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Wolf Crossings

A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection

Reality Bites 

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Updated 10-06



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The following photos and story are Northern Gray Wolves

More On Wolves Stalking Hunters

Editor Note: Well-known international hunter and booking agent Jack Atcheson, Jr., submitted the following report and photos of a wolf that stalked him and two fellow hunters this past hunting season. He sent us the story after he read our report by Professor Valerius Geist warning hunters about the changing behavior of wild wolves in North America. Geist explained how wolves that appear inquisitive and even docile to humans are actually a sign of grave danger. Atcheson’s report seems to support Geist’s warning. To read Geist’s report click on the link below.

An Important Warning About ‘Tame’ Wolves, by Valerius Geist  {This is an outside link use your back button to return to this web page.}

Wolf Stalks Hunters! – A First-Hand Report

By Jack Atcheson, Jr.

On January 28, 2006, my hunting party was stalked by an adult wolf while we were elk hunting. Outfitter John Cargill and I were accompanying Bob Bushmaker, who had a late bull elk permit for area 362 in the Madison Valley of southwest Montana. It was the second day of Bob’s four-day bull elk hunt. Bob had scouted the area for some weeks before in search of a mature bull elk. We had ridden by horseback, south into the sourthfork of Indian Creek, where we came across the largely devoured carcass of a calf elk. Tracks indicated that the elk had been run into the creek bottom by a large pack of wolves. Wolf tracks were found in profusion throughout the creek bottom. It appeared that the kill was about three to four days old. At the same time, we spotted a large trophy bull elk on the mountainside, grazing. We waited for it to move to its bedding ground to determine if we could stalk it. It was very cold and windy, and the elk fed until 10:30 am.

Since we spotted the elk at about daylight, we decided to build a fire to stay warm. We tied off the animals and while waiting, we were suddenly surprised to see two of our animals bolt and run for several hundred yards. Knowing these animals, we found it unusual that these normally calm animals would react in this manner, particularly in this weather. We retied the animals closer to us and returned to the campfire. Smoke from the fire was blowing north. Bob Bushmaker suddenly blurted out, “There is a wolf!” I have seen wolves throughout North America and Asia over the last 35 years. Most of them were running long before I saw them. I spun around expecting to see this wolf behaving in the normal fashion, but was shocked to see the animal creeping forward, eyes intently focused on us. It had the look of a housecat sneaking up on a robin. It was obviously a full-grown wolf, and it did not have a collar. Its appearance was that of an animal in completely good health.

The wolf advanced in an aggressive manner to exactly 47 yards from the campfire and the three hunters when it finally stopped. John had grabbed a rifle and worked the bolt as the animal’s intentions were highly suspect at the moment. The sound of the bolt working stopped the wolf in his tracks, and his attitude changed considerably. He relaxed to the point he actually sat down and yawned. Bob snapped off a number of photos showing the animal advancing aggressively to the point when it tucked its tail between its legs and slinked away. It retreated about 100 yards and stood for a few more minutes behind a juniper tree before slowly working north away from us. At all times, the riding animals were in full sight, the hunters were in full sight and our fire was in full sight. Also, the wind was full into the wolf’s face.

The wolf was not approaching the carcass. The wolf was directly focused on us three hunters. It seems that this wolf may have been a part of a pack of 10 wolves that had been frequenting this region. I knew that aggressive wolf behavior was not uncommon in this area. In the last several years, two miles to the north, wolves had killed Todd Durham’s dog in front of his toddlers and steers only a few hundred yards from his house. Dave Henderson, ranch manager of the Carroll Ranch, two miles to the south, had lost his dog, a mule and recently a three-year-old colt was bit in the hock. Montana Fish and Game has a full-time observer in this area that we saw every day. The wolf did not attack us and left, but it changed our hunt. We had watched the bull elk that Bob wanted bed down on the mountain above us. Normally, all three of us would have climbed the mountain and tried to take the old bull. But now, John Cargill felt compelled to stay in the valley floor with the three riding animals in fear that, defenseless and tied to a tree, they would end up with the same fate as Todd Durham’s dog, and David Henderson’s dog, mule and three-year-old colt.

If you scoff at the behavior of this wolf, then the next time you walk into your neighbor’s yard and his 15-pound yapper decides to take a notch out of your leg, consider what will go through your mind if you see a 100-pound wolf as it boldly approaches you. – Jack Atcheson, Jr. of Jack Atcheson & Sons (jack.jr@atcheson.com); John Cargill, of Cargill Outfitters (cargill@ironwheel.com); Bob Bushmaker (bob.bushmaker@mse-ta.com )