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Hunter shoots huge wolf in northern Idaho

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Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 3:41 am

    COEUR D’ALENE — As the woman walked by the truck with the tailgate down, she glanced at what lay in the bed of the pickup parked outside Fish and Game’s Coeur d’Alene headquarters.Then, her eyes opened wide. “Oh my God,” she said.

    It was the head and fur of what had been a massive wolf that Brett Pitcher shot Monday.

    The 2002 Coeur d’Alene High School graduate got what he estimated was a 180-pound wolf in the St. Joe area. “Really. I live there. I don’t like that,” the woman said Tuesday morning. “That’s big.” Pitcher dropped it with one shot from his 7mm Remington.

    “We’ve been going after wolf,” Pitcher said. “We finally caught up with one.”

    That brought the total number of wolves killed to 17 in the Panhandle — two so far in February — with a quota of 30. Statewide, 159 wolves have been killed out of the 220 quota. The wolf season ends March 31.

    Hunters have 24 hours to phone in the kill, and five days to check in the hide and skull so Fish and Game can add to the tally. Fish and Game’s Jim Hayden removed a tooth from the wolf and took a skin sample for a DNA check that could help determine the wolf’s origin. Bill Harryman with Fish and Game said it was a mature male, and may have been the alpha male of a pack.

    Pitcher said he and his father, Bob Pitcher, have gone wolf hunting several times this winter. They headed out Monday morning with a friend, about 15 miles up the St. Joe river, and hiked in several miles. “We were doing some calling and we heard him howling up in the canyon first thing in the morning,” he said. The first time they saw the impressive black-and-gray wolf through binoculars, it was about a mile away.

    They continued their challenging trek through snow and brush. “Anybody who hunts the Joe knows where the big, deep, dark canyon is. We were on the other side over there when we spotted him with our binoculars,” Bob Pitcher said.

    “It didn’t matter what it took. We were going to go after him,” Brett said. “I wasn’t about to let it just sit there. I had to try.”

    The men split up.”Brett took the low end, I took the high end,” Bob said.

    Brett quietly crept to within about 200 yards of the wolf that was “hanging out in the shade,” chewing on a deer leg. “He didn’t know I was there,” he said. Brett Pitcher crawled to a clearing, got down on his belly, held his breath for a moment, then squeezed the trigger. The wolf went down. He saw another fleeing. “The one I saw was just as big as this one,” Brett said.

    He was surprised he finally got his wolf. “I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know anybody that’s killed a wolf yet,” he said. Bob was proud of his son, but at the same time, a little jealous. “He beat me to the punch by about 10 minutes,” he said with a smile. “We’re still working on getting me one.”

    The two have been hunting together in North Idaho since Brett was old enough to get a permit. “There might be a few father-and-son teams that have killed more elk than us,” Bob said. Brett said the wolf kill is easily his top trophy. “There’s nothing easy about it. We hunt a lot and this is the first one we’ve seen,” he said. “You can hear the howling but getting a view of one is something. They’re very elusive.” Brett said he may have the wolf turned into a rug, perhaps stuffed, mounted and displayed at home.

    “It might be the only one I ever see,” he said. Neither Pitcher was worried about receiving angry e-mails by those opposed to wolf hunting. “We take those as compliments,” Bob said.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Stoney posted at 10:21 am on Fri, Mar 19, 2010.

    Stoney Posts: 5

    Quite to the contrary a recent roundtable panel of experts, Beers, Fanning, Geist, Graves, Hoppe and Kritsky, discussed the sport killing issue at length and there is just too much evidence to refute your myths. The "surplus killing reflex" is the scientific term and no matter how you want to shape it, it is sport killing.

    Valerius doesn't just set by a desk, he has as much or more first hand expertise than any living human on wolf behavior and science, period, end of discussion.

    The wolf lover mythology continues to live in denial and you are absolutely brainwashed and living in a dream world.

    My so called looking silly comes from living with wolves and my first hand experiences as well as what is going on first hand in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona. Your so called first hand experts are just continuing the myth that the wolves only kill the sick and the weak and are not capable of killing a human. Get real, they have been killing humans for centuries.

