Published January 07, 2010, 07:38 AM

‘Coyote Classic’ draws several states to western ND hunt

A coyote hunt ranked among the top in the nation, which draws participants from multiple states, opens in Dickinson today.

By: Lisa Call, Dickinson Tribune

A coyote hunt ranked among the top in the nation, which draws participants from multiple states, opens in Dickinson today.

Beginning stages of the Eight Annual North Dakota Coyote Classic begin at the Quality Inn & Suites in Dickinson today, with the hunt spanning two days.

A total of about $16,000 cash and prizes is slated to be doled out.

“I actually already have teams registered for 2011,” said organizer Jamie Olson of Douglas, Wyo. “For a western-style coyote hunt, we’ve got one of the top three or four tournaments in the country.”

This year’s tournament was open to 50 teams and the positions filled a few months ago, however, some cancelations have come through, dropping the number to 47.

Past tournaments, along with this year’s, have drawn hunters from Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Montana.

Terri Thiel, executive director of the Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau, said about 70 percent of tournament participants are from out of town.

Olson anticipates the tournament could have been expanded to about 75 teams this year.

“They have been doing well every single year,” Thiel said.

Olson said coyote tournaments on the east coast, for example, have quite a different format.

The tournament may have 200 to 300 teams and participants sometimes have two months to bring in the most coyotes, with the payout being money pooled together at the beginning of the tournament.

Trapping and snaring are not allowed at the tournament.

“It’s a calling tournament, so you’re going to be going out and trying to mimic the sound of a coyote or mimic the sound of a prey animal,” Olson said.

With a $250 entry fee per team, top participants could see an 80 percent payback at the end of the tournament.

Paid out each night, cash will also be awarded for the largest and smallest coyotes.

While the highest number of coyotes shot throughout the tournament wins top prize, the check-in process is quite intricate.

“There is a lot more that goes into the check-in process,” Olson said. “You don’t just show up and throw your coyotes down and they count them.”

Tournament officials cover all bases in making sure the animals are harvested in accordance with tournament rules, including using a temperature probe to verify the coyote was shot that day, as well as blocking and skinning the coyotes to check for trap and snare marks.

“Occasionally we even do polygraph tests,” Olson said.

The polygraph may be used again this year.

“If somebody shows up in one day and shoots 20 coyotes, I’m a little bit more apt to want them to use a polygraph,” Olson said. “There is no line judge, you don’t have instant replay so you have to take everybody at their word.”

Olson said thus far, no one has failed the polygraph.

Dickinson resident Dale Christman has been participating in the tournament for seven years and has had the same partner each year.

Christman said he and his teammate choose coyote hunting areas based on previous experience hunting other game.

“You just kind of pick the areas you kind of know,” Christman said. “It’s kind of where you can get in for permission.”

Despite the competition, a level of camaraderie exists among teams.

“There is a lot of respect for one another, the better teams,” Christman said.

The tournament, however, is seemingly for the die-hard hunter.

“Hunting coyotes by call in the dead of winter is not for the faint of heart,” Olson said.

For more information, contact the CVB at 701-483-4988.

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