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A loud knock on the front door of my little farmhouse preceded the entrance of my neighbour. He had a sullen look of dismay on his face. I could see that he was upset, so I waited patiently for him to find the words his mind was searching for. Then he began to tell me that he had just found a second, deceased 400 lb Black Angus beef calf in his pasture. Its throat was torn and it had been disemboweled. Several canines had been spotted running away from the carcass of this second calf. One was black as the ace of spades, two were an off white or ivory colour, one was a dark grey, one was reddish with silver tipped guard hairs, and the last looked like an oversized coyote. All, he said, resembled big dogs or miniature wolves! He continued saying that he had removed his cattle from this particular pasture and stated that he wanted me to “litter his land with traps to remove every single wild canine I could catch!” He said that he could not afford to lose yet a third calf!

The following day found me bundled against the cold blast of the Polar vortex of cold blasting its way south and eastward onto the prairies. I was determined to make an effort to set all of the boiled and dyed wolf snares that I had loaded in my little pack basket earlier that morning. I set the snares as trail sets where the wolfish tracks passed through dense stands of tamarack, birch and mature willow trees. A large loop, using all of the five feet of aircraft cable, hung at a height between the top of my insulated rubber farm chore boot and my woolen clad kneecap. As an afterthought, I added a chin-up stick to the empty space between the bottom of the snare loop and the top of the snow pack in the trail of canine tracks.

The snares were hung during the third week of November and with a regulated 24-hour trap check, they were checked every exasperating day! Then on the twenty-ninth day of December, I made a catch! There was a light snow flurry through the early morning hours. The catch must have been caught earlier in the night, as it was stiff and covered in snow. I could tell it was canine; in fact, I thought it was a coyote but there was something about this canine’s looks that made me know it wasn’t a coyote. The snare had worked properly; it had quickly choked the life force from the animal. The animal had a chest that was enormous, like an Olympic athlete! Its head was mounted on top of its shoulders, not between its shoulders like a coyote. I started to shake and looked around incredulous; I realized that I had done it! I have caught my first wolf! I could see my little farm house less than a half mile away through the spruce trees. Now, to get the wolf to the fur shed! I unfurled my little green fur sled from my pack basket and strapped the animal down. Harnessing myself into the trace, I started to pull!

The following morning found my neighbour in my icy, cold fur shed with his brass calf beam scale. My little wolf hung from the scale, 43 lbs was all it weighed. It measured 39 inches from nose to base of tail, 16 inches across the inside of the front legs at the chest, and 21 inches at the shoulder. This year’s pup! Its fur was soft and silky. I pelted it for the taxidermy trade. I skinned its little coyote-sized feet to the claw – that exercise sucked! I fleshed off a lot less fat than that found on a winter coyote. It was too large for a coyote stretcher so I stretched it on an eight-foot long adjustable wolf stretcher. When dry, the pelt measured 43 inches in length and 15 inches in width, it graded as a large timber wolf!

Eric Freeman holds his first wolf!
The cryptids, they are wolves!

The pelt sold at NAF A auction for the princely sum of $52.45 Canadian dollars. It must have sold for the trim trade, to upscale someone’s Canada Goose parka hood. Yeah, that’s it!

To test the genetics is costly and time consuming. I still do not know what subspecies to test the genetics of the carcass against. The fur trade is concerned with the species of fur, not the subspecies within. A wolf is a wolf – Canis lupus!

I have heard it said, “Any fool can set a trap and get lucky enough to catch a wolf.” I need to wait until next season to attempt to equal another wolf catch. Then I’ll know whether it was luck or skill. I have also heard it said that catching a wolf is the equal of earning a PHD in fur trapping. Nobody has mentioned anything about the size or age of the wolf caught and whether I can put “DR” in front of my name. After 38 years holding a fur trapping licence, I’m thrilled with my catch, even if it is a pup. My first wolf! ■

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