During a conversation earlier this week with Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, I let slip that I failed to apply for a license to hunt wolves in the state this fall.
Truth be told, I forgot. Like many Minnesotans, I wait until the very last moment to buy my deer license and apply for an antlerless tag. So when the deadline rolled around, I focused on that and overlooked the wolf application.
And when I told Johnson what I’d done, he chastised me. In truth, though, I probably wasn’t going to apply for a wolf license anyway. I just figured I didn’t have much of a chance of seeing one within shooting range, and that I had better uses for $34 (the $4 application fee and, if drawn, the $30 license.)
So if I’m sitting in my stand come the first week of November and have to watch a wolf stroll by, shame on me.
But something else from my conversation with Johnson struck me as interesting. And that’s this: People who have a wolf license potentially can find some pretty good opportunities if they’re willing to do a little work. (Or, in some ways, let others do the work for them.)
Johnson, for example, has spoken with several people who go to deer camps and plan to invite folks with a wolf license up for a weekend.
“You are going to find a lot of deer camps and livestock producers who are willing to allow that late-season predator hunter to come in and hunt wolves,” he said.
Depending on how widespread the practice is, there could be some effect on the overall wolf harvest. Because a guy who hunts where wolves are known to be – versus someone who just goes into the woods and hopes to stumble upon one – is going to have better results.
Even so, here’s betting hunters this fall and winter don’t take even half of the 400 wolves available under the quota.
While none of the state’s tribes have indicated they plan to hunt wolves, the possibility exists. And any wolves they say they’ll take would reduce the state quota. So far, DNR officials say, none of the bands have declared a hunt. But if they did say they planned to take 20 wolves, for example (I’m simply pulling that number out of thin air), the DNR would take them at their word and automatically reduce the state quota.