The legal battles over hunting wolves seem to be a thing of the past, at least for now. Despite the question mark on lawsuits, wolves are still preying on game and livestock with fervor. In short, it’s time to get serious about hunting wolves in the lower 48, west of Mississippi anyway. Idaho and Montana have seasons in place and if the crystal ball is correct, Wyoming should be online soon.
Before you look for Little Red Riding Hood’s stalker there are a few things to consider. First, wolves are big. A big coyote may weigh in at 40 pounds and be all your .204 Ruger wants to handle. A big wolf, especially the Alberta breed running the Rockies, could tip the scales at 100 pounds and more if it just dined on an elk calf. You might want to consider a bigger bullet, such as a deer caliber.
You’re .22-250 Rem., will work, but a better choice might be the .243 Win., .25-06 Rem., or the 6.5 Creedmoor. Any caliber of this power and up is perfect medicine for a tough wolf. Customize the caliber to a bullet that minimizes pelt damage and you should be ready for a new rug. And since wolves are truly pack animals you should consider a rifle (or shotgun) with a magazine. I have nothing against single shots and I know several hunters who can shoot them with speedy efficiency. I hunt with a T/C Encore Pro Hunter all the time, but a bolt action or semiautomatic might be a better choice to dump both the alpha male and female.
Hunting strategy differs depending on the environment hunted, but simply purchasing a tag and carrying it during a big-game season is a great way to start. If you plan on hunting a wolf-rich western state then have a wolf tag in your pocket. Someone has to win the wolf lottery and you can’t do it without purchasing a wolf lottery ticket in the form of a hunting permit. Guess what, you’ll be hunting the same big-game species as a wolf so if you put yourself in an area harboring big-game densities you may have a wolf cross through your crosshairs.
As you focus your wolf hunting you’ll want to consider calls. Like coyotes, wolves respond to a variety of distress calls. Although the smaller calls work, especially favorites like the cottontail or jackrabbit, a bigger meal might be more inviting to a pack. Cow elk, fawn deer, goat, piglet and the likes provide a bigger bounty for wolves and should be mixed in to see what piques a wolf’s interest more, hasenpfeffer or baby back ribs. Setups are similar, but remember, unlike a coyote that may come in as a single or a pair; wolves could roll in as one, big, bad gang.
Also like coyotes, you can howl in a wolf, but the howl of a wolf is much deeper and without the yipping that often accompanies a coyote clan. Bugling Bull Calls (www.buglingbull.com) makes the Alpha Wolf Howler. You can also play around with various diaphragm calls and a megaphone to authenticate the howl of a wolf. If you need to find the sounds of a howl to imitate, simply type in “wolf howl” on your internet search engine. Wolf lovers have made sure the web is full of quality sounds.
After big game season you can go back to simply toting a tag and call. You may want to use the call or sit in ambush. As winter grips the Rockies begin to look for areas where big game and livestock gather. Wolves won’t be far behind. Wolves gather near winter elk and deer herds, plus they look for livestock in easily-manipulated situations.
Wolves are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add them to your predator bucket list. Seasons are just opening and there’s no better time to take on the challenge of a wolf hunt.
Idaho Fish and Game
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks