Well, as many of you know I have been in Alberta with my good friend Richard Graves doing our best to reduce the wolf population. I will start this by saying if you want to challange yourself to one of the most difficult hunts you can imagine from a mental aspect, go on a wolf hunt!!!
I really did not know what to expect to be honest. The first day we were all packed up and headed out to be dropped off at out blind locations. We were hunting over bait stands which were located from 150 to +300 yards away from each blind location. We arrive with about an hour before daylight started appearing on the horizon.
Most of the wolf activity on the baits will occur at around 10:00 AM and then just before dark as well. But is it wise to try to pay attention the entire day because as with any hunting you never know.
Here is a view out of the front of my blind. As you can tell the country is amazingly beautiful. Not a bad view if you have to sit there for 10 hours and see nothing but trees and hills!!
The first day nothing showed at all and to be honest, it was easy to sit in the stand until about noon. After that the afternoon really went slow. I am used to sitting several hours in the morning and evening hunting whitetails but I have never experienced anything like sitting for 10 hours straight in a blind.
I told my wife to imagine going out and sitting in her car but not being able to start it or do much of anything, just had to sit there starting an hour before daylight until an hour after daylight!!! It is impossible to explain this unless you have done it before, mentally the hardest thing I have ever done in the field. I will admit to nodding off more then a couple times!!!
Day one and two were about the same, lots of ravens on the bait stands and nothing much else running around. I did see a young bull moose and some small whitetail bucks on those first two days but nothing else.
The weather was actually really warm for good wolf hunting. It was in the high teens for lows and high 20's to mid 30's during mid day. This does not seem really cold but sitting for that many hours makes it feel much colder then it really was.
The year before, Richard Graves had been on the same hunt but temps ran in the -36 to -44 degree range all three days he hunted, I do not believe I would have been able to do that!!
As we drove out to the stands on day three to get dropped off for another lonely long day I was not feeling overly optomistic but also knew that patients is the most important aspect of this type of hunting. Still I was beginning to think I would go about crazy, then at around 9:55 AM on that third morning, I looked up and say a pair of tan dots on the treeline up the valley from my stand. I figured they were deer but grabbed the binos to check anyway.
Almost fell off my chair when I saw not two but three grey wolves trotting away from me. They must have winded me before they reached the stand in the swiriling winds. I grabbed the 7mm AM and lined the 3.5-15 nightforce MLR up on the closed wolf.
I just could not get a clear shot picture so I lined up on another. This wolf had trotted up unto an open hill side which I had ranged previously at 600 yards. The wolf had trotted farther down the hill from the point I ranged so I guessed the range at 650 and lined up on the big wolf.
A it was trotting, quartering away from me I gave a bit of a lead and sent one of the 200 gr ULD RBBTs through the coldl mountain air. Almost instantly the earth errupted under the feet of the wolf and the big dog jumped nearly three feet straight up in the air. When he landed he was already in high gear and made it to the treeline before a second shot could be made.
Instantly the rest of the pack started howling to call in the members of the pack to make sure every member was safe. It is a strange feeling to hear a dozen or so 75-180 lb wolves howling within 1/2 mile of you.
I waited several minutes and then decided I better hike up and make sure of the shot weither I hit or missed. The wolves continues to howl as I made my way up the valley to the place the wolf was at the shot. Now they were only a few hundred yards back in the bush and very loud!!
There was no sign of a hit and I knew the shot had landed low anyway, just had to make sure. I stood at the point where the bullet impacted and ranged back to my blind, 710 yards!!! As I did not have time to range the trotting dog he had covered more ground then I predicted and the misque in range pretty much saved the big dogs life.
I set on that hill for nearly 30 minutes howling at the pack. Everytime I did the entire pack would erupt in song. It was truely impressive to be that close to such as group of animals.
I considered trying to sneak up on the back in the timber but not knowing the country I figured we would call this one a draw and head back to the blind hoping for another chance which would probably not happen with this weather.
While I was disappointed with the miss, I was happy with how close I actually was on the moving target. Had I given the hold another 1/4 mil things may have been very different so I was not overly unhappy.
One other hunter in our group also saw a wolf that morning but only a glimpse as it ran into the timber.
Richard said he say a squirrel twice and that was it!!!
Day four was kind of strange, I did not expect to see anything but still had hope because at least I knew the pack may still be in the same area and they had not yet hit the bait yet.
Still, 10 hours passed and nothing showed up. When the guide picked me up I noticed there were two nice wolves in the back of the truck, Richard had scored on two females at ranges from around 250 yards on the first and over 400 on the second using his 243 AI with his 110 gr ULD FBHPs.
To be honest, my legs were telling me they were about finished sitting motionless 10 hours a day as they were starting to hurt around 2:00 in the afternoon, to many miles on concrete basketball courts as a youngster have added up in a big way.
When we got back to the lodge Richard and I talked it over and decided that instead of heading back out to the wolf blinds we would spend a day hunting the Russian boars that the outfitter had on his property to hunt.
We asked if he had any long range shooting available where we could set up to try to hammer a boar at some decent ranges. The next morning he took us to one of his deer stands and asked me if it would work for some long range shooting. The stand was on a pipe line cut and was roughly 1100 yards to my left and about 600 yards to my right so I figured this would work well.
