Why hunt wolves?

Tim LesmeisterI was sitting around with some friends recently and the conversation circled around to the first modern Minnesota wolf hunt, which is to take place this fall and winter in the state. Why would anyone want to hunt a wolf? Do you eat them? Are they a menace? With so many people responding to the DNR online questionnaire in a negative manner, why alienate the general public? All good questions. Ones I would expect from non-hunters.

Now I could have spewed talking points about the growing population of the wolves and how hunters are a necessary tool to keep their numbers in check. I could have championed the ethical hunter who carefully follows the guidelines set forth by the DNR to aid them in their quest to manage the expanding population of wolves so they don't become a burden to their habitat. I could have mentioned the prolific nature of these wild animals and the potential for the wolf to expand beyond its boundaries, but that's not the reason I will hunt wolves. I will hunt the wolf because I don't have a problem killing an animal I won't eat, and I see the wolf as the ultimate challenge.

Last October three of us were sitting at a campfire late into the night as the moon illuminated the ripples over Basswood Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Three of our fellow campers had already retired to the tents. We had two dogs along on this excursion and they had been acting very nervous the first couple of days we were there. That night at the campfire we heard a low whine just outside the limits of the light of the fire and both dogs came running from the tents and began to bark in the direction of the noise. I shined my light into the woods and standing about 20 yards away was a wolf, his eyes blazing from the beam of my flashlight. I doubt this wolf cared about the humans sitting around that fire. My guess is the wolf wanted to get up close and personal with our dogs. What surprised me was the lack of fear in that animal. The wolf finally meandered off, but not until it uttered a few growls in an attempt to get the dogs to venture out to it. Neither of our dogs felt compelled to leave the perimeter of safety provided by the camp.

As far as hunting a wolf just for the sake of shooting one, hey, that's what I do with coyotes, prairie dogs, and I have no qualms about pulling the trigger on a feral cat when I'm bird hunting. If I ate everything I killed I would have to buy a couple more freezers for all those prairie dog carcasses.

No, I'm going to shoot that wolf, skin it, and get the hide tanned and hang it on my office wall, right between a bear skin and a silver fox hide. In a few years of hunting wolves I doubt if one will sneak through the shadows of the trees to visit me at my campfire. I don't think non-hunters will understand it, but I do, and for now that's all that counts.

Categories: Tim Lesmeister

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