One of the largest coyote hunts in the country will be held this weekend by the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen Club in Frenchville, Pa.
This hunt is celebrating its 30th year and has become a popular wintertime activity for many. Cash prizes are awarded for each coyote harvested with emphasis placed on the heaviest three and heaviest female.
Hunters have one last chance to enter the hunt at the clubhouse on the 18th from noon until 11:59. Last year the first-prize coyote and heaviest female each paid out nearly $10,000.
A variety of wintry precipitation this month has rendered many of the no winter maintenance roads all but impossible. Simply finding a place to pull off the road can be difficult and is best when done with some strategy.
Often I will back slightly uphill off the road, that way if traction is lost, the ruts made and vehicle pointing downhill allow for a better chance of escape.
When traversing the less desirable roadways, it is a nice piece of mind to have some recovery gear on hand if needed. A metal shovel that is capable of digging through ice at times can be all that is needed to escape a snow drift.
Chain, straps or tow rope should be on hand as the chances of a passerby having such gear is slim. Extra clothing should be in the vehicle along with some food and water as these types of roadways see little traffic at this time of year. Quite often, cellphone service can be spotty in the remote areas where the roads deteriorate making a bad situation worse. It is best to be equipped to get yourself unstuck as it could be hours before someone can be contacted. Despite the hazards involved in enjoying the remote sections of the state, with some caution and preparation,it is still possible.
Deer enthusiasts are just beginning to find the first shed antlers of the year, although the better hunting will come in March.
Now is the perfect time to locate where deer are focusing their feeding efforts.
Spotting buck with antlers still intact is another advantage to scouting the herds movements. Finding a buck will make finding a shed antler or perhaps even a matched set much more achievable.
Once a wintertime food source is found, a shed hunter will have good chances of returning when the snow is gone and finding a few antlers. Quite often the wind will expose the ground or significantly reduce the snow depth on the high spots in an agricultural field. Exploring a feeding area should be done during midday so as to not stress the deer or push them away from the food source.
Tracks and pawed away snow will indicate where the deer are focusing the majority of their time. The current snow conditions are hard on all wildlife and unnecessary disturbance should be avoided if possible.
The current ammunition shortage is saddening, yet from what I have seen, there are still plenty of turkey loads available for the upcoming season.
Checking your inventory of ammo now, should allow time to obtain a few boxes of shotgun shells if needed.
Patterning a shotgun can teach a hunter much about their weapon, with chokes and loads all performing differently.
For those who do not shoot their shotgun year round, a practice session or two could help fine tune the mechanics, improve accuracy and instill confidence.
Youth hunters should be practicing with dove loads regularly so that they are prepared for the shot this spring. Shooting plastic jugs filled with water, tin cans or rotten fruit will give them a better understanding of the consequences involved with unsafe gun handling.