Hunter Doesn’t Kill a Wolf; He Saves It
The average person in the city or suburbia thinks of a hunter as someone who goes out on the weekends, shoots up the sky in a wetland or forest, bags an animal or two, and comes home to tell everyone about the trophy he got or the big one that got away. While there are plenty of character who live up to this stereotype, real hunters more often than not are very much in tune with nature, their place in the wild, and what is appropriate to kill in a hunt as well as what is not.
The above said, the wild and the woods are where survival takes place. So if a person squeamish about seeing blood, animalistic violence and guts, they’re better off staying at home because there is no Bambi or Thumper out in the real wilderness. And bigger animals have no problem attacking a human just as well as any other prey if that animal thinks the human is a good opportunity for a meal or a threat that needs to be eliminated within a territory.
Wolves have had a long history of being the boogey monster of the forests and ranges. They hunt singly or in packs, they often travel at night, and they can be ferocious killers leaving a mess when they attack. No surprise, wolves have a long history that creates an innate fear of them in many people, even in rural area. However, hunters are well aware of wolves, and see them as fellow players in the wilderness chasing similar prey. So when Peter and his friends, Stew and Henry came across a surprise while check traps for coyotes, he was not chased away by the site instead of a full grown wolf.
As a Wisconsin farmer and gamesman, Peter had seen plenty of wild animals early on as a kid and teen going hunting. And coyotes had become a nuisance on his property, which caused him to put out traps to catch and eliminate the pests once and for all. As Peter figured it, if he could reduce the local population enough, the coyotes would stop coming on his property altogether looking for food at night.
However, as he was touring his traps, Peter was faced with an entirely different dilemma: a full grown trapped wolf. The wolf wasn’t going anywhere, securely trapped by the paw. However, that didn’t make it any easier to get close to.
Stew and Henry were a bit perplexed as well on first sight. But after the surprise wore down, the three men decided what they needed to do pretty quick.
Peter remembered he had a sheet of old plywood in his truck the three traveled in that day, and got an idea pretty quick. Telling the guys what he wanted to do, they pulled the board out of the truck and cut a small hole on one side of it, like a half crescent mouse hole. They then turned the board so that the hole side was on the bottom when the sheet was held up by hand. This design would allow the men to block the wolf from biting any of them while one of the fellows worked to release the wolf’s paw from the trap. It was good idea but a wild wolf is still that – a very wild wolf.
As the three started to move towards the wolf, the animal instinctively reacted and backed up as far as it could until it’s trapped paw held the wolf in place. Then the wolf started flopping back and forth to wiggle free in vain. Low to the ground and getting wild-eyed with teeth bared, Peter could see that the animal was soon going to hurt itself badly in a panic, so they had to work quick. Stew and Henry held the board but still had their rifles loaded and ready if the wolf decided to lunge forward to suddenly attack. The three weren’t going to get themselves hurt or killed if they had to make a choice between the trapped wolf or them.
As soon as the plywood board was in place, Stew and Henry put it down so that Peter could get to work disabling the trap on the held paw. The wolf in the meantime was growling and snarling loudly; there was no Disney moment of the animal suddenly understanding the humans’ work and going quiet. This was a real, wild animal with no logic such as to how a domesticated dog might behave around humans. Peter was fortunately able to work quick though. He disabled the trap spring and with two screw drivers pried open the snap bars without twisting the wolf’s paw. As soon as the tension was off, the wolf pulled its paw through the plywood hole and was up and running from Stew and Henry. Peter barely had time to stand up off his knees and see the wolf take off in the distance, it moved so fast. Clearly, the paw was functional and working as the wolf ran without any noticeable limp.
After watching the wolf disappear into the distance and keep moving, the men slapped each other on the back, took a deep breath, and threw the plywood sheet back in the bed of their truck. There was no coyote on this given trap today, but the three did feel like they made some kind of a difference for a rare animal. And then they took off down the dirt road and completed the tour of the other traps on Peter’s property.
So there’s two lessons here at least. First, always, always be careful with wild animals. They are not movie characters. Even when trying to help an animal, it will still potentially attack a person out of fear and panic. Second, hunters are not indiscriminate killers. They hunt with purpose, and when animals that should live are found, many hunters give them a fighting chance to live and escape.