Records smashed at big coyote hunt

 Frenchville, Pa. – The biggest coyote hunt in the east lived up
to its expectations once again as hunters broke several records
during the Feb. 22-24 event. 

Nearly 4,000 registered hunters competed for the largest
combined purse ever offered during the hunt, bringing in a record
number of coyotes. Participants brought their trophies from a wider
variety of counties than ever before.

“The snow that we thought would hinder the harvest during the
first day of the hunt became the contest’s biggest blessing,” said
Devon Tarner, spokesman for the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Club
hunt. “The hunters could easily spot fresh tracks, which greatly
improved success.”

The hunt started out more slowly than usual, with only a dozen
coyotes entered by Friday evening. Things picked up a little on
Saturday, but hunters brought in more coyotes on Sunday morning
than ever before. Although new coyotes were no longer accepted
after noon on Feb. 24, by 12 o’clock, hunters – already checked in,
but waiting in line to have their coyotes processed – stretched
across the club parking lot. Judges were not finished weighing
coyotes until well after 1 p.m.  

“Isn’t this just amazing?” exclaimed Mosquito Creek Sportsmen
Club President Lew Mararra, as he looked out across the parking
lot. “I’ve never seen so many coyotes.” 

By the time processing was completed, 177 coyotes had been
entered by the 3,989 registered hunters. 

The Mosquito Creek hunt’s previous high had been set in 2005,
when 102 coyotes were entered. This year’s total more than doubled
last year’s 78 coyotes. 

The coyotes came from all over Pennsylvania, with a record
number of 38 counties represented. The hunt’s previous high was 35
counties, also set in 2005. Coyotes entered in last year’s hunt
came from 33 counties.

Ed Hall, of Julian, had been close to getting a coyote several
times during the 10 previous Mosquito Creek hunts that he had
entered. He was out there again this year, hunting from his Centre
County camp. Hall was fortunate enough to call in one coyote just a
little after noon on the second day of the hunt.

“I called it in, but I wasn’t able to get a shot. I was mad, I
just thought, here we go again – another missed opportunity,” said
Hall. “I never thought I’d call in a second coyote during the hunt,
but my homemade mouth call attracted another one at 5:15.” 

One shot from his .22-250 brought down the predator, and Hall
had broken his coyote drought.

“It was pretty sweet,” said Hall. “There is nothing like calling
in a coyote with a call that you made yourself.”

Hall entered coyote number 100 and received $90.40 for his
non-winning entry. 

As the hunt deadline approached, many hunt regulars were
anticipating the arrival of Chris Haines and his usually-successful
crew of coyote hunters.

Last year, Haines brought in a 47.3-pound male just before noon
on the last day and won the contest. Haines’ group did arrive with
11 Mercer County coyotes, bagged by Haines and three other hunters
in his party.

“The big one got away this year, so I guess that so far he’s
smarter than us,” said Haines.

This year’s first-place winner was Brian Weidner, of Easton. 
Weidner shot his 50.17-pound male at 5 p.m. Feb. 23. 

“Our group of hunters enter the hunt every year and are usually
successful, including three coyotes entered last year.  Although
I’ve never placed before, hunters from our group have placed second
twice and we had a first place during previous Mosquito Creek
hunts,” said Weidner. 

“We were hunting an area of Bradford County that is mainly
farmland with small woodlots.  Good road access makes it easy for
us to get in front of our dogs.” 

Their group hunts with American foxhounds, and they entered six
coyotes in this year’s contest. Weidner received $8,090 for his
prize.

Nick Laversen, of Hawley, called and then shot the second- place
coyote at 10:30 a.m. on the second day of the hunt. His 47.85-pound
male came from Wayne County and netted Laversen $5,090.

Aaron Damcott, from Clymer, N.Y., entered coyote No. 58 in the
hunt – a 46.1-pound male.  At one point, his Warren County coyote
was in second place, but it was later pushed into third by
Laversen’s predator. Finishing third in this year’s contest netted
Damcott $3,090.

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