, but hunters and trappers can pursue coyotes all winter long. As an added incentive, at least 23 groups are holding organized predator hunts in Pennsylvania, starting this month.
The hunts that offer prizes begin Jan. 20, with five scheduled hunts, and ending on March 11-12, with the Corydon Township hunt — a long-running statewide hunt centered in McKean County. The three biggest weekends for hunts are the five hunts being held Jan. 20-22; three scheduled hunts Feb. 10-12; and Feb. 17-19, when seven hunts are planned.
Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Club, in Frenchville, expects more than 4,000 people to register for this year’s hunt. The club holds the longest-running and, by far, the largest organized hunt in Pennsylvania and the United States. And it is no wonder — last year the club’s prize purse totaled more than $41,000. Hunters entering Mosquito Creek are limited to three coyotes each, and winners must submit to a polygraph test. Six other hunts intentionally piggy-back with Mosquito Creek to take advantage of the large number of people who enter their contest.
“Our advance hunt registrations are running a little bit behind last year, but I’m not concerned,” said Mosquito Creek club president Ron Sartori. “Some years, we start out slowly and then there is a big rush at the end.”
The only hunt located in Centre County will be held by the Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association, beginning March 3 through the final weigh in on March 5. An outdoor sports-oriented flea market is held inside the club at the same time. This will be the fifth year for the Liberty Township event. The club is located along Marsh Creek Road West of Beech Creek.
The long-running Shaver’s Creek Fox and Coyote Hunt, sponsored by the Shavers Creek Volunteer Fire Company in Neffs Mills, will not be held this winter. After 19 years, the organizers decided to call it quits.
“The number of hunters participating has fallen off drastically — only about 65 hunters participated last February,” said Shaver’s Creek hunt organizer Galen Smith. “It just isn’t worth it for us to continue the hunt.”
The on-again, off-again Tubmill Trout Club hunt is again “off” for 2017. According to organizer Lin Gamble, the club will be directing its efforts to fundraising events that are more productive.
As old hunts fold, it seems that new ones spring forward to take their place. New this year are hunts organized by the Rolfe Beagle club in Johnsonburg, Elk County, and the Little Valley Sportsman hunt in Saxton, Bedford County.
The Rolfe Beagle Club hunt (Feb. 17-19) is totally new, while the Little Valley Sportsman held their first hunt last year and hope to expand this year. The Little Valley hunt is scheduled to coincide with the neighboring Woodcock Valley hunt — Jan. 20-22.
After dealing with suspected cheating last winter, the Colver Sportsman’s Club changed their rules. They will no longer offer an extra $250 for coyotes shot in Cambria County. This winter, they offer 50 percent of the prize money for the heaviest coyote and the remainder of the pot will be split evenly among all hunters bringing in coyotes.
The Sullivan County hunt, organized by three volunteer fire companies and centered in Laporte, has lowered its top prize from $3,000 to $2,000, but added a NiteSite scope. They have separate registrations for hunters using dogs or calls and added tamper-proof tags to remove the possibility of the same coyote being entered twice.
In Washington County, the Ellsworth Sportsmen added heaviest female and male coyote categories.
Corydon Township, in McKean County — the last hunt of the winter — added $100 to each of their top prizes, along with a crow category.
The Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, N.Y., added two more Pennsylvania counties to their hunt — Lackawanna and Monroe. This growing contest now allows hunting in New York and five Pennsylvania counties.
There are no early January hunts this winter, and some hunts have moved from their usual time period. Hunters should check with individual hunts before deciding to participate.
Mark Nale, who lives in the Bald Eagle Valley, is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and can be reached at MarkAngler@aol.com.
2017 Coyote Hunts
Jan. 20-22 — Woodcock Valley Sportsmen’s Club sixth annual predator hunt, James Creek, Huntingdon County. Hunt the entire state for foxes and coyotes — maximum of three of each. Contact Rick Isett at 658-3058. Rules and application at http://wvsa.webs.com.
Jan. 20-22 — Little Valley Sportsman — Saxton, Huntingdon County. Hunt the entire state for coyotes and foxes. Contact Chad Ayers at 635-3681 for more information.
Jan. 20-22 — United Sportsman Camp 271 — 15th Annual Coyote Hunt, Huntington Mills, Luzerne/Columbia counties. Hunt the entire state — $1,000 for the heaviest coyote, $500 to second place and $50 for each coyote entered. There is a separate smallest coyote pool, plus daily cash prizes. Gun raffle plus all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast. Contact Nick Wagner at 570-574-0682 or visit www.huntingdonmillssportsmen.com.
Jan. 20-22 — Endless Mountain Coon Hunters 12th annual Coyote & Fox Hunt, Springville, Susquehanna County. Hunt in 14 northeastern counties — $2,000 top prize for heaviest coyote, $50 per coyote turned in. Other prizes including $200 for heaviest coyote each day and separate largest female coyote. Contact Bob at 570-863-5047 or www.endlessmountaincoonhunters.com for more info.
Jan. 20-22 — Paul’s Trading Post third annual Coyote Contest, Kane, McKean County. Trap or hunt the entire state. Prizes paid for top three heaviest coyotes, plus heaviest female. Contact Peggy or Paul King at 945-6504 for more info.
Jan. 27-29 — District 9 PA Trappers Association Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt, Tunkhannock, Wyoming County. Hunt eight northeastern counties — $2,000 for heaviest coyote, bonus $250 prizes for heaviest coyote each day and $100 each coyote. Free dinner for participants. Contact William Kalinauskis at 570-942-6895.
