On the hunt for coyotes

Dave Boron of Drifting entered three coyotes in the Centre County 2015 Liberty Township Coyote Hunt.
Dave Boron of Drifting entered three coyotes in the Centre County 2015 Liberty Township Coyote Hunt. For the CDT

If you are willing to brave the elements, “cabin fever” should not be a problem this winter — just hunt coyotes. The way the weather is going, you might not need to brave any elements, either.

Well over 20 organized predator hunts are scheduled across Pennsylvania during the next three months. This includes the Liberty Township Sportsmen event in March, Centre County’s only hunt, as well as the nearby Shaver’s Creek Volunteer Fire Company hunt, Feb. 5-7.

Hunts begin on Jan. 8, with the Woodcock Valley contest, and end in mid-March with Corydon Township’s 18th annual coyote event. Seven hunts will be held in January, 14 in February and three in March. The biggest weekend is Feb. 19-21, when nine hunts are scheduled.

The Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Club, District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association and the Cresson Community Sportsmen’s Association — the three largest hunts in the state — are keeping their rules and prize structures much the same for 2015. Both Mosquito Creek and District 9 award prizes based entirely on coyote weights, while the Cresson club has been successful incorporating 15 chance drawings into their contest.

Most organized predator events allow hunters to pursue coyotes throughout the entire state, but several have a county-limited reach. Hunting for the United Sportsmen Camp contest is only allowed in two counties, while the Springville Coon Hunters permit hunting in 14 northeastern counties (up from eight last year). The District 9 PA Trappers Association Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt — centered in Tunkhannock — has been very successful with just an eight-county range.

A few contests, such as Ellsworth Sportsmen, Corydon Township and Tubmill Trout Club, encourage hunters from other states to participate. New this year, the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, N.Y., has added three Pennsylvania counties to its popular hunt.

“A lot of Pennsylvania hunters usually enter our contest, but in the past, they had to buy a nonresident license and hunt in New York,” federation president Jack Danchak said. “We would love to have more Pennsylvania hunters, so this year we added Pike, Wayne and Susquehanna counties, in Pennsylvania, to our hunt.”

A total of 525 hunters registered for their hunt last winter.

Deep snow, no snow, high winds, arctic temperatures — there is no doubt that weather affects coyote hunting. Last winter, the deep snow limited hunter access in many areas of the state.

“Dog hunters took the most coyotes in our hunt,” Fred Geer noted, with regard to the Sigel Sportsmen hunt. “Hunters reported that, because of the deep snow, the coyotes were just running up and down creek channels.”

“With the forecast for a warm winter, some hunters are skeptical that there might be no snow for our hunt,” Gene Dodge shared about the United Sportsmen Camp hunt.

Possibly Bill Kalinauskis, chairman of the large Tunkhannock hunt, has the best attitude about the winter weather.

“I don’t put a whole lot of stock in long-range weather forecasts. Nobody knows what the weather will be on Jan. 29, when our hunt begins,” he said. “One thing for sure, the weather will be what it is, and our 700-plus hunters will deal with it.”

Only five hunts allow trapping — Laurel Highlands, Jerome Sportsmen, Corydon Township, Paul’s Trading Post, and, new this year, the Sinnemahoning Sportsmen added trapping to their event.

The Sinnemahoning Sportsmen also made additional changes.

“We tried to include other states, but that didn’t really work for us, so we are going back to where we started,” explained club board member Ron Feidt. “This year’s hunt will include coyotes from just seven counties — Cameron and all of the counties touching Cameron, plus Centre County. One of the purposes of our hunt is to attract people to our part of the state, so we hope that this helps.”

Other hunt changes:

In many cases, the organized hunts make changes based on what their hunters request. After a year’s absence, the Tubmill Trout Club is back in the coyote hunt business, holding their “Lucky Dog” hunt Jan. 29-31. The Charleroi Sportsmen and the State Hunters Organization have added foxes to this year’s hunt. The Charleroi Sportsmen also added an extra “smallest coyote” contest to their hunt. The Laurel Highlands added cash prizes for each animal brought in, and the Springville Coon Hunters are offering extended weigh-in times.

The Ellsworth Sportsmen’s Club normally pays out through separate drawings for male and female coyotes, with at least a $1,000 top prize in each category. This year, they have added an extra $5 “heaviest coyote” contest, and they are also providing a free gun raffle ticket with each hunt entry.

A number of established organized hunts have moved from their usual winter weekend. Be sure to check the list so that you can participate in your favorite hunts or maybe try a new one.

Mark Nale, who lives in the Bald Eagle Valley, is chairman of the board for the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. He can be reached at MarkAngler@aol.com.

2016 Coyote Hunts

▪  Jan. 8-10 — Woodcock Valley Sportsmen’s Club 5th Annual Predator Hunt, James Creek, Huntingdon Co. Hunt the entire state for foxes and coyotes — maximum three of each. Contact Rick Isett at 814-658-3058. Rules and application at http://wvsa.webs.com.

▪  Jan. 22-24 — United Sportsman Camp 271, 14th Annual Coyote Hunt, Huntington Mills, Luzerne/Columbia counties. Hunt the entire state, $1,000 for the heaviest coyote, $500 to 2nd place, and a prize for the smallest coyote, plus daily cash prizes. Gun raffle plus all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast. Contact Gene Dodge at 570-256-3933.

▪  Jan. 22-24 — Springville Coon Hunters 11th 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 each day. Contact Jerry Croasdale at 570-942-6487 or www.endlessmountaincoonhunters.com for more info.

▪  Jan. 22-24 — Paul’s Trading Post 2nd 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 814-945-6504 for more info.