Only problem was that I left all my bipods and rear rest in my truck at Richards place as we were to be hunting out of box blinds. Chad, out guide offered us all the materials we needed to set up a sturdy shooting platform for the long range shooting at the top of the 17 foot tree stand. We used two long wood planks to make the platform and then I used one of my sleeping bags as a front rest and a roll of artifical gress carpet for a rear support. When I settled into the rifle I was quite supprised how solid the rest and rifle actually was.
We got the rifle set up in the stand and then began the wait hoping a good sized boar would make his way into the opening to feed. Here is a view of the cut line from the left of my position in the stand. Richard positioned himself below and to my left as a spotter in the event something provided a shot for us.
After about an hour some smaller boars and sows made their way into the opening to feel on the grass. This pic shows three of them at roughly 690 yards. THese Russians are in the 100 lb range.
These are the same Russians on full digital zoom with my camera at a full 690 yards. In this group there was one that was noticably larger then the others but just did not seem to be what I wanted. There are some huge +400 lb boars on this property but I wanted anything from a 200 lb bore on up for eating. If a monster showed up, all the better as I woulf probably get it shoulder mounted.
After 15 minutes or so this group wandered back into the bush and then there was no activity for around another hour. I even climbed out of the treestand and went down and BSed with Richard as we watched. Hunting at long range has its benefits for sure, such as being able to talk rifles and bullets with a buddy, only problem is that generally costs both of us money when we start talking about new ideas [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]!!!
After chatting about new ideas for rifles and bullets for about an hour I looked up to see a lone black dot at the end of the cut line and told Richard we got a "pig" to look at. I ran to the treestand and climbed up and grabbed the spotter to check out the Russian. Again, not overly large but a pig none the less. Then another popped out of the dense brush and then another and another.
Of the four, one was quite a bit larger then the other three and I thought I saw tusks on this one as well so I told Richard I was going to set up for the shot. I took a range measurement with the Swarovski which told on the boars distance to me, 700 yards. I moved over to the rifle and got scope level up and centered and then told Richard I was ready to take a shot. He said whenever I was ready to let her rip.
The bore had walked a ways farther out before turning broad side with his head to the left. I felt a slight breeze on the left side of my face so I held into the breeze about 4". The boar was now at roughly 715 yards so I counted 2.5 mils down from the main reticle on the NXS and gave the 4" of windage into the hold. I held the 2.5 mil has on the top 1/3rd of the bores shoulder and just ahead of the shoulder neck junction for the wind and the 1.5 lb trigger broke on the 7mm AM.
Instantly the boar kicked at its shoulder and spun around to run to the brush. He made it abotu 20 yards and stopped, standing broad side. I was expecting him to drop anytime but he only kicked a couple times at his shoulder with his back leg and stood there.
I told Richard I was going to give him another and took the same hold. The boar was facing directly at me at this point and I thought about putting one through the old coconut but then he turned a bit and offered a quartering on shot on his shoulder. Again, I held the 2.5 mil hash on the top 1/3 of the boars shoulder and put the verticle stadia on the last couple ribs of the boar to allow for the slight breeze.
This time as the rifle barked, the boar bolted for the trees after taking another obvious hit. We pulled the rifle out of the stand and began to walk toward where the boar was at the shot. When we got there we instantly found blood from the first shot, not alot though. Then moved to where the boar was on the second shot and found more blood but also some stomach matter. With the way the boar was standing this did not concern me all that much as I probably would have taken out the pouch on the offside even with a good hit.
We tracked the blood trail for the first 100 yards at which point I was beginning to get a little nervous and unsure of the hits. The brush was extremely heavy and at times we had to get on our hands and knees to see under the bush.
Another 100 yards into the bush and we started running into alot of pigs which were destroying the tracking trail. I was really getting sick at this point as there was more and more stomach matter on the train.
Then just as I was beginning to think I had spend alot of money for a wounded animal, Richard spotted the boar in a very thick area of bush.
We walkd over to the boar to check out the impacts and try to figure out why the boar had traveled so far. I instantly learned that my hold into the wind was a mistake as the impact of the first shot was just ahead of the shoulder in the heavy neck area but a bit high, roughly an inch above the spine. How this did not at least temperarily drop the boar is beyond either of us.
The second shot again did not need the windage I put on the shot and landed exactly where I had held the reference mark. It took out the onside lung and just clipped the offside lung before punching the liver and exiting though the pounch resulting in the stomach contents on the tracking trail. We pulled the boar out of the bush and got the truck in and hauled the boar back to the lodge where we cleaned and skinned the boar.
How this boar made it 100 yards is a mystery to everyone there. The onside lung was hit solidly, the offside lung was still in decent shape, the liver was damaged and even the top of the heart was severely bruised from the impact of the 200 gr ULD RBBT. THis was all from the second shot. The exit wound is shown in this pic. From only hitting soft tissue I was very impressed with the damage to the boar.
Appearently this boar was just a tough customer and took alot of pounding and still covered some ground. This is why bigi boars can become dangerous after being mortally wounded at times.
While I was suprised the boar had traveled so far after the shot, I was at least now happy with the impact placements at 715 yards.
That evening, we packed up and headed back to Richards place. The following day we spent skinning his two wolves and then headed out to do some yote calling which resulting in some good excercise and not much else, just to nice of weather and a full moon to boot.
All in all it was alot of fun. Would have loved to hammer that big wolf at +700 yards but it was not ment to be, maybe if there is a next time it will happen, it not it was alot of fun anyway and the big 7mm got to eat on some pork as it worked out, later I will get to eat on some fine pork as well!!
Lots of fun with good friends!!