It’s worth remembering that most of the current crop of wolves in the lower 48 came from Canada via a relocation program—and that Canadians were overjoyed to get rid of them. Alberta in particular has so many wolves that, for residents, wolf season is almost identical to coyote season. No license is required, there's no bag limit and the season is open all year long on private land. It’s not quite as generous for nonresidents or when hunting on public land, but it’s close. And that's all the excuse I need to go wolf hunting.
To help me out, I enlisted the aid of Terry Saffron from Panther River Adventures. Terry's a guide and outfitter who works an area northwest of Calgary that lies within the eastern fringes of the Rocky Mountains. Sheep, elk, deer and moose roam this land, so wolves are there as well. And because a mature wolf will consume 25 ungulates a year, the outfitters are anxious to trim wolf packs to a manageable size.
Bounties and culls have all been used in recent times to control wolves in Alberta, but hunting these predators isn’t easy. Most wolves are killed in the fall by hunters who are pursuing other species and encounter wolves accidentally. A nonresident wolf tag is cheap (and residents don’t need one), so they become great bonuses to a big game hunt. However, for hunters like me who target predators specifically, baiting and calling are the two best options.
Of those two, baiting is by far the most efficient and productive method of attracting wolves. Baiting is legal in Alberta and that’s how most hunters kill their wolves. While sitting over bait sounds like a quick and easy way to bag a wolf, it’s not. Wolves travel continuously and will spook off a bait at the slightest provocation. Add in their nocturnal habits and even baiting can be a tough game. Panther River Adventures keeps a number of baits running throughout the winter in several valleys. All of their baits are monitored continually to see which ones are being hit. When a bait goes “hot,” that’s where a hunter needs to be.
Calling works, too, but it’s tough because of the transient nature of the wolves. I tried both techniques and ended up taking a big black male from a blind. After that, I worked harder at calling, but with no success in the time I had left.
If you’d like to hunt wolves, give Terry a call. He runs a great operation in some of the most beautiful country on earth. Accommodations and meals are wonderful and he can structure a hunt to suit your needs. Hunt wolves near the main lodge for a less demanding hunt, or venture into the backcountry 3 hours by horseback and hunt from a year-round tent camp. However you structure the hunt, Alberta is the place to go if you want to collect a wolf pelt.
This black wolf won't be dining on any more elk or moose.