I grew up in a rural West Texas town hunting and fishing with my dad and brothers. We hunted rabbits and coyotes and occasionally whitetail deer. As the years went on, the occasional deer hunt turned into more of a regular thing, but that was the extent of our hunting, until my good friend Tyrel Dutcher and I started discussing going to Canada on a wolf hunt.
We never could have even imagined going to another country and hunting anything, much less the North American gray wolf, but Tyrel had been wanting to go for quite some time and just couldn’t manage to find anyone that wanted to go with him. He gave me a call and asked if I was interested, and naturally I was intrigued. It only took me a few minutes of looking at the outfitter’s website to decide this was certainly something I wanted to do, and after a little more discussion we decided to book the hunt. I contacted Lowell Davis at Alpine Outfitters in northern Alberta, Canada, and scheduled the hunt for the last week of February 2015. Tyrel and I invited another friend of ours and his son to go on this once-in-a-lifetime hunt. In the weeks and months leading up to it, all of my buddies naturally had to share their words of wisdom: words such as “Dude, you should try to shoot a black one,” or “Man, make sure you shoot a huge male.”
My response was, “I don’t care if it’s three-legged and one-eared, I’m shooting the first one.”
To be perfectly honest I would have been completely happy just seeing a wolf. Bagging one was going to be a bonus. Did I mention this hunt was in Canada … in winter? Weather forecast? This is where weather starts. Cold—that’s the only forecast.
When the time finally arrived for the hunt, to say we were excited would have been an understatement. We flew into Grand Prairie, Alberta, on Sunday, Feb. 22. The hunt was to begin the next morning. We were up and ready Monday morning. While sitting at the breakfast table I happened to glance over at the digital weather monitor (forgetting completely that they measure temperature in Celsius in the Great White North). The temperature was a balmy minus 27. First thought: What have we gotten ourselves into?
All four of us were going to be hunting in different areas so we divided into two groups and off we went, Tyrel and I in one truck and Brian and Calvin in another. I was going to be hunting in an area they called “four wolf,” so named because a previous hunter had killed four wolves in that blind in one afternoon.
The first day was pretty uneventful for me. Other than ravens, magpies and the occasional eagle it was pretty quiet. Make no mistake, it was awesome. Those magpies are some tough little rascals. Tyrel missed a nice gray wolf just before sundown on the first day. Who would have thought it would be his only opportunity that week? Brian had a similar day to mine, and Calvin shot a beautiful northern Alberta coyote.
Day two started much like the first day … until about 1:30. I was sitting in the blind listening to music when all of a sudden a beautiful black wolf with a silver belly just popped out of the forest. Taking deep breaths I let that Remington 700 in .300 WSM bark, and down she went. After a couple hours of waiting Lowell finally came to get me. Walking up on that wolf, I could not believe my eyes. She only had three legs! The first thought I had was, “These guys are not going to believe this.” Heck, I couldn’t believe it. The best anyone could figure is she lost her leg long ago, most likely as an adolescent. Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino, called his shot, and so had I. The only difference was his was not by accident. Either way, I was standing in the middle of nowhere looking at the most beautiful animal I had ever seen.
The trip ended with one wolf, two coyotes and memories that will last not one, but four lifetimes. Thanks go to Brian and Calvin Franks and Tyrel Dutcher. I couldn’t have shared this experience with three better companions.
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