Published January 13, 2013, 11:02 PM

Dickinson's Coyote Classic a 'reality check' for new hunters

One of Mother Nature’s most well-known predators — the coyote — became the prey of choice for hunters this weekend, as they scoured southwest North Dakota during the 11th annual North Dakota Coyote Classic in Dickinson.

One of Mother Nature’s most well-known predators — the coyote — became the prey of choice for hunters this weekend, as they scoured southwest North Dakota during the 11th annual North Dakota Coyote Classic in Dickinson.

The three-day tournament, which began Thursday at the Quality Inn and Suites, registers a maximum of 50 teams for the competition and is the largest coyote hunt in the upper Midwest.

“One of the largest tournaments of its type in the U.S., outdoor sports enthusiasts from across the northwest converge in Dickinson to participate,” said Margaret Kessler, who handles the marketing for the event.

The winner of the hunt is determined by the total number of coyotes captured per team.

There were more than $16,000 in cash and prizes to be won during the competition, including prizes to the shooters of the smallest and largest coyotes caught each day.

Posts on fishingbuddy.com indicate that the Dickinson competition is one of the best coyote hunting tournaments around, but it may be a challenge for a novice.

“(The Dickinson competition) is a huge reality check to the guys who think they’re any kind of coyote hunter. Better bring you’re a game,” one blogger warned.

In his eighth year competing in the NDCC, Dickinson hunter John Mack, who has a background in wildlife and fisheries, agreed that the competition is taken seriously by hunters.

“It’s hard fought out here, but this is a highly respected competition and you don’t have to worry about cheating out here,” he said. “It’s competitive, but there are some phenomenal callers in the tournament that people who are new to the competition can learn some new techniques from.”

Mack, who has been hunting since age 12, wasn’t worried about a snowstorm canceling the hunt, though.

“You can hunt in the snow, but it is tougher if there is a lot of wind and snow because the coyotes will hunker down more,” he said. “You really have to work to track them down.”

Hunting events, like the NDCC, are a useful tool to help keep the coyote population at a manageable level, since the animals are known for wreaking havoc on livestock and costing producers millions of dollars in profits every year, said Phil Mastrangelo, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

Mastrangelo said the field staff at his office is called out to about 500 properties a year in order to assist farmers and ranchers with coyote complaints.

He said there is one clear sign when the predator is most likely to be a coyote.

“We have field staff that we send out to the properties to evaluate the situation,” Mastrangelo said. “They ask to see the dead animal and determine the cause of death. Coyotes have a particular method of attacking at the throat, so if we see trauma to the throat it’s a good indication that it was a coyote.”

Mack, who was talking to farmers and ranchers about hunting on their land during the NDCC when he was contacted by The Dickinson Press Thursday, said livestock producers tend to be receptive to requests from hunters to use their land.

“They know that we help to keep the coyote population down, which is good for them since coyotes cause a lot of deprivation to them and their operations,” he said.

Tags: