With the weekend of the third annual Ridgebury Volunteer Fire Company Coyote Hunt fast approaching, and organizers say this year's event is bigger and better than in past years.

Prize amounts are the highest ever for the event, which promises to pay $1,000 for the heaviest coyote caught between March 1 and March 3, said fire company member and organizer Gayle Leonard.

The contest will also award $400 each for the heaviest male and female and a $50 consolation prize for the smallest coyote, according to information from the fire company. No coyotes were caught during last year's hunt, making the higher amounts possible this year, Leonard said.

The event's $35 entry fee includes dinners provided on all three days of the hunt and a ticket for door prizes, Leonard said. Raffles will also be held, and organizers are hoping to pull together a small exposition of displays from area gun and sporting goods stores.

The event, which raised about $2,000 last year for the fire company, has drawn between 30 and 50 participants each year, Leonard said. Individuals and hunting clubs come from as far away as Philadelphia to participate.

While the event is smaller than other area coyote hunts, "we're growing each year," Leonard said.

Participants may start hunting at 12:01 a.m. Friday and can bring coyotes to the fire hall to be weighed between 6 and 8 p.m. March 1 and 2 and from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 3. Prizes will be awarded at 4 p.m. March 3, Leonard said.

Hunters may bring coyotes from any of the surrounding counties in both Pennsylvania and New York, Leonard said. "We weigh them, and we make sure they're a fresh kill," she said.

Some of the hunters use mouth or box calls to attract the coyotes, Leonard said. Others use hunting dogs, and still others track the coyotes themselves. Coyote hunting is "really neat," she said. "It's a really interesting process."

Registrations for the hunt will be accepted until Feb. 22, Leonard said. To register or for more information, call Leonard at (570) 596-2891 or visit the fire company's website at www.ridgeburyfireco.org.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.