The Wolf Days of Winter

MT Wolf 2012 Pack 3


Randy Newberg, of On Your Own Adventures, called and asked if I would be a guest hunter on his show for a Montana wolf hunt.  I was excited and thankful that he would call me to join him, especially considering I had zero wolf hunting experience.  Randy and I talked, and we both understood this hunt wasn’t likely to end with much in the way of wolf footage, and even less likely to end with a dead wolf.

But Randy and I both have the same philosophy when it comes to hunting: The odds might be stacked against you, but the odds drop to zero if you don’t at least give it a try.

We spent five straight days hunting for one of Montana’s most elusive creatures.  Our expectations were low, so we were thrilled when we spotted our first two wolves late in the afternoon of the first day. Under normal circumstances, we would have had a shot at them, but the camera guy was unable to locate the animals in his viewfinder, so I had to pass on the shot. I was learning, painfully, that trying to capture the harvest on film adds a significant level of difficulty.

Nonetheless, it was more excitement than we had expected for the first day.

The subsequent four days of hard hiking and glassing in sub-zero weather, left us with little to show for it.  We were fortunate enough to see wolves again, but we couldn’t get within range. When the professional camera guys ran out of time, Randy and I decided we would still try to get a wolf anyway.

But two weeks later, Randy called again, and said he was able to get the camera crew for another five-day window in January.  So we held off for them, and when they arrived, we went back to our old location.  It seemed most of the elk had moved out, and we figured it was likely that the wolves had followed their food. That meant  starting our second five-day hunt at square one in a brand new area. The entire first day was gobbled up by learning the lay of the land. On the second day, we loaded up our Crew Cabs with spotting scopes, cameras, tripods, and the rest of our necessities and cruised to a high vantage to glass as much country as possible.  We did the same on the third day as well.

In the late morning of the third day, I spotted a group of bull elk about four miles away, all of them necks wrenched and looking back. Something had their attention, so I watched. Nothing at first. For ten minutes they stood frozen peering back over their shoulders down the hill below, their antlers curling high above their bodies, full of tension, ready to dart.  And then, 30 yards below the bulls, appeared a beautiful black wolf, lined in silver.  And so began the chase.

The wolf kept its heading, straight away from where we’d been. But three hours and nine miles later, we found ourselves in the one position we’d dreamt of but never thought possible: closing the distance on a Montana wolf, now within shooting range.

The cameras were set. I threw the bipod down on the rifle and readied for the shot.  Randy called out the range at 510 yards. The wolf was on the move, and we yelled to stop it from disappearing into a draw.

“I got him,” the cameraman said.

I settled the crosshairs, and began squeezing the trigger.  At the report of the rifle, the wolf disappeared into the draw.

“You smoked it!” Randy yelled.

I wasn’t so sure. The wolf came up out of the draw, and we could see it had been hit. We shot again, and it went down quickly.

Walking up on this wolf was utterly amazing. It was bigger than I had imagined it would be, and its fur was long and wild.

The odds were stacked against us, more than any other animal I’ve ever pursued, and yet it worked out.  This may be the first wolf ever harvested on film in the lower 48, and it’s quite possibly the first wolf to have ridden in one of the best hunting packs in the world. It quite simply doesn’t get any better than that!

Stay tuned! The hunt will air this summer as part of On Your Own Adventures with Randy Newberg on the Sportsman Channel.

Packs in This Post

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  1. Robin Woolhiser
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Congrats to you and Randy. We just met Randy at the RMEF Convention and he is as nice in person as he is on his show!!!!! Thanks for making the time!!! great Story!!

  2. Luke Johnson
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Nice work guys! And nice use of your Crew Cab…!

  3. Dale Pearson
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink


  4. Aaron
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Smoke a pack a day!

  5. Bruce Derstine
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Congratuations, another one bites the dust/snow! Keep up the good footage!

  6. Matt Clyde
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    thanks everyone! Have packed a lot of animals in my crew cab, but none quite as awesome as this one:)

  7. Justin Wooters
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I could use one of these to carry around my son haha.
    Great job!!! Gore Tex!!!!

  8. Chris Lord
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Great job!

  9. Fred Burns
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Job well done to both of you for perceiving.

  10. Steve
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    You should all be ashamed!!! Here comes Peta. I wish I had any idea where that wolf was taken from . I would stop it from ever happening again. I stop people from killing bears and i will do the same with wolves. These are endangered in many places in the USA. Do not believe the crap that these wolves kill livestock and pets. Its a reason to kill somehting. The SF commmunity does not stand by this. Myself and every other Military person I know will never shop here again. I will let Army and USMC friends who do the buying to stay away from a company who supports the killing of animals. I am sick . You are going to hell for killinig that animal. UNreal I would find this on a site I had so much respect for!!!!