  • theidahokid posted at 10:26 am on Sun, Mar 14, 2010.

    theidahokid Posts: 17

    I believe that you believe that wolves kill for fun. I suppose you also believe that Paleo-Indians risked their lives, stalked, and killed Mommoths with spears for the fun of it. Interesting you use Giest as your reference, it tells me alot about yourself. Giest is one of the first proponents of game farming, and targets wolf haters to sell his books and articles. His research is outdated and he is stubborn to accept or acknowledg that anything he has written about in the past maybe wrong. I tend to agree with researchers of today that are actually on the ground in the United States studying wolves with their own eyes, not a 72-year-old Russian sitting behind a desk in Calgary. One of the persons that got killed by wolves (whichi is very rare) was actually trying to see how close they could get to the wolves; they were doing the stalking, not the wolves. We call this natural selection. If you are afraid of wolves, move to the inner-city and purchase a condo on the top floor. Wolves do need to be managed, but spreading rumors that wolves kill for fun, and that they stalk humans as prey makes you look silly.

  • Stoney posted at 2:15 pm on Sat, Mar 13, 2010.

    Stoney Posts: 5

    theidahokid: Contrary to Dr. Nathan Varley's weak theory that it is surplus killing for the wolves to come back to eat on later doesn't hold water. There are too many recorded instances where not only sheep but calf elk were slaughtered in excessive numbers such that the only reasonable explanation is they sometime kill way more than they could ever eat in a reasonable time to make the surplus killing theory hold water. We are talking 30 + sheep and 7 or 8 calf elk. For the major part they kill just to eat, but they are opportunistic killers and do not just eat the old, weak and sick. There are many recorded instances where they eat the fetus out of their prey and nothing else and leave the big part to rot.

    For a good education on wolves and all of the myths that pro wolf science is proclaiming, google Dr. Valerius Geist, whom probably hands down has more research on wolves world wide and an exhaustive study on the history of wolves, than any other biologist. He also has many years of first hand experience with wolves and has written extensively why wolves do prey on humans and the science behind it. The young lady school teacher that was killed by wolves in Alaska recently and the young college student Kenton Joel Carnegie who was killed by wolves in Canada in 2005, and whom Valerius Geist personally investigated the incident, are explained by Dr. Giest and what and how wolves can come to kill humans. He blows away the myths that many modern day scientists proclaim as gospel. He should be required reading for all who admire and idolize the mystic wolf. He even admits he was for many years just like them.

    At any rate I live with the wolves and have first hand knowledge of their habits as I spend about 1/3 of every year in the wilderness. One thing we are finding with the Mexican Gray Wolf project in Arizona and New Mexico is that these pen raised wolves are human habituated and they teach their wild pups the same and they are dangerous, because they have no fear of humans. Until we establish hunting seasons and make them truly wild we have the potential for a lot of problems.

    Like I have already posted hunting will only help save the wolf not the other way around. It would take and extensive trapping and poisoning program to ever extirpate the wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and I don't ever forsee that happening. The pro wolf people should be very happy with the success of the wolf program there as they have more than met their wildest dreams of the number of wolves that they have now.

  • theidahokid posted at 8:33 am on Fri, Mar 12, 2010.

    theidahokid Posts: 17

    Stoney: Did you read the link that I provided below? If so, what is your reason for rejecting the researchers conclusions that wolves do not kill for fun, they kill for survival?

  • Stoney posted at 1:31 pm on Thu, Mar 11, 2010.

    Stoney Posts: 5

    theidahokid it would seem that you are the one who needs to take Biology 101.

    Your statement "They do not kill for fun, they kill for survival" oh really? What pure ignorance. Do you not have any clue what wolves actually do? This is just one of many myths your side continues to try and brainwash the average person into believing.

    Oh, by the way I'm not a wildlife hater, just the opposite, and according to your philosophy it seems you might be a wildlife hater except for maybe the large predators. All wildlife have a place and mismanagement of any of them is an injustice.

