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#2869295 - 10/09/15 03:22 AM Wilderness Wolf Hunting
jcs271 Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 11/27/05
Posts: 1482
Loc: Montana Territory

I hiked and coyote hunted all summer and never saw a wolf. The wolves have quickly adapted to being hunted and are much more wary than they were even a few years ago.

The Montana general wolf season has been open for about three weeks and after numerous stands I had not heard so much as a howl. Yesterday morning I decided to mount a bit of an expedition and headed out before daylight to a fairly remote basin. It was still dark when I parked the truck and headed down the trail. When I got to a good spot I let out a short howl, and to my astonishment it was instantly answered by an entire pack of wolves. I was fairly sure I knew where they were so I hustled down a steep trail that would take me to a seasonal (now dry) lake bed. I howled again and was quickly answered by another chorus of howls. The closer I got, the slower I moved. As the trail reaches the lake bed it flattens out and there are some thick bushes along the edge. With winter rapidly approaching most of the leaves had already fallen. I snuck into those bushes and with a clear field of view, sat down and let out a very short howl. Moments later, seven wolves walked out into the short grass from across the basin. It was still a little dark but I could clearly see that there was one very pale wolf in the lead and it was bigger than the others. They were about 150 yards out and slowly working their way across the dry bed towards me. They would frequently stop and sniff at things; a pair were basically playing around and would run and nip at the others. They were completely relaxed. I sat for several minutes watching them continue to come my way. At around 75 yards they basically stalled out. I wanted to see if I could get them in close enough for a potential double so I gave a very quick soft whine. Even though it was soft, they all heard it and instantly looked my way.

I was well hidden, sitting with my elbows on my knees, rifle at the ready, safety off. I had been tracking the big pale wolf in my scope the whole time because I knew that even in the dead calm of morning, one whiff of me on an unseen breeze and they would be gone in an instant. I needed to be ready. They started to move my way again although I could tell they were now more alert and cautious. At about 35 yards I saw the male and another wolf both lift their noses near simultaneously, they all stood still. Fearing that I was busted, I settled the green triangle of my Trijicon scope on the pale wolfs shoulder and pulled the trigger. At the shot I saw the wolf drop but as I cycled the bolt I saw him struggling to stand back up. His front end was down but using his hind legs he would spin in a circle then fall back down, he did this at least twice more. I had seen the other wolves scatter when I fired but I can clearly remember seeing a few hang up 50 to 75 yards out. Unfortunately, my shot was lower than it should have been and instead of killing him instantly, it blew up his left leg below the shoulder and went low across his abdomen. It was a devastating injury that would prove fatal in about 15 seconds but I did not know that at the time and I was determined to shoot him again if he regained his feet. Tracking a wounded wolf in these mountains is not something I ever want to do so I covered him until it was over. Sadly the time that I spent covering the male until he went down gave the others the time they needed to regain their bearings and bolt for the timber. For about half a second I lamented my lost opportunity for a double but that was replaced almost immediately with the incredible excitement of taking a giant male that was obviously the pack leader.

I continued to sit for a minute watching for movement in the woods but they were all gone. It sounds crazy now, but after walking over to the wolf I howled as long and as loud as I possibly could. Several wolves that were now up on the mountain hidden in the trees howled back. We all howled a few more times and then there was silence. I knelt down and examined the pale wolf; his coat was thick in preparation for winter, the body rock solid with little fat. His head was huge and contained a set of very large well worn teeth. This animal was perfectly adapted to not only survive but to actually thrive, in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

After validating my tag, I set up a camera to take some photos. One of the downsides to hunting alone is at picture time. Balancing a camera on my backpack and taking photos by repeatedly resetting the 10 second timer and then running around to get in the frame a couple dozen times gets old fast! But as you all know, a good photo is something that will be shared and treasured for a lifetime. I dug out my reading glasses to confirm that there were at least a few good pictures then gathered up all of my gear.

I was determined to get this regal animal out in one piece for delivery to my taxidermist. My plan was to use my deer drag to get him across the smooth dried grass to the trailhead then load him on a pack frame currently located a ˝ mile away in my truck for the trip back up the mountain. Just pulling him was harder than I would have thought and that was weighing heavy on my mind as I hiked back up for the freighter pack. Once at the truck, I shed my hunting pack, coat, hat and anything else that would weigh me down or cause me to overheat. I hustled back down the trail but eased in the last few hundred yards on the off chance that a wolf might have come back to check on the leader. I sat and watched for a few minutes but nothing had returned.