Jan. 27-29 — Jerome Sportsmen ninth annual Adam Deist Memorial Hunt, Somerset County. Hunt or trap the entire state for coyotes, foxes and raccoons. Three places in each category by weight. Contact Paul Deist at 483-0084 for more information.
Feb. 12-19 — Pa. State Hunters Organization 12th annual Coyote and Fox Hunt, Newport, Perry County. Hunt the entire state — no weighing. Fox hunt ends February 18. Equal prize money for all entered coyotes. Contact Keith Tobias at 717-444-7061
Feb. 10-12 — Cresson Community Sportsman’s Association 10th annual Coyote and Fox Hunt, Cambria County. Hunt the entire state — $5,000 minimum guaranteed prize money. Prizes for heaviest coyotes, smallest coyotes and several chance drawings, top prize $1,000. Extra cash prize drawings for foxes turned in Friday and Saturday. Contact 886-7727 or www.cressonsportsmans.com for more information.
Feb. 10-12 — Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, N.Y., 10th Coyote Hunt. Hunting and trapping allowed. Top prize $2,000, plus $200 daily prize for heaviest coyote, $100 for top female and youth hunters, plus $100 guaranteed for each coyote. Registration includes free banquet and gun raffle ticket. Just across the state border — Pennsylvania hunters hunting in Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Wayne or Susquehanna counties welcome, also in N.Y. Contact Jack Danchak at 845-482-4987 or www.sportsmensfederation.com for more information.
Feb 10-12 — St. Clair Tremont Trap and Field Club’s 15th Annual Fox and Coyote Hunt, Johnstown, Cambria County. Hunt the entire state for foxes and coyotes. Contact Garret Smith at 619-5373 or visit the Tremont Club Facebook page.
Feb. 17-19 — Sinnemahoning Sportsmen’s Association 12th Fox & Coyote Hunt, Sinnemahoning, Cameron County. Hunt or trap six northcentral Pennsylvania counties — 60 percent of prize money for heaviest coyote, the remainder divided equally. Fox and heaviest female coyote have separate fees and prize pots. Contact 546-2835 or check the club’s Facebook page for more information.
Feb. 17-19 — Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s 26th annual Coyote Hunt, Frenchville, Clearfield County. Hunt entire state. Largest prizes — more than $41,000 paid out last year. Each hunter is limited to three coyotes. Contact 263-4510 or www.mosqcreek.com for more info.
Feb. 17-19 — Laurel Highlands Predator Hunt, Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County. Hunt or trap the entire state for coyotes, foxes and raccoons. Three places in each category by weight. Prize tickets given for each harvested animal. Contact Adam Fabian at 724-455-5217 for more information.
Feb. 17-19 — St. Marys Sportsmen 14th annual Size Doesn’t Matter Coyote Hunt, Elk County. Hunt the entire state. Total prize package last year $1,341 — $56 per coyote. Contact 834-4375 or www.stmaryssportsmen.org for more info.
Feb. 17-19 — Rolfe Beagle Club 1st Annual Winter Coyote Hunt, Johnsonburg, Elk County. Hunt entire state. Equal payout for all coyotes entered, with the heaviest getting 10 percent more than the others. Contact Chris Double at 964-2961 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Feb. 17-19 — Sigel Sportsmen’s Statewide Winter Coyote Hunt, Jefferson County. Hunt the entire state — size does not matter, one coyote per entry fee, multiple entries permitted. Contact Fred Geer at 752-2485, Bill Fiscus at 752-2795 or www.sigelsportsmensclub.com.
Feb 17-19 — Colver Sportsmen’s Club Coyote Hunt, Cambria County. Hunt entire state. Prizes: 50 percent of the pot for heaviest coyote and the remainder divided evenly among all coyotes entered. All successful hunters receive money. Contact Bernie Svidergol at 749-7415 or visit www.colversports.com
Feb. 17 25 — Ellsworth Sportsmen’s Club third annual Coyote Hunt, Scenery Hill, Washington County. Hunt nine states. Hunters allowed to enter one male and one female coyote — cash prizes by drawing. Entry fee includes gun and cash drawing and an awards banquet. Top prizes are at least $1,000 each. Separate heaviest male and female coyote contests. Contact Chad Strennen at 724-825-2883, Mike Leahman 724-255-4592 or visit www.esc15360.com for more information.
Feb. 11-18 — Port Clinton Fish & Game Association 14th Annual Coyote & Fox Hunt, Schuylkill Co. Hunt the entire state — 13 prize winners — limited to one prize per hunter. Call 610-562-4310 (after 8 p.m.) or 610-562-4765 for more information or visit www.portclintonfishandgame.com.
Feb. 24-26 — Sullivan County 12th Annual Coyote Hunt, Laporte. Hunt the entire state. Proceeds benefit three fire companies. $2,000 guaranteed top prize plus heaviest female and $50 per coyote up to three. Separate registration for hunters using dogs or calls. Free Sunday lunch for hunters. Contact Daniel Morrison at 570-506-2911 or www.sullivancountycoyotehunt.org to register or for more info.
March 3-5 — Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association fifth annual Coyote Hunt, Blanchard, Centre County. Half of the registration money paid out for top three heaviest coyotes, with the other half divided equally per number of coyotes entered — plus separate heaviest female contest. Flea market Saturday and Sunday. Contact Dwight Kline at 574-5020 or go to www.libertysportsmen.com.
March 11-12 — Corydon Township 18th annual Coyote Hunt, McKean County. Hunt in any state. Top prizes for heaviest coyotes — $600, $350 and $225. Heaviest female added this year. Party with door prizes on the last day of the hunt. Proceeds benefit volunteer fire company. Contact Chris Cobb at 598-0752 or watch for updates on the Corydon Township Volunteer Fire Company website.