For Twin Cities hunter, wolf was a big surprise

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 6, 2012 - 11:02 AM

Hunters' success rate is less than 2%, a rate officials expect will fall.


Garrett Mikrut, 26, of Circle Pines, stood beside the 80-pound wolf he shot Saturday north of Duluth – one of the wolves shot over the weekend in Minnesota’s inaugural wolf hunt. Mikrut also bagged the doe in the photo, and his dad, Paul, shot the 8-point buck.

Photo: , Courtesy of Garrett Mikrut

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

While deer hunting north of Duluth on Saturday, Garrett Mikrut spotted a doe and fawn scampering his way.

"They were being chased,'' said Mikrut, 26, of Circle Pines. By a big white-tailed buck, he hoped.

Instead, two wolves appeared.

Instinctively, Mikrut shouldered his rifle and fired twice at one of the canines -- an 80-pound male -- killing it.

"My heart was pounding,'' he said Monday. "I was absolutely thrilled.''

Mikrut is one of 66 licensed hunters who have bagged wolves since Minnesota's controversial season opened Saturday. And with 3,600 wolf hunters licensed for a season that runs concurrently with deer hunting, the success rate thus far is less than 2 percent. It's a pace that wildlife officials expect will slow even further, with the early season harvest likely falling short of the 200-wolf quota.

Mikrut knows bagging a wolf was a long shot.

"We thought the likelihood was slim to none,'' he said. "I'd only seen one other wolf from my deer stand in 14 years of hunting.''

State wildlife officials will get their first look at harvested wolves Tuesday when hunters bring the carcasses to 21 Department of Natural Resources offices around the state so biological samples can be taken. Researchers say the data they collect will help shed more light on the iconic canines.

They'll take a tooth from each animal to age it, reproductive tracts of females to determine litter size and liver and kidney samples to test for diseases. They also will check for lead that wolves might pick up when they eat gut piles of deer shot by lead bullets.

"The information will be vital to us,'' said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. "The age and sex ratios will help us manage the population.''

While the inspection is mandatory, not all wolves killed thus far will show up Tuesday. Hunters also can bring them in Nov. 13 or Nov. 19, or by appointment. Mikrut said he'll take his wolf for inspection on Tuesday, then he plans to have it mounted or its pelt made into a rug.

"This could be the hunt of a lifetime,'' he said.

Four of the five members of his group won wolf licenses in a DNR lottery. Though Mikrut was the only one to shoot a wolf, his dad, Paul, 54, of Blaine, saw a pack of four wolves Saturday and spotted three more Sunday while hunting in Superior National Forest. Having no clear shot, he held his fire.

"That's the first time he's ever seen wolves while deer hunting,'' Garrett Mikrut said.

The group has seen signs of wolves over the years. "And we hear them at night frequently,'' he said. "Clearly, they are having an effect on deer populations. It's gotten to the level where we need to intervene and control the population. I definitely don't want to see them wiped out, just kept at manageable levels.''

Mikrut later bagged a doe and his dad shot an eight-point buck -- making the weekend even more memorable.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials expect the wolf harvest rate to mirror that of deer as the season progresses. Sixty percent of the whitetail harvest occurs during the first three days of the season.

"After today, the wolf harvest will slow down,'' Merchant predicted, in part because fewer hunters will be in the woods. The average hunter pursues deer only about four days in a season.

Still, the number of wolves killed thus far raises some eyebrows. Dan Stark, DNR wolf biologist, had predicted early season hunters might take 70 wolves, but with up to 13 days left in the season, it appears they will exceed that number.

"I wouldn't say I'm surprised,'' Stark said Monday. He still doubts the early-season 200-wolf target harvest will be met.

"I don't think we'll get there,'' he said.

The DNR closed the east-central wolf zone Monday after hunters shot eight wolves there; the harvest target was nine. But the northwest and northeast zones remain open. As of Monday night, hunters had shot 29 in the northwest, where the target is 133, and 25 in the northeast, where the target is 58.

The second wolf season, which also will allow trapping, opens Nov. 24, and also has a 200-wolf harvest target.

Doug Smith • 612-673-7667

  • 66

    number of wolves bagged since Saturday.


    wolf quota for the early season.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tennessee 7:25 PM
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question