Wolves haven't been lying low in my northern homeland of Wyoming and I saw firsthand evidence of it during a recent backcountry archery elk hunt. My first reminder came earlier this summer as a raiding wolf started attacking high country sheep herds. The culprit was pinpointed and later trapped to stop the wool loss. In much of Wyoming wolves are treated the same as coyotes with predator status. When you see one you can shoot it and especially if it is targeting livestock.
My next meeting was a little more subtle, but the CSI clues definitely pointed at a wolf. I was sneaking below a rocky outcropping hoping to bump into a bugling bull when my eyes suddenly were pulled to the side. There beside me were the remains of a dead elk calf. I tiptoed over to inspect the carcass and although I'm no expert on dead animals, all the signs pointed to a wolf attack. The calf hadn't been cached as a lion might do and from the way the animal was eaten, similar to research photos I had seen of wolf kills. The animal's chest had been opened and the vital organs were consumed along with some rib meat. The quarters, neck, head and paunch were untouched. It was almost autopsy like.
My real CSI clue came later in the day a short jaunt down the trail. As the day heated up I set up near a spring area to hopefully catch a bull coming to nab a drink or at least wallow. As I scoped out the setting a particularly large set of tracks grabbed my attention. They certainly weren't coyote tracks and the sight of a Great Dane would have been as flabbergasting as the sight of Elvis. They certainly had to be wolf tracks and if you added one and one together it meant the elk calf met its demise at the hands of the big bad wolf.
As I've said before I don't mind sharing the landscape with wolves, bears, lions and the likes. I think the remote country and the presence of these animals makes the backcountry that much more exciting. That said, I don't want to be finding the remains of elk on a regular basis, but fortunately with Wyoming's liberal wolf hunting laws that shouldn't be a problem.
Has anyone else been finding wolf kills while out hunting?