As I struggled to lash the wolf onto my pack I was already starting to realize that my plan might not work. I soon discovered that I could not lift the pack high enough to put it on; in fact I could barely get it high enough to balance on my slightly bent knee. I tried lying down and wiggling into the pack like an upside down turtle but that did not work either. After 10 minutes of struggling I was at a loss about what to do. I finally had the bright idea to work the pack up to my knee then shove it wolf first into the branches of a small tree. This gave me just enough leverage to support the pack and squirm into the shoulder straps. I could then lean forward and buckle the waist belt. With the pack now on, I realized that the adrenaline rush from earlier was long gone and it was literally all I could do to walk with over 100 pounds on my back. Going very slowly and stopping every few steps I slowly made my way up the trail. I was absolutely determined to make it to the truck and with no other options I pressed on till I reached the top. I decided right then that I will never again attempt a load like that. Not only was the risk of falling great, but at my age so was the risk of injury (or worse). I know now that I was not honest with myself regarding my physical abilities to carry such a load, something that we should all think hard about before getting into something we can’t get ourselves out of. I accept the fact that this type of adventure may someday be the end of me, but until then I will strive to be smarter when “pushing the edge of the envelope”.

Being totally alone in a remote mountain basin 30 miles from civilization and experiencing an event this primal is something few people will ever do or understand. It is also the reason that I am positively obsessed with wilderness predator hunting.

Good Hunting, JCS

Some of my other wolf adventures.....



"saving helpless baby animals, one predator at a time."

"The problem with quoting info from the internet is that you can never be sure it is accurate" Abraham Lincoln

#2869300 - 10/09/15 05:12 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
stanly Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 03/16/09
Posts: 1190
Loc: Alaska
WOW! Congratulations, what an awesome hunt. We will be targeting wolf this winter, if we have one. Bought a new sled last year and it doesn't have one mile on it. What caliber were you using? Thanks for sharing such an incredible story...
When the HOGS show up, somethins gonna DIE!!

#2869325 - 10/09/15 08:24 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
duckstopper Offline
Die Hard Member

Registered: 01/28/09
Posts: 543
Loc: MA
Congratulations on your trophy. Your story about your hunt was top notch, too!

#2869328 - 10/09/15 08:41 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
ToddNE Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 334
Loc: Nebraska
GREAT write-up congrats

#2869352 - 10/09/15 09:57 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: ToddNE]
rob boy Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 11/27/12
Posts: 102
Loc: ND
My hat is off to you. Great story.

#2869353 - 10/09/15 09:59 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
GC Online
PM Junkie

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 16972
Loc: Missouri
Fantastic hunt and pictures!!! Thank you for sharing and congrats on your success.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

#2869358 - 10/09/15 10:08 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
smith1559 Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 12/31/06
Posts: 1932
Loc: berryville,virginia
great story, Congratulations on your wolf. Its a very nice one. Its going to look good mounted.


#2869388 - 10/09/15 11:12 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
atd Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1182
Loc: Miami Beach
Great job! What a beast! IMO you did the right thing covering him-better one than none.

#2869389 - 10/09/15 11:15 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
Dewey NY Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 02/24/12
Posts: 1641
Loc: New York
That's wicked cool... Thank you for sharing your adventure.. That's a beautiful Wolf.. Well done my man, congrats..

#2869390 - 10/09/15 11:15 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
Bail Offline
Die Hard Member

Registered: 01/24/13
Posts: 680
Loc: Kansas
Awesome!! You truly are a lucky man to even get to attempt such a hunt. I hope to someday get that same opportunity and experience those same feeling you portrayed in your story. Congrats and keep at it til the "end".
"I'd rather have it and not need than need it and not have it" Capt. Woodrow F. Call

#2869392 - 10/09/15 11:19 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
Silverfox Offline
Die Hard Member with a vengeance

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 4986
Loc: Williston, ND
Congratulations!!! Your howling skills and patience paid off and you have a fine trophy and lots of good memories. Thanks for sharing your story and the great photos!!!

#2869405 - 10/09/15 11:59 AM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: Silverfox]
tripod3 Offline
PM senior

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 8663
Loc: WA
Very good story and glad you were able to get self portraits.
I can identify how you soon realize that you are testing your limits, and having called in one wolf myself last season makes your recount much more alive and risky.
Can't Have Good Without Bad

#2869423 - 10/09/15 01:00 PM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
Eugene Canterbury Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 11/24/14
Posts: 1141
Loc: AL / WI
Great job, and great write up. Curious if you got a weight on it yet, and what caliber you hunted with? I wonder if it's your 375 ruger again?
"I used some guesswork and unscientifically extrapolated that there is significant support for a blanket ban right now."

#2869426 - 10/09/15 01:13 PM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
hm1996 Offline
PM Junkie

Registered: 07/23/06
Posts: 17073
Loc: S. Texas
Awesome! Great writeup, great pics. Thanks for sharing a great hunt. HOM material for sure.

If what's ahead scares you and what's behind hurts you, look up; He never fails you.

If My people will humble themselves, pray, seek My face & turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven & will forgive their sin & heal their land.

#2869428 - 10/09/15 01:17 PM Re: Wilderness Wolf Hunting [Re: jcs271]
twhitey Offline
Die Hard Member

Registered: 08/03/12
Posts: 514
Loc: MA
Great hunt congrats on your trophy how will you mount him.

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