Challenge, prizes draw sportsmen to coyote hunts
Norman Lewis isn't really what you would call a fan of coyotes, but he does respect them. He'll tell you they're tough, smart, and adaptable.
They proved themselves again last January, when Wind Ridge Sportsmen's Club held its annual coyote hunt. More than 100 hunters registered and about 25 to 30 coyotes were reported seen, but just four were killed.
"It's not like out west where you can call a coyote and he'll come running right over you. That's not going to happen with an eastern coyote," said Lewis, president of the Greene County-based Wind Ridge club. "They've got too much food."
If anything, though, that challenge has helped increase the popularity of coyote hunting. The money to be made doesn't hurt either.
Several coyote hunts are held in the western half of the state every year. In each case,hunters pay to enter the contests. All those who check in with a coyote make money, though, and sometimes a lot of it.
Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association's 2004 hunt, for example, drew 4,192 hunters, 47 of whom bagged a coyote. Forty-four of those hunters got $50 each, while the three winners shared $18,600. First place alone paid out $9,305.
Things will be a little different this year. The pool of prize money will be split into two pots. The hunters with the three biggest coyotes will split one pot, with 50 percent for first place, 30 for second and 20 for third. The second pot will be divided equally among all of the other hunters who bring in a coyote.
"We're still hoping for a first prize of $5,000, at least," said Mosquito Creek president Ron Sartori.
This year, too, the St. Marys Sportsmen's Association and Sigel Sportsmen's Club have timed their coyote hunts to match Mosquito Creek's, with the idea that a hunter pre-registered with all three can enter the same coyote in each and triple his chances of taking home money.
When it comes to getting a coyote, some hunters call them in, others use dogs and some put on coyote drives similar to deer drives.
"A lot of guys really know what they're doing now," Sartori said.
Lewis agreed, but added he's willing to provide novice coyote hunters with some pre-contest advice if they need it. With creatures as wily as coyotes, a little help never hurts.
"We've got so much game, they're multiplying like crazy," Lewis said of the state's coyotes. "But they're tough to get, no question about it."
All those who register a coyote will get an equal share of the prize money. The hunter who bags the heaviest coyote will also win a rifle. Coyotes from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are eligible. To register, call Lewis at 724-428-4813.
The winning coyotes will be determined by the heaviest weight.
Registration forms will be on the club's web site at www.pennswoods.net/~mosquito. They're also available by mail at: Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association, PO Box 218, Frenchville, PA 16836. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Coyotes can come from anywhere in Pennsylvania. Prize money will be divided equally divided among all those who enter a coyote.