EXTRA BENEFIT: The Eagle Coyote Club held its annual farmers’ appreciation dinner Saturday evening at the Elmwood Fire Hall.  To offer support to the area’s volunteer fire and rescue departments, a boot was set out for free will donations.  David and Kyler McCoy add their support to the collection. (Photo by Sara Dreamer)

ELMWOOD – Members of the Eagle Coyote Club gathered once again Saturday evening to say thanks to area landowners who let them exercise their wintertime hobby.

The Eagle Coyote Club held an appreciation dinner at the Elmwood Fire Hall. Club President Derek Dreamer of Alvo said this has become an annual event and is intended to offer appreciation to the farmers who let the 30-member club use their land for coyote hunts.

It is also a chance to recognize the successes from the previous winter and acknowledge the scholarships that are handed out to graduating seniors.

Dreamer said the club uses the sale of the furs and membership dues to offer scholarships to students at Waverly High School, Elmwood-Murdock High School and Palmyra High School.

Usually, one scholarship is awarded to a graduating student at each school. This year, however, a few more were awarded.

The board decided that children of club members would automatically qualify for a scholarship. He said it just so happened that several members had graduates this year.

“We had three daughters of club members who were graduating from Waverly. So, we awarded four scholarship,” Dreamer said.

Selecting the scholarship to non-member seniors at Waverly was not an easy task this year.

“We had 58 applications to go through,” he said.

It was a tough, but somewhat enjoyable task for the group.

The application process involved having the students write about outdoor experiences with their family.

“It’s kind of neat to hear their stories,” Dreamer added.

This year’s recipients from Waverly were Tessa Johnson, Kayla Blake, Brienna Knickerbocker and Brianna Gable. Recipient from Palmyra was Abbie Frazee and from Elmwood-Murdock Austin Hawks.

These three schools were chosen because they fall within the group’s hunt area and is where the majority of the members are from.

The Eagle Coyote Club just started the scholarship program last year, but the club’s beginnings goes back many decades.

Dreamer said he was not sure of the exact year the group got started, but it probably was in the 1960s or 1970s.

“A lot of the old-timers we had back then are no longer with us,” he said.

The core group of “old-timers” were from Eagle, which is how the club’s name came about. But now, the membership comes from many communities, including Waverly, Alvo, Palmyra and Syracuse and the group schedules hunts in Cass, Lancaster and Otoe counties.

All hunt activity takes place during the winter months.

“When the ground freezes is when we start to go. Every winter is different,” Dreamer said.

It is important to wait until the ground is frozen, he said, so the vehicles do not tear up farmers’ fields.

Snow on the ground sometimes helps and hinders the Coyote Club. Last year, for example, the snow got too deep and club members were not able to schedule as many hunts as they have liked.

Still, the members got a total of 80 coyotes. That was only about 10 less than the previous year and 10 more than three years ago.

“It’s hit and miss,” Dreamer added. “Every year is different. It depends on the weather and how many weeks we have to go out.”

For last weekend’s ap-

preciation dinner, Dreamer prepared a map showing the locations of where coyotes were taken this past winter.

He said it is fun for the members to see, and the farmers get to take a little ownership in the hunt that way too.

Dreamer emphasized safety is always important during the group’s winter adventures. Before becoming a member, ride-a-longs are required and gun safety is a part of the activity.

Being respectful of other people’s property is also important, he added.

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