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Tue, Aug. 20

Column | The truth about the MSC’s involvement in coyote hunting contests

Former MSC Government Liaison Jim Jett looks over just some of the prizes that were given out to sportsmen at an annual MSC sponsored Antelope Eaters hunt. (Photo by Don Martin/For The Daily Miner)

Former MSC Government Liaison Jim Jett looks over just some of the prizes that were given out to sportsmen at an annual MSC sponsored Antelope Eaters hunt. (Photo by Don Martin/For The Daily Miner)

When I got the first of several calls from friends, some of whom are members of the Mohave Sportsman Club, I couldn’t believe what they were saying.

They told me that in the Kingman Daily Miner under the Community View section was a column from the MSC President Bill McCune.

What they told me had me questioning what they were saying.

“McCune is saying that the club has never participated in a wildlife killing contest,” the caller said.

So I got the paper and read the column that had been printed and signed by McCune. Remember, I am a life member of the MSC and was the club’s Government Liaison for over a decade. I also served two terms as president of this fine organization.

While most of the letter’s content about the MSC and its activities are indeed factual, it is the first two paragraphs that I and a lot of MSC members and others in this community are concerned about.

McCune started off his letter stating, “Currently the Arizona State Legislature is discussing possible legal action concerning ‘wildlife killing contests.’”

I’m not sure about that statement. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has proposed to make coyote contests illegal, so is that what Mr. McCune is possibly referring?

Everyone I’ve spoken with is not aware of any legislative bills dealing with this particular issue.

Next, McCune wrote, “The Mohave Sportsman Club wishes to make it clear that to our members and our community that we do not and have never participated in any ‘wildlife killing contests.’”

Then he goes on to state, “MSC does coordinate with specific ranch owners and the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a regulated predator control program. This program serves the dual purpose of controlling the number of predators that threaten both the antelope and deer populations and provides AZGFD with specimens for study, allowing them to determine if the predators are carrying any parasites that could be harmful to humans, human pets or other wildlife.”

Wow, I think McCune just described the club’s annual coyote reduction effort called “Antelope Eaters.” The stated purpose of the hunt on the MSC brochure is, “(T)o remove coyotes from prime antelope habitat in northern Arizona.”

Antelope Eaters was started many years by then MSC president Herb Stipe, who said the club needed to help out wildlife populations with specific attention to newborn antelope fawns in northern Arizona by removing coyotes.

And to encourage sportsmen to enter into the effort, the MSC initially offered cash prizes for those sportsmen who brought in the most coyotes.

Subsequently, the MSC Board of Directors decided that cash prizes would no longer be offered based upon the numbers of coyotes a team brought in. We determined that a system where for every coyote brought in would result in a ticket being given to the team would be utilized. You didn’t have to check in a coyote to get a ticket. The teams got a ticket just for being at the check-in, and yes, the teams paid an entry fee.

If their ticket was drawn, the team got a $50 bill, which was to offset the expenses for a team’s participation in the event. Remember these teams spent a lot of money on food, gas and rooms in Seligman. Matter-of-fact, we were told that the Antelope Eaters event brought in more money into the Seligman community than any other tourist event.

It was the only place in Arizona where there was a sign in front of a café that said, “Welcome Coyote Hunters”

The Mohave Sportsman Club gave out not only a sizeable amount of money to lucky participants who had tickets drawn at random, but at one point we gave out thousands of dollars in prizes, too. The prizes were donations by businesses from all over the state, and some were even from out of state businesses.

This event has been going on for over 25 years. Might have even happened this year. I don’t know, as I don’t participate in them anymore. Maybe McCune can answer that question.

Another item of interest is that several years ago, the MSC participated as the host of the World Coyote Calling Championships, where teams from all over America participated in a coyote hunt that featured a payoff in cash in the thousands of dollars.

As to coordinating with specific ranches, I assume McCune is talking about the Big Boquillas Ranch, which was home to the largest population of antelope in a single game management unit in Arizona.

Yes, sportsmen were allowed an, in some cases, encouraged to hunt on the Boquillas. Why? Because in addition to the wildlife that lived there, thousands of cattle lived on the ranch and coyotes do enjoy killing and eating newborn calves. It was a win-win for the ranch and others in northern Arizona where sportsmen hunted.

I’m surprised AZGFD has not disputed what McCune said about coordinating with the department in a “regulated predator control program.” You see, that statement would seem to state the department was sanctioning Antelope Eaters, when in fact it did not.

And if my memory is correct, I suggested the club offer any coyotes taken on the hunt be given to the department’s biologists for the purpose of taking samples to study diseases that could possible threaten the Black-footed ferret transplant program. The department biologists only wanted coyotes taken within the Pica Valley, where the ferret project was ongoing.

Again, to deny that MSC has never been in a predator contest is just wrong. We charged an entry fee, gave out prizes, and did in fact help out wildlife and the livestock on ranches that were hunted.

I’m not sure how or even why McCune would make those statements and have them published. I can only assume that the current board supported the letter and approved its content.

Either way, I think the facts show MSC has been involved in predator hunting contests for many years, and there is nothing illegal or wrong with that.

The only thing wrong is MSC’s president trying to disavow what every sportsman in this community knows.

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