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WNYS Predator Contest
I'm no different than fellow VHA members... I rejoice upon the arrival of the lastest issue of the VHA magazine. To unwrap it's protective cover and peruse it's literary offerings is always a treat. The articles dealing with calling coyotes are my personal preference. In fact, up until 3 years ago, I had to live vicarously through the exploits of my "calling brothers of the western US". The fact that my area (Western NY) was devoid of any calling contest reduced me to reading about the contest and their results in the VHA. In 2003, that would change...

I decided to host and promote a contest to be held in New York State. Hence, the Western New York State Predator Hunt was born! By monitoring sporting goods store stock and talking to store managers, I knew that predator hunting was gaining popularity. Now, I just had to draw attention to the contest. to appeal to as many sportsmen as possible, I featured two divisions. One is the traditional calling divisions the other is a dogs running division.

For the first two years, the contest received very little exposure. Flyers were distributed to area sports stores and announcements were posted on a couple of then upstart hunting forum boards. I offered 100% cash payout as it was never my intention to profit from the contest. I only wanted to provide the eastern hunters an opportunity to experience a predator hunt.

For the 2005 contest, I really wanted to contest to take flight. It was obvious that changes must be made to attract more hunters. The contest remained 100% cash payout and the cash prizes were awarded to the first two top finishers in the 2 divisions. The next step was to contact area retailers with hope that they could provide some sort of sponsorship. It did not take long to find out that most folks would gladly donate product versus cash. I must admit that it did take some nerve to approach the leaders in the industry to introduce myself and the cause and expect people to give such such valuable offerings on good faith. My apprehension turned to relief with the positive response of the the sponsors. In particular, Mike Dillon of Foxpro Game Callers went above and beyond the "call" of duty as he made numerous contacts for me. As a result, the prize list of the contest grew rapidly and I decided to offer all the donations as door/raffle prizes. By doing so, all the contest participants had a chance at winning a gift even if they were not successful with the wary New York State predators.

The first rate check-in (and after hunt party) location was established and now all I had to do was promote the contest. Since I was still operating with no budget, I had to rely on my flyers which were sent to retailers across the state. Messages were posted on the popular internet hunting forums and I contacted the Rochester Newspaper who ran a timely article on coyote hunting and featured the upcoming contest. The fabled Bark at the Moon Coyote Club website highlighted information on the hunt and featured a link to the contest website. The entry forms poured in and the 3 Annual contest promised to be bigger than ever with 25 2-man calling teams and 8 dog running teams.

The Stage Was Set:

One week prior to the hunt, a massive snow storm blanketed the area with up to 24 inches of snow. On the actual weekend, the forecast was perfect with low wind and no new snow. The temperatures on friday nite were 0 degrees with a Saturday daytime high of 31 degrees. On Saturday night the temp was in the 20's and Sunday the temps soared to 35 degrees and still no wind.
As the hunt started, I wondered how the deep snow pack would affect hunter success.

The Check In:

I arrived at the check-in an hour prior to the 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM alloted time slot. It did not take long for hunters to drive in as well as many, many "spectators". (Don't forget, this is the first contest to get any publicity in this area). The first calling group to arrive pulled 4 coyotes and 1 red fox out of the back of their pick up. Using a point system of 10 points per coyote and 5 points per fox, the totaled 45 points. Several other calling teams who were unsuccessful quickly gathered around the inspect the predators that had just elued them during the 40 hour hunt.

The action picked up as the "dog running groups" pulled into the check-in. The first group displayed 8 coyotes and 1 red fox. It was fun to see the fur continue to arrive as the next group came in with another truckload of fur. To add to the circus like climate, large and small coyotes were put on the scale to determine the heaviest and lightest dogs. The trend continued for the next hour and when the dust settled over 50 predators had been harvested in the 3rd annual contest.

At 5:00 PM, the winners were announced and the cash prizes were awarded. The highly anticipated door prize raffle followed and many hunters were thrilled when their numbers were called. The prize listed included a Foxpro 416b caller with remote and some Dan Thompson calls courtesy of Mike Dillon, a shootin buddy rifle rest from Coyote jakes, Predator Sniper Styx and furtaker calls from Tri State, Optronics Scope Light and a knife sharpener from Gander Mountain, Custom howler from Black Creek Calls, memberships from the VHA, Coming to the Call DVD's from Byron South, A gift certificate from Campbell taxidermy, a gift certificate from Fox Rifles, a spotlight and lighted hat from Biekirch's Ammunition, plus camo hats and assorted videos from the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club.

After the raffle, the entire crowd moved into the restaurant (Flaherty's Three Flags in Macedon) and unwound after a terrific weekend or persuing predators. This social event was highlighted with goumet food and frosty beverage. It proved to be a great opportunity for hunters from all areas of the state to meet,share strategies, and tell stories of success and defeat. It was also nice to meet so many people that had only "known each other" as usernames on popular message boards.

The Results:

DOGS DIVISION

1st Place Jeff Cummings 9 coyotes; 1 fox
2nd Place Darren Roberts 8 coyotes; 1 fox

Calling Division

Matt McDonald & Ed O'Konsky 4 coyotes; 1 fox

In all, 42 coyotes and 5 red fox were killed.

The heaviest coyote was 55 pounds.
The lightese coyote was 17 pounds.

Next Year:

The positive feedback from this contest was overwhelming and next year's contest should prove to be as exciting and rewarding as well. Plans are already in progess for the 4th Annual event. Full details will be available at bucksnorthuntingworld.com








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