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The chase will be complicated, the kill rare

  • September 11, 2012 - 11:49 PM

Successfully hunting or trapping a Minnesota wolf will require luck and skill in various measure.

• Deer hunters with wolf-hunting permits generally will need more luck than skill. They're counting on a wolf strolling by while they are sitting in a deer stand waiting for a buck or doe.

• But even lucky hunters who see a wolf will face a conundrum: Should they shoot the canine and potentially frighten off a nearby, but unseen, deer? What's more, shooting a wolf and notifying the Department of Natural Resources as required will take time away from deer hunting, as will tagging the wolf, removing it from the woods and processing it.

• Wolf hunters in Minnesota's late season -- after deer hunting has ended -- will require considerable skill to succeed. Already some hunters up north, hoping to draw a wolf tag, are dragging road-killed deer into the woods in a legal attempt to bait a wolf to within rifle range. But even this will be of little use unless a late-season hunter knows, at least generally, where a given wolf pack resides. Snow cover will help, as will tips from livestock owners who have had trouble with wolves. Trail cameras also might give a hunter an advantage. Making the chore more challenging, many wolf packs move almost exclusively at night, often far from roads, and in areas covering 10 square miles and larger.

• To trap a wolf will require the utmost skill. Knowing not only where wolves are generally, but the paths they frequent, is critical. Also trap setting must be done without leaving even a hint of human scent, a feat accomplished with rubber gloves and traps boiled absolutely clean. For bait, wolf scat taken from another area, fox urine (a wolf can't imagine a lowly fox fowling his territory!) or other stinky bait is used. Even then, odds favor the wolf -- particularly any that have been nipped previously by a trap. Best chance: a young-of-the-year animal.

DENNIS ANDERSON

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