Steve Frye | Mossy Oak ProStaff
I enjoy hunting predators, but I also know its benefits for increasing the amount of wildlife on properties. I do most of my predator hunting on public lands. Up until five or six years ago, I was about the only one around my area who hunted public lands for predators. But then central Pennsylvania started conducting a large predator hunt for money, and today during that time, you can hardly go into the woods without hearing a dying rabbit call.
Last year about 4,000 – 5,000 people registered for this predator hunt, which was only for coyotes. You can take the coyotes by calling or hunting them with hounds. The money taken in goes to first, second and third place winners, the heaviest female coyote division, and the rest of the money is divided out according to the number of coyotes brought in. Last year hunters brought in 210 coyotes, which worked out to be $86 per coyote paid to the successful hunters. The top money winner won about $8,000 for first place, and the entry fee was only about $20.
Although thousands of hunters enter this contest, the hunters usually fall into one or two groups. The large group of hunters just go out and hope to take a coyote. The smaller group are true coyote hunters who know the animals, understand how and when to use which calls and are very effective in taking coyotes. We also have a group of hunters who come here from other parts of the state, and they don’t typically hunt coyotes. But they enjoy entering the contest and being a part of the hunt. Also some of them have deer camps in this region or have friends here and enter for those reasons. The hunt is conducted on both public and private lands, but you must have permission from the landowner if you’re hunting on private land.
For 17 years, I worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as a deputy wildlife conservation officer, mainly involved in law enforcement. So, I spent almost all deer season during archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons working wildlife enforcement to protect the resources. I wanted to find some type of hunting I could do when not as many people were in the woods and when my hunting wouldn’t interfere with my day job. If I did take a day off to go deer hunting, often I’d see a wildlife violation, and then I’d have to give up my day of deer hunting to deal with the wildlife violation. So, I discovered that by predator hunting at night, I could be in the woods with no one else around and actually devote my time to hunting.
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.