    • Travis
      Posted March 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      My unit is from AK and we fully support the taking of Wolves. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures

    • JR
      Posted March 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Bye bye Steve to you and your friends. Thanks for coming by, sorry it didnt work out with you and mystery ranch. Many of us will be continuing to use our mystery ranch packs to pack out animals that we have killed. Good luck trying to stop that from happening.

    • Luke
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Going to hell? Yeah maybe if it existed… Didn’t God give all you christians dominion over the animals?

    • Brad
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      Steve, Steve, Steve… Marine here, and you sound about as ignorant as Al Qaeda. I really enjoy food… it keeps me going. If we shouldn’t kill animals, how will we keep going? I love wolves and every other creature out there. Hell, if I find a spider in my room I pick’em up and put’em outside! However, if that spider happened to be a brown recluse that could possibly harm me or my family, I’m not so sure I’d take the chance. If a pack of wolves grows too brave around my flock of sheep,which provides food for my family and me, I’m gonna thin that pack out. You think everything is meant to live forever? Why is it within nature to die? Shit happens, and sometimes good things come from that. I can assure you, that man hauling away the wolf will use it as if it were a gift from God, which it was. Besides that, how does Mystery Ranch have a say in what someone does with their packs? Their packs are top notch! Have a nice day. Cheers.

    • Big D
      Posted August 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Oh boy another squirrel squeezer, you do know what PETA stands for right? People Eating Tasty Animals…. the man is a hard core hunter like alot of us, just like thousands of us red blooded americans he believes in predator control and keeping the canadian grey wolf (wich this species was never a native to the lower 48) in check by any means possible, and yes they do KILL for fun and KILL livestock on regular basis ive seen i first hand, ive also watched with my very clear and very good eyes as a pack of five wolves hamstringed a mature and very healthy bull moose and then leave him to bleed out and die a long and drawn out death, and youll also like to know they never returned to claim there glory killing…..EVER. The reason i know is cause i checked…. Every day! They also kill pets STEVE i know a man that had his best lion dog killed by two male wolves ON THE CHAIN in front of his house he has pics to prove it. Ive lived in northern Idaho for 34 years and hunted in Idaho for 22 of them and the wolf population is out of control and NO they were not native here, they are wiping out our elk, mule deer, and moose like crazy leaving alot of them to just lay and rot. Trying to stop, harass, or threaten hunters while there trying to harvest game or predators will land you in jail. Period…. Your probably against loggin too huh Steve, i would love to see you wipe your a** with a pine cone. Well i am a logger and i would love to see you come and try to stop me from running my skidder and doing my job. See ya later Steve you wont be missed, this hunting season just like others in the past me and my buddies will be packing out alot of tasty venison on our backs with our Mystery Ranch packs you can count on that. Probably a few big black bears too. Good job on the wolf hunt and great pics i love my crew cab

  11. Matt
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Goodbye Steve…you won’t be missed. What a tool.

  12. Tim Hoffer
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    There are two extremes to every situation. Hunting wolves is a touchy subject for many, but through smart wildlife management, ethical hunting (they deserve it like any big game animal) and the satisfaction that comes from a hard hunt, chasing wolves in the wild with a tag in hand is something that, due to the numbers being where they are, we will see again in 2012 and beyond.
    I am not for wiping them out like some rant and rave about, nor am I for not hunting them, especially when we have a sustainable and hunt-able population. Go after it like any other hunt–work hard, put in the time, and honor the experience; very few of us hunters will get a chance like that in many years of trying. It is a rare wilderness experience. Congrats.

  13. Alan
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Wolves are a beautiful creature. I have a great deal of respect and experience with wolves and coyotes. The house I use to live in was surrounded by sheep farms.I can confirm the fact that wolves and coyotes do in deed kill livestock. My old friend Borden use to lose more then half his spring lambs and at least a half dozen full grown sheep every year. This does not mean we should wipe the wolf from the face of the earth. However they do breed just as quickly as domestic dogs and their population must be controled. You know what they say about getting into an arguement on the internet. That said just let me express that you can sit at home in your mother’s basement thinking your spirit guide is the wolf all you want. If you ever come face to face with a pack of wolves in wild with nothing at hand but a peta flyer…use it to clean yourself once you learn the truth about wolves. Cheers

  14. Alan
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    BTW your in the hunting section dumbass. LOL

  15. Renata May
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I´m not from the U.S. and I still require to get more knowledge on this wolf hunting topic, in order to render an opinion. It´s difficult for me to understand how is hunting permited, since I come from a background were all wilderness animals are protected from being hunted. Can you give me a heads up on this?

  16. LaurenJ
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Permalink


  17. austin
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    what kind of pack is that

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