By Paul Tosto
I don’t hunt. But when I heard about plans by the DNR to hold Minnesota’s first wolf hunt in decades, my first thought was: That’s going to be one tough prey.
Wolves make their living being smart and fast. Killing them won’t be easy.
“Hunting wolves in the northwest has certainly proven to be a challenge, and will no doubt be difficult in Minnesota as well,” said Jonathan O’Neal, owner of www.huntwolves.com, an Idaho-based website with lots of detail on tracking and killing wolves.
In Idaho’s first wolf season three years ago, the wolf quota was only 220 animals. “Even with that small quota, the season had to be extended several months because of the difficulty sportsmen had hunting wolves, and it ended without the harvest goals being met,” he said.
Last season was better as the state allowed trapping and lengthened the season, “but many hunting zones still closed without the quota being filled.”
Here are some of O’Neal’s recommendations for a good hunt:
Scout heavily for tracks, wolf kills and den sites well in advance of the season to find wolves and try to pin down their home range and travel habits.
Use wolf howlers to locate and call wolves in.
Use prey distress calls (rabbit calls, calf elk cries and fawn bleats) to call wolves in.
Take advantage of every fresh snowfall to make tracking easier.
Minnesota’s wolf population is much larger than Idaho’s, and the DNR here will allow some baiting. But the wolves learn quickly, O’Neal said.
“Wolves will definitely become even more difficult to find the longer they are hunted. They learn quickly and adapt their travel & hunting patterns to minimize human encounters.”
— Paul Tosto