Steve Frye | Mossy Oak ProStaff
One of the farms I hunt raises chukars for one of the local hunt clubs. These chukar farmers hate having foxes around their chukar pens. So, I’ll go in and hunt the foxes at night to help the farmers protect their chukar crop. So many foxes are around the chukar pens that I can go out and sit in a field, let the chukars do the calling and take foxes. I try to get permission from as many farms as possible to come in and do predator control for them. The farmer has me getting rid of the predators, and then I’ve got plenty of places to hunt predators – a plan that works out well for me and the landowner.
When I include the public game lands and the private farms where I have permission to predator hunt, I probably have between 100,000 and 150,000 acres where I can hunt predators. On public lands, hunters can take coyotes 365 days per year in Pennsylvania. We can’t use thermal or night vision here for predator hunting, but we can use hand-held and/or portable lights at night. To hunt coyotes, you just need a general hunting license. But to hunt predators during deer season, you also must have a fur takers license. Our fox season runs from the weekend nearest to the 20th of October until the weekend closest to the 20th of February each year. Raccoon and possum seasons run concurrent with fox season.
Over the last 5-6 years, we’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of predator hunters hunting on Pennsylvania’s public lands. I think some of this interest is due to the number of TV shows devoted to predator hunting. But not as many people I talk to are as concerned about hunting predators to help manage deer and turkeys as you may think. Too, one of the growths we’ve seen in predator hunting are the sportsmen’s clubs that today set up predator hunts in between deer and turkey seasons. These hunters are mainly taking foxes and coyotes.
Steve Frye of Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania, has been involved in the Mossy Oak GameKeepers program for two years and owns 17 acres. Frye hunts public lands and works for the Pennsylvania Game Commission where he’s implemented GameKeepers practices on public lands. Frye is part of the food and cover crew for Centre County, Pennsylvania.