▪  Jan. 29-31 — 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 dinner for participants. Contact William Kalinauskis at 570-942-6895.

▪  Jan. 29-31 — Tubmill Trout Club Lucky Dogs Coyote & Fox Hunt, New Florence, Westmoreland County. Hunt a five-state area — cash prizes awarded by a drawing to 3 successful coyote and 2 successful fox hunters. Contact Lin Gamble at 724-235-9798 or www.tubmilltroutclub.org.

▪  Jan. 29-31 — Jerome Sportsmen 8th 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 814-483-0084 for more information.

▪  Feb. 1-28 — PA State Hunters Organization 11th Annual Coyote and Fox Hunt, Newport, Perry Co. Hunt the entire state — no weighing, equal prize money for all entered coyotes. Contact Keith Tobias at 717-444-7061 or www.pastatehuntersorg.com.

▪  Feb. 5-7 — Cresson Community Sportsman’s Association 10th Annual Coyote and Fox Hunt, Cambria Co. Hunt the entire state — $5000 minimum guaranteed prize money. Prizes for heaviest coyotes, smallest coyotes and several 15 chance drawings, top prize $1000, plus a gun raffle. Contact 814-886-7727 or www.cressonsportsmans.com for more information.

▪  Feb. 5-7 — Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, N.Y., 9th Coyote Hunt. Top prize $2,000, $100 for top female and youth hunters, plus $100 guaranteed for each coyote. Just across the Pennsylvania border — PA hunters hunting in Pike, Wayne or Susquehanna counties welcome, also in NY. Contact Jack Danchak at 845-482-4987 or www.SullivanCountySportsmensFederationNY.com for more information.

▪  Feb. 5-7 — Shaver’s Creek Volunteer Fire Company 19th Annual Coyote Hunt, Huntingdon Co. Hunt the entire state for foxes and coyotes. For more info, 814-667-2018 or www.shaverscreekfire.com.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — St. Clair Tremont Trap & Field Club’s 14th Annual Fox and Coyote Hunt, Johnstown, Cambria County. Hunt the entire state for foxes and coyotes. Note: Fox season ends February 20. Contact Garret Smith at 814-619-5373 or go to www.stclairtremontclub.com.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — Sinnemahoning Sportsmen’s Association 11th Fox & Coyote Hunt, Sinnemahoning, Cameron Co. Hunt or trap six northcentral PA counties — 60% of prize money for heaviest coyote, the remainder divided equally. Contact Robert Bushor at 814-546-2615 or check the club’s Facebook page for more information.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s 25th Annual Coyote Hunt, Frenchville, Clearfield Co. Hunt entire state. Largest prizes – nearly $40,000 paid out last year. Contact 814-263-4510 or www.mosquitocreeksportsmen.com for more info.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — Laurel Highlands Predator Hunt, Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland Co. Hunt or trap the entire state for coyotes, foxes and raccoons. Three places in each category by weight. New this year will be prize tickets given for each harvested animal. Contact Adam Fabian (724-455-5217) or Bruce Knopsnider (724-455-3345) for more information.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — St. Marys Sportsmen 13th Annual Size Doesn’t Matter Coyote Hunt, Elk Co. Hunt the entire state. Contact 814-834-4375 or www.stmaryssportsmen.org for more info.

▪  Feb. 19-21 — 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 (814-752-2485), Bill Fiscus (814-752-2795) or www.sigelsportsmensclub.com.

▪  Feb 19-21 — Colver Sportsmen’s Club Coyote Hunt, Cambria County. Hunt entire state. Top prizes: $500 for heaviest male and female coyotes, plus $250 to the oldest and youngest successful hunters. The largest coyote shot in Cambria County also nets $250. All successful hunters receive money. Contact Bernie Svidergol at 814-749-7415 or visit www.colversports.com

▪  Feb. 19-27 — Ellsworth Sportsmen’s Club 2nd Annual Coyote Hunt, Scenery Hill, Washington County. Hunt 9 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 at least $1000 each. Extra heaviest coyote contest. Contact Chad Strennen at 724-825-2883, Mike Leahman 724-255-4592 or visit www.esc15360.com for more information.

▪  Feb. 20-28 — Port Clinton Fish & Game Association 13th Annual Coyote Hunt, Schuylkill Co. Hunt the entire state — 13 prize winners — maximum of 1 prize per hunter. Call 610-562-4310 or 610-562-4765 for more information or visit www.portclintonfishandgame.com.

▪  Feb. 26-28 — Sullivan County 12th Annual Coyote Hunt, Laporte. Hunt the entire state. Proceeds benefit three fire companies. $3000 guaranteed top prize plus heaviest female and $50 per coyote up to three. Free Sunday lunch for hunters. Contact Daniel Morrison at 570-506-2911 or www.sullivancountycoyotehunt.org to register or for more info.

▪  Feb. 27–Mar. 12 — Charleroi Sportsmen Association Coyote Hunt, Washington County. Equal payout for all coyotes, plus jackpot drawings. Hunt entire state. Free party on the last day. Hunt limited to 250 people. Contact Pete Cupari at 724-640-6555 or www.charleroisportsmen.com for more information.

▪  Mar. 4-6 — Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association 5th 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 Sat. & Sun. Contact Dwight Kline at 814-574-5020 or go to www.libertysportsmen.com.

▪  March 12-13 — Corydon Township 18th Annual Coyote Hunt, McKean County. Hunt all of PA & NY. Top prizes for heaviest coyotes — $500, $250 and $125. 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 814-598-0752 or www.corydontwp.com

— Mark Nale