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It started out as a beautiful sunny day with a fresh blanket of snow. So, as I had my daughter Kate with me, I decided that we should go and do a couple of sets for coyotes and check for tracks.

After a nice little drive and marking areas to return to for further investigation, I picked out one of my favourite spots to have a sit and to let Kate stretch her legs.

After doing a small set of calls, we walked back to the truck, which was a short 50 yards away. Looking back at the meadow we’d just left, there stood the biggest black wolf I’ve ever seen. I raised my 22-250 with handloaded 55-grain Varmageddon (definitely not the calibre or bullet of choice for wolves) and put the crosshairs centre of mass and let rip, as he was staring straight at me.

If you have ever shot a coyote, you know what I mean by “they kinda’ poof up and drop straight to the ground.” Well, he surely did that and then started to do the death tornado and biting, so I figured he was dead. Well, to my amazement, he got up and trotted off so I let the second shot ring out and watched the bullet part his guard hairs... a definite miss.

At this point, I put Kate back into the truck, got her fastened into her car seat with a snack, turned on her favourite Raffi album, and then walked back to the point of impact and started my search for blood. I was keeping in mind to stay in sight of my truck and listening to my daughter singing songs when the woods absolutely erupted in what I can only describe as walking into a SPCA and having every dog in the place start barking, snapping their jaws, woofing and howling at the same time. I can only guess there was an additional five to seven wolves with the bone chilling sounds filling the woods all around me.

I made the only choice I could make and backed out to take my daughter home.

After returning home, I made a phone call to my hunting partner Warren Smith and we worked out a game plan to search the area the next day.

As we set out the next morning with our game plan in place, we decided that with extra time to cut the roads around the area, we’d see if we could find where the wolves had exited, if they had done so. Well, lo and behold, we located the pack two kilometres away but their tracks didn’t show any sign of blood or a wounded animal. We decided to move out of the area and return in the evening for a hunt.

So, back to the main search area we went. With daylight still upon us, we struck out into the meadow, found blood immediately, and began our tracking. After a short period, we located their bedding areas, which were covered in blood. Our spirits were starting to get high with anticipation of finding him. It was at this point that we lost all blood and sign and had a hell of a time locating their exit route. But we did manage to find where they all regrouped a kilometre later up the trail.

The second day we were only able to look until noon so we packed up and called it a day.

Luckily enough, my wife only ended up working a partial day the next day so I was able to sneak away for one final search.
On the third day I struck out at noon and went to our last known tracks. I was looking for one particular track, as my partner had noticed that one wolf was dragging his front left paw a little bit more than the rest.

After finding the track and following them, “Toe Dragger” made a hard detour off the main path and started to wander off. This made me very curious. Boom! I’m on blood again and my excitement starts to gain traction.

The author posing with Toe Dragger.
I figured why not howl and see if they are still around. Well, I never got a wolf response but what I got back was a beacon call from a raven in the exact direction I was headed.
After calming myself a bit and having some water, I began to hike uphill again... yes, this has been all uphill traveling so far. I was moving along slowly making sure not to lose Toe Dragger’s track, as the snow was melting and making it more difficult to track. Then I lifted my head to see the most beautiful and biggest black wolf I have ever seen in person. He had expired I believe the first night or the second morning, as rigor was set in and he was partially froze. At this point, I had left my quad several kilometres away and needed to figure out a recovery plan.

Thankfully enough, he was only a 500 yard drag through the bush and downhill to the main road. I called a good friend to pick me up and save me some hard walking.

This was hands down one of the hardest tracking jobs I have ever done but what a feeling when I recovered him. I knew I had hit him very well, but just with a light calibre, so I knew I would be tracking but it had been incredibly difficult, even with a little snow.

All the markers were blood and track locations and don’t count the 587 circles I did getting back on tracks or following the wrong ones. ■

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