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Coyotes nearly skunk hunters

March 07, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

FORT LOUDON, PA. - The coyotes did indeed prove to be wily this past weekend, outfoxing all but one of the 187 hunters that took part in the first hunt for the wild canines sponsored by Keystone Country Store.

Brad Beck and his 12-year-old son, Mason, came in empty-handed Sunday afternoon to see if anyone else had bagged one of the elusive eastern coyotes by the 2 p.m. deadline.

While he and his son were wearing sweatshirts indicating they had taken part in the annual Mosquito Creek Sportsmans Club hunt a few weeks ago in Frenchville, Pa., Brad Beck of Fayetteville, Pa., said he once spoke to a Canadian outfitter who likened hunting coyotes to "trying to hunt an animal that's smarter than your dog."

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"Have you ever tried to hide from your dog and not have it find you?" he said the man asked him.

The one hunter who successfully hid from a coyote until it was within rifle shot was Charles R. Souders of Marion, Pa., according to William Zeger, co-owner of Keystone Country Store.

Souders was in Bedford County when he brought down a male with a .22-magnum Saturday morning, Zeger said. The animal weighed 36 pounds, 7 ounces, he said.

For that kill, Souders was the winner of the first prize of $467.50, half the money brought in by the $5 registration feed paid by hunters.

Souders' coyote was not the only one brought into the store during the week, Zeger said. One man brought in an animal topping 37 pounds and another group brought in three coyotes, but that was before the contest started on Friday, he said.

There are 25,000 to 30,000 coyotes in Pennsylvania, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates. Zeger said there is no season for the coyotes and they can be hunted all year.

The rules for the hunt were simple, he said. The coyotes had to be fresh kills and had to be taken with a firearm, he said.

The contest was open to hunters in other states, he said.

"We wanted to give people an excuse to go out and have some fun and maybe kill a couple of coyotes," he said.

"We're going to get one sooner or later," said Brad Beck, who has gone coyote hunting for six years. He and his son showed an array of mouth and electronic calls to simulate a coyote's howl or the distress calls of several animals.

"I think the wind is the biggest thing," Mason said, referring to the need to keep downwind of the coyotes and their keen sense of smell.

It might not have helped that one of their companions wore cologne and overalls dried next to a kerosene heater, Brad Beck said.

As the deadline passed, a pickup truck pulled up alongside the Becks. The passenger leaned his head out and asked if they had any luck.

"I got one that was about 180 pounds, but everybody said it was a Saint Bernard," the man said before the truck drove away.

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