BY TOM VENESKY
It was 5 a.m. on Saturday, the second day of the Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt hosted by District 9 of the Pennsylvania Trappers Association.

Grasavage knew his hunting partners, Chip Sorber of Dallas and his brother, Jack Sorber, Bradford County, would soon arrive with their pack of Walker hounds to start the chase.

Chip Sorber put his dogs on the track at daybreak, and by 8:30 a.m., Jack Sorber’s gun recoiled on what would be the heaviest of the 23 coyotes taken during the three-day hunt.

“We were hunting day and night with dogs and calling. The weather was bad, the coyotes have been eating well, so everything was against us,” Grasavage said after the male coyote weighed in at 49 pounds. “I didn’t think we were going to get anything. But this feels like we won the Super Bowl.”

The annual coyote hunt culminated on Sunday with a weigh-in and buffet at the Triton Hose Co. in Tunkhannock. The event is used as a fundraiser for District 9’s trapper education school and other educational activities.

Now in its sixth year, the hunt attracted 745 hunters, up from last year’s total of 645, who used calls or dogs to hunt coyotes across eight counties in the northeast. Sorber’s first-place coyote earned him $2,250. The second place coyote was shot by Jeff Cragle in Luzerne County and weighed 47.10 pounds, followed by a Wayne County coyote shot by John Tannines that weighed 40.30 pounds.

The second and third place finishers received $250 each, and every hunter that brought in a coyote was awarded $50.

Last year’s hunt produced 15 coyotes, a figure surpassed this year despite challenging weather conditions.

“There was no snow, it was mild with periods of rain which made it bad for the callers but good for the dogs,” said District 9 member Joe Rusin.

Chip Sorber, who is a professional coyote and bobcat hunting guide, never participated in the hunt before this year.

The coyote harvested by his brother was the largest he has hunted in 25 years.

On Sunday, the trio of hunters went out in the morning to see if they could find another canine.

Instead, Sorber’s dogs treed a bobcat, rounding out an eventful weekend.

“The coyote population is holding steady in this area which made for a fun hunt,” Chip Sorber said.

“We plan on making this hunt a tradition.”

Harvest by county: Lackawanna – 5; Luzerne – 3; Pike – 1; Sullivan – 1; Susquehanna – 3; Wayne – 9; Wyoming – 1.

Full results in chronological order with coyote weight, county in which it was taken and method of hunt:

Friday

Charles Murray, 36.30 lbs. Sullivan, electronic call;
Ronald Sands, 31.25, Wyoming, dogs;
John Krzan, 35.75, Lackawanna, mouth call;
Sam Noone, 31.90, Susquehanna, dogs;
Dave Gelatt, 39.40, Wayne, dogs;
Jack Henderson, 38.05, Wayne, dogs;
John Killian, 36.00, Luzerne, dogs;
Jeff Cragle, 47.10, Luzerne, dogs (Friday’s winner);
Pat Johannes, 37.85, Wayne, dogs;

Saturday

Robert Nagle, 36.85, Pike, electronic call;
Jack Sorber, 49.00, Susquehanna, dogs (Saturday’s winner);
Rich Mason, 31.70, Lackawanna, electronic call;
Robert Brown, 35.80, Lackawanna, dogs;
David Altmiller, 46.20, Lackawanna, dogs;
Tim Gully, 37.95, Susquehanna, dogs;
John Krzan, 40.10, Lackawanna, mouth call;
Jeff Cragle, 33.70, Luzerne, dogs;
Dave Gelatt, 33.75, Wayne, dogs;
Jack Henderson, 36.30, Wayne, dogs;

Sunday

Jack Henderson, 28.55, Wayne, dogs;
Dave Gelatt, 32.35, Wayne, dogs;
Jack Henderson, 42.80, Wayne, dogs;
John Tannines, 40.30, Wayne, dogs (Sunday’s winner).

Nathan Milner also contributed to this story.