Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Big, Bad Wolf
The founder of our deer camp, DrDon'tThrowThatAway, was stillhunting along the north boundary of the property when he encountered our neighbor to the north. Upon exchanging the usual pleasantries he asked how the deer season was going he was told that, "Goddamn wolves ate all the deer". This was met with much derisive laughter back at our camp when the story was related. I'd seen 8 deer that day, GurneyGranny had seen a similar amount and one guy had seen 17! After it snowed there were feeding areas that looked like a cattle feed lot.
It seems that there are always a certain number of rednecks who want the wolves eradicated again. Deer hunters, especially the ones who just aren't that competent, find the wolves to be a good excuse for their lack of success. Farmers tend to blame them for any livestock depredation too. A guy who had several sheep killed in his pasture complained to the DNR who quickly discovered that it was his renters Rotweiller and not the wolves who had been out killing his sheep. A wolf kill is unmistakeable. They always eat what they kill because they frankly just aren't that successful in bringing down big game. Usually you find a 6' area of deer hair, a foot or two of vertebra, and and part of a skull. After one particularly hard winter with a lot of snow in March, when the deer are most vunerable after going through the winter, we found over 20 winter killed deer carcasses and 3 wolf kills on the property. Draw your own conclusions from that.
At our camp we enjoy having them around and GG and PodMan went to the training offered by the Timberwolf Alliance, a program through Northland College, and are now the official wolf survey folks for our little area of the county. This involves heading up to camp after it snows for some XC skiing or snowshoeing to check the wolf movement. As you can imagine this is tough duty but someone has to do it. I've selflessly volunteered for a number of tracking sessions. The more you learn about the animal the more you appreciate how it fits in and the 'wildness' that it brings to the area. It sends shivers up and down your spine to hear them howl when you're sitting in your stand, its getting dark, and you know you have to walk through the woods back to camp. We are happy to have them around and are happy to share the deer with them.
Note: the deer in the pictures are not only alive and not eaten by wolves but were actually in the area where we heard them howling.