Wolf hunting is not only challenging, but equally fulfilling. So, if you intend to try it out, and you are ready to pack your best Scabbard backpack this hunting season and go for it, here is all you need to know on this topic.
The history of wolf hunting
Wolves are one of the wildlife species that people have always feared. Because of their ferocious nature and aggressive behavior towards ranchers who took up more and more space for their livestock, these animals started to defend their territory brutally.
As a result, the legend of wolves being bloodthirsty animals who attack livestock and people alike have always been part of the image that we have of these animals. For a long time, hunting and killing wolves was encouraged by the authorities and, thus, wolves were labeled as endangered.
In an attempt to combat this situation, in 1995, the FWS officials took steps to reintroduce this animal into national parks such as the Yellowstone Park. However, soon after, the population of wolves in states such as Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming grew at a very fast rate. Even though wolves are still protected by law in more than 48 states, hunters argue that wolf hunting should be legalized to keep the population steady.
In 2019, wolf hunting was only legal in a small number of states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Yet, given that the population of wolves in other areas of the country are not scarce, some argue that hunting should be permitted in other states as well.
The role of wolves in wildlife management
Wolves play an important role in controlling the spread of diseases of the wildlife. Because they often pray on the weaker animals in a herd, wolves can help sanitize the landscape by taking out the sick animals that, if left to live with the herd, can spread diseases.
Perks of wolf hunting
While some consider it counterproductive to hunt wolves after the state spent an impressive amount of money to reintroduce this species, there are some benefits of wolf hunting that many point out.
To start, responsible wolf hunting can keep the number of wolves at a manageable level. This will make it safer for humans, wildlife, and livestock, which is an argument that should be taken into account.
Moreover, it should be mentioned that wolf hunting is a very challenging endeavor. Because wolves are prey animals, they are some of the most difficult species to hunt. To do so efficiently, one has to possess a good understanding of how these animals behave. For instance, in Idaho, in one year, over 30,000 tags that allowed for wolf hunting were sold. Still, at the end of the season, only 1000 wolves were successfully killed.
Another factor that should not be neglected in the fact that a growing wolf population is detrimental to other wildlife species that are hunted by these animals. It has been observed that, in areas where the population of wolves is growing, elk and deer have retreated to areas that are difficult to access. This has made the process of hunting for these species very challenging.
How to hunt wolves
Hunting for wolves takes a lot of stamina and patience, and it is an activity that novice hunters might not succeed in. One of the biggest disadvantages of this endeavor is the fact that, even though wolves hunt at night, the current regulations prohibit wolf hunting during the night.
When it comes to methods, there are two major options one hunter can opt for. For one, you can purchase a tag and keep it with you when you go elk or deer hunting, as there is a chance that you will run into a pack of wolves when you are out in nature.
The second option is to specifically hunt for wolves. This can be even more tricky as baiting is not legal in the US. Howling is one thing that you can try. Still, excessive howling by inexperienced hunters can teach these animals to avoid howling.
Tips and tricks
Because wolves are more reckless during the colder season, you have more chances of successfully hunting these animals when the weather is bad.
Once you shoot and kill a wolf, it is recommended that you stay put, as the pack is very likely to return to that particular area. Therefore, you get a chance of shooting a second one by sticking to the said area. However, if you decide to do so, you have to check the local regulations to make sure that second kills are permitted, as this might not be the case.
Another good tip that is worth keeping in mind is that birds such as ravens or magpies can let you know of the location of a fresh kill and, thus, this can prove helpful when it comes to locating wolves.
Camouflage and gear
Wolves have great eyesight and, consequently, hunters who do not wear camouflage gear are more likely to be spotted. Seasoned hunters advise that, when going wolf hunting, one wears camouflage clothing, as well as masks and gloves. To successfully blend in with the environment, the camo that you wear has to match the surroundings.
In an attempt to cater to the needs of hunters, more and more manufacturers have started to produce high-quality camo clothing. Investing in a high-quality bipod is also recommended as it will provide you with a solid base that will allow you to take a clean shot. Before you buy this type of gear, make sure that the selected unit is suitable to be utilized on uneven terrain.
Moreover, a high-quality pair of binoculars that you can hang around your neck can also come in handy as they will allow you to get a good view of the prey from a safe distance.
Because wolves follow travel patterns, it is recommended that you scout the area looking for their crossings and other travel routes. To do so efficiently, you can use binoculars or a spotting scope that you can use to gloss over the hunt area with ease.
Moreover, remember that wolves tend to travel easy routes. So, a good tip is to watch roads and trails, as these might be the places that these animals frequent. Once you have a wolf in your line of sight, you should only take a shoot if you are 100% sure that the shoot will reach the target. A miscalculated shot will only cause useless harm to the animal.
If you are a novice hunter, you should know that regular vermin calibers are not efficient when it comes to fatally injuring these animals. So, make sure that you bring with you the right gear that can help you get the job done.
While some hunters only aim at shooting large male wolves, it is important to remember that shooting a female wolf is a better strategy, as this will help keep the wolf population in check.
As we have mentioned, wolves are usually active during the night. Because it is illegal to hunt for wolves at night, your next best move is to hunt for them early in the morning or just before dusk. To attract the animals, you should integrate howling into your strategy. However, you should avoid overusing howling, as this might work out against you.
An alternative that you can try is to use elk and calf distress calls, as they might be even more efficient. Moose calls should also work. When you decide to call or to howl, you must do so from an area that provides you with the needed visibility. You should not do so when you are in a depression or a hole where you cannot get a good view of your surroundings.
Tracking wolves can be very challenging and, in most cases, it should be avoided. Even if you find fresh tracks, there is a chance that you are miles away from the wolves that you are tracking. Thus, doing so can prove pointless. Instead, you should select a good location that is safe for you to wait in.
Because wolves feel more comfortable in remote areas, there is a higher chance for a kill if you go deeper into their territory.
Be aware of the regulations
If you do not want to get fined, it is imperative that you read the regulations that are in place before you go hunting. If you go elk hunting in an area where there are wolves, it is best that you also purchase a wolf tag, just in case you get the chance to hunt one.
In the case of wolf hunting, numerous restrictions are still in place, which is why you should be familiarized with them. For instance, baiting, electronic calling, or hunting with dogs are some of the restrictions that you might have to face in your area. This is why being well acquainted with what is legal and illegal when it comes to hunting is very much essential.