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Monday, March 11, 2013

In early coyote hunts, beginners scoring big

Frenchville, Pa. — Carlisle hunter Donn Reid has only been hunting coyotes for three years and had yet to shoot one. Although he carried the high hopes of any hunter in his heart, little did he know what was about to transpire during the early morning hours of Feb. 15.

“My friend Mike Wonders and I had set up around 6 a.m. on a farm in Cumberland County, and we were just waiting for the first light,” Reid said. “Mike started using a mouth call and an electronic call – moments later a coyote came straight in through a harvested field of soybeans, and I shot it with my .22-250 Remington.

“We let the coyote lie where he dropped and Mike switched to a Fox Pro coyote-pup-in-distress call. About 15 minutes later – just like clockwork – a large coyote answered our call and came in at about 50 yards from the right. My shot dropped it in that same field.”

Reid’s two coyotes, weighing 41.056 and 51.21 pounds, were entered in the Mosquito Creek Coyote Hunt – a statewide hunt centered in Clearfield County. The first coyote brought him $122, but the second coyote ended up finishing first (pending polygraph testing on Feb. 23) and earning him the grand prize of $7,880.
Reid plans on sharing the prize money with his two hunting partners – Wonders and Brad Weston – both of Newville.

After celebrating, Reid hopes to have enough money left over to have both coyotes mounted.
Reid was not the only first-time coyote-shooter to score big this winter. Perry Clark, of Dalton, Lackawanna County, took the top spot in the Feb. 8-10 Cresson Community Sportsmen’s Association hunt, with a 44-pound male coyote that he shot in Wyoming County during the early afternoon of Feb. 10.
“We picked up the trail crossing a road at around 7:30, and put our three Running Walkers on it,” Clark explained. “The chase lasted five hours. I saw the coyote five times and missed it on three opportunities before I shot it at 12:30.”

Clark was one of 448 registered hunters who turned in 37 coyotes at the Cresson hunt. His large coyote topped its nearest competitor by 1.3 pounds and earned him $2,000.
“I have been hunting coyotes a long time and this is my first coyote,” Clark noted. Exactly how long has he hunted? “I’d rather not say,” he smiled, “but it has been a long time.”

According to club President Ron Sartori, 3,940 hunters registered for this year’s Mosquito Creek Sportsman hunt making it by far the largest hunt in the state.  Participants turned in 129 coyotes this year– nine more than last year, but nearly 50 less than in 2011. Mosquito Creek’s cash prize package totaled $39,152. Pending validation, Mark Knarr won $4,728 for second place with a 45.35-pound Pike County coyote.

Teresa “Jill” Soliwoda, of Union City, placed third – for $3,152 – with a 45.3-pound coyote. Soliwoda hunted with her boyfriend and a group of 16 other northwestern area dog hunters. She shot two coyotes when they were pushed towards her out of a brushy fence row – both on early Sunday morning, the last day of the Mosquito Creek hunt.  Soliwoda has been hunting coyotes for two years, but these were her first. Tunkhannock hunter Bob Brown earned $7,632 for the heaviest female coyote – 44.75 pounds  – taken in Wyoming County.

According to organization treasurer Ed Price, the District 9 Pennsylvania Trapper’s Association Northeast Regional coyote hunt – the second largest in the state - grew again this year. A record 841 hunters harvested 58 coyotes, also a hunt record. The hunt awarded a $100 prize for each coyote taken during their Feb. 1-3 eight-county hunt. The heaviest coyote each day earned $250, and a 46.95-pound Susquehanna coyote – shot by Tim English, of Frenchville – took the top prize of $2,000.

The results from some of the smaller early winter hunts are also in. Matt Bittner finished first in the St. Clair Tremont hunt, held Jan. 25-27, with a 40.04-pound coyote. During that Johnstown-centered hunt, 76 registered hunters turned in eight coyotes and nine foxes.

That same weekend, Bill Cameron, of Danville, had the top dog in the Promised Land Sportsmen’s hunt – a 40-pound male. It was the heaviest of only three coyotes entered by 56 registered hunters. According to hunt spokesperson Bob Larkin, participation in their hunt was a little off this year because they did not hold a hunt in 2012.

The 107 hunters entering in the Woodcock Valley Sportsmen hunt battled cold, windy and snowy conditions to bag 12 red foxes, 16 gray foxes and zero coyotes in its  Feb. 1-3 predator hunt. According to Deb Riley, club spokesperson, because no coyotes were shot, the club decided to pay out more money to the fox hunters and added extra places in the red and gray fox divisions. The club’s prize package totaled $1,510.
Organizer Galen Baney reported that eight coyotes and 14 foxes (12 red and two gray) were bagged by the 94 registered hunters in the Shaver’s Creek Fire Company hunt, which was held Feb. 8-10.

“This was an odd hunt for us.  Even though it is a statewide hunt, all of the coyotes came from Huntingdon, Centre and Blair counties – and none of them were shot by hunters running dogs,” Baney noted. A 35.3-pound coyote shot by Gary Eberle in Huntingdon County took the top prize.
Only two of the 48 registered hunters were successful at the Pennsylvania State Hunters’ Perry County coyote hunt.

Larry Bennett, of Stewartstown, harvested a Centre County coyote, and Timothy VanHorn, of Nazareth, shot a coyote in Northampton County. Both hunters were using calls and they split the purse of $690.

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