All his life, Bill Kalinauskis has been interested in hunting and trapping.
The director of District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association - which sponsored the annual coyote hunt with 733 hunters this past weekend - explained that he shot his first deer on his family farm when he was 10.
Kalinauskis explained that he was supposed to go to school that day, when he spotted a couple of does on the farm. One stopped nearby and turned away from him.
Using a shotgun loaded with a punkin ball, Kalinauskis shot it in the rear, figuring if he had to chase the animal, it would give him an excuse not to go to school.
Instead, Kalinauskis said, the ball struck the animal in the head, killing it instantly.
When informed of the situation, Kalinauskis’ father congratulated the boy, but told him he still had to go to school.
Kalinauskis continued to hunt until he enlisted in the Navy.
Following his discharge, he spotted a booth set up by the Pennsylvania Trappers Association at the Harford Fairground.
“I decided to go up and see what they did,” Kalinauskis explained. “Everyone was so nice, and it was so interesting, I decided there must be something to it.”
With the help of a friend who was a trapper, Kalinauskis started setting out traps for water animals.
The first animal he bagged was a muskrat, which his friend helped him skin.
Kalinauskis explained that there was still a considerable learning curve from the time he became interested in trapping to the point where he could competently trap live animals.
It took him three years before he caught his first fox.
“There were very few trapping schools back then, so you mostly learned from books or from trappers who showed you what to do,” he explained. “Today, there are more trapping schools and you have students going out and getting foxes and coyotes and other land animals on their first try.”
Kalinauskis said he prefers to catch land trap animals, which includes bobcats, foxes , coyotes and occasionally raccoons. He employs foothold traps, taking target animals for their fur or pelt.
“I love animals,” Kalinauskis explained. “But sometimes, you have to take animals because otherwise there would be too many of them.”
Without trapping and hunting, many species would quickly become overpopulated, creating health and safety hazards in the environment, he explained.
This is one of the benefits of the coyote hunt held this past weekend in Tunkhannock with 733 hunters.
Kalinauskis explained that after retiring from Procter and Gamble, he helped organize it back in 2000 to benefit District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association.
At the time, Pennsylvania’s coyote population had exploded.
Because coyotes are aggressive canines, they will kill any competing species in their territory. The year the first hunt was organized, he noted, coyotes had greatly reduced the state’s fox population, and were also making inroads on the deer population as well. The local hunt, as well coyote hunts in other parts of the state helped to bring the number of coyotes under control.
“We’re the second biggest coyote hunt in Northeast Pennsylvania, and we’re proud of that,” Kalinauskis said.
As the director of District 9, Kalinauskis has also provided educational seminars to youths through the local schools and to the public on trapping and Pennsylvania wildlife.
“It’s my way of returning something to the environment, and my respect for the environment,” Kalinauskis explained. “It also teaches kids to respect the environment as well.”