While organized coyote hunts are taking heat here in Illinois, a similar hunt this month in southwest Virginia went off without a hitch – and a pair of Illinois coyote hunters came close to winning first place in the coyote competition.
In fact, they missed first place by one coyote.
Wayne and Roger Shaw, of Urbana, pulled into Wytheville, Virginia on Jan. 15 with 19 dead coyotes piled in the back of their truck. They had taken the coyotes in central Illinois then made the nine-hour drive to enter the first ever Eastern U.S. Predator Calling Championship.
Competitors are killing nuisance species with no natural predators and out-of-control populations, event organizer James Groseclose said. They cause issues for farmers’ livestock and have wiped out other animal populations, like quail. The rules stipulated that all hunters had to stay east of the Mississippi River and could only hunt between 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15. There was no trapping, use of hunting dogs or collecting roadkill. Otherwise, competitors simply had to follow local laws and bring in as many predators as possible.
The $6,000 grand prize for most coyotes went to Alex Poole and Logan Jones, of Lynchburg, Virginia, who had 20 coyotes.
Other prizes were awarded for the most combined coyotes, bobcats and foxes, as well as the heaviest of each animal.
A total of 300 hunters participated. They each paid a $50 entry fee, which was all given back in prizes.
The organizer said he hopes to make the competition an annual event.
“Our farmers beg us to come out and hunt,” Groseclose said. “They’re going to poison them or trap them. So we’ll come out and shoot what we can.”
As for the Shaws, they are no strangers to coyote hunting or competition. Last January, they finished first in the fifth Annual X Ring Custom Coyote Competition, which featured 73 teams and 146 hunters from across Illinois. X Ring Custom is a gun shop in the central Illinois town of Toledo.