Wolf hunting seasons have been opened in the West and are scheduled to open in the Midwest this fall. But hunter success rates are painfully low. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation conducted a survey polling 710 wolf hunters from last season and of all the respondents, only 7 percent killed a wolf during the Idaho and Montana hunts.
What's even more interesting is that 20 percent of the successful hunters said their kill was because of a coincidental encounter.
Here's what those guinea-pig wolf hunters learned during their first season. Use their advice when you go on a wolf hunt of your own this fall.
Top 10 wolf-hunting tips from the RMEF member questionnaire:
4. Most wolf hunters want to shoot a big trophy male. But taking females is better for population control. The main thing is just don't shoot a collared wolf. Collars are needed to track the packs, and funding for collaring wolves is getting tighter.
5. Go on more hunts specifically for wolves, not for wolves as a byproduct of another hunt. (Questionnaire data revealed only 11 percent of respondents hunted exclusively for wolves; most hunted for wolves as part of a deer or elk hunt.)
6. Howling works to locate wolves. But too much howling, especially by inexperienced callers, can educate wolves. Elk calf- and fawn-in-distress and coyote calls work well. Also try moose calls.
7. When calling, set-up on high ground, not in a hole or depression. Visibility is key. Consider using a blind. Wolves seem to spot blaze orange from a great distance.
8. Wolves are more reckless in their pursuit of prey when it's colder outside. Hunters should concentrate on bad weather days for wolf hunting.
9. Watch for birds -- magpies, gray jays, ravens -- as a tipoff to fresh kill locations. Approach carefully and watch the area for returning wolves. Consider using a tree stand. A driving technique with a group of hunters also can work.