    In 1938 when IDFG hired three biologists to design projects to take advantage of the 3 to1 matching federal excise tax dollars, deer and elk populations were rapidly increasing statewide. In 1951, the number of harvested elk and deer checked through big game check stations was the highest ever recorded before or since. The November 19, 2009 IDGF payroll shows that wages were paid to 135 biologists, which does not include biologists with titles like Regional Wildlife Manager, Natural Resource Program Coordinator and the Benefitted Temps who are also biologists. The more biologists IDFG hires the fewer deer and elk it produces for hunters to harvest.

  • theidahokid posted at 7:30 am on Thu, Mar 11, 2010.

    theidahokid Posts: 17

    It ceases to amaze me of the ignorance of wildlife haters, and the way they speak with a lack of knowledge. I suggest you read a Biology 101 book and get educated instead of spreading rumors that just escalate the topic.

    Personally I would rather view a wolf in the wild than a herd of domesticated cattle or sheep. In addition, things have changed since the 1800s.

  • Stoney posted at 3:14 pm on Wed, Mar 10, 2010.

    Stoney Posts: 5

    It never ceases to amaze me at the pure ignorance of the wolf lover crowd.

    Wolves are ruthless killers eating much of their prey alive, eating fetus' out of their live hosts (livestock, elk, deer), sport killing, and besides they are opportunistic killers not just killing the sick, weak and old.

    That said wolves are a beautiful animal, and have a place in keeping the balance of nature in some places such as Canada and Alaska where there are huge herds of caribou in tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands. They were eliminated in much of the western Untied States because the land mass was pretty much heavily settled and with raising of livestock, wolves were the superior predator and were removed. Ungulate wildlife such as our deer and elk herds really made a come back and thrived. These bulging numbers of wildlife were then controlled by hunting which til this day has kept our wildlife in check and even made those populations healthier. If you take man out of the equation and let the wolves and other predators manage the numbers the wildlife and predator populations ebb and flow. But man is here to stay, I think, and they are the superior predator now.

    Hunting wolves is a good thing in that it controls their numbers so that they don't rapidly deplete their prey base and then they start dieing and killing each other off. Besides, wolf hunting will make them wilder and smarter and they will survive even better and the only way to ever eradicate them again would be from trapping, poisoning and hunting and that is not going to happen.

    Killing predators is an age old practice so that meat hunters have a bountiful herd of ungulates to hunt and kill for meat.

    Get a grip wolf lovers, they are a predator and hunting them is not going to wipe them out. Quite to the contrary. Look at our lion, coyote and bear populations. They are hunted regularly and relentlessly and not for meat, but because of making it possible for hunters to find and take meat. Alaska still has a large segment of their population that are subsistence hunters and rely on healthy ungulate wildlife numbers, and if wolves numbers are not checked the wolf eats them out of house and home.

  • theidahokid posted at 7:30 am on Wed, Mar 10, 2010.

    theidahokid Posts: 17

    Killemdead: Sorry to hear you announce to the world that you kill living creatures for the fun of it. You are the type that gives hunters a bad reputation. And please stop spreading rumors about the gray wolf. They do not kill for fun, they kill for survival. Go to the link below and get the facts from a real biologist that has studied wolves in Yellowstone. In addition, if you think wolves are the sole responsibly for the demise of our elk and deer herds, you are a fool. Idaho’s population growth and development of critical winter habitat from housing, commercial, mining, logging, industry, etc. has had a huge impact on Idaho’s wildlife. You are wrong about hunters not having an impact, because I have seen overhunting in southeast Idaho with my own eyes. Don’t believe every thing you hear, and show the wolf some respect.

  • killemdead posted at 5:50 am on Wed, Mar 10, 2010.

    killemdead Posts: 3

    It has nothing to do with thats sorry i think wolves are cool i think its cool to see them out in the wild we need to get a handle on them. the fact that the elk heards and deer heards are diminishing so fast they say its cause of the hunters thats bull it has nothing to do with the hunters its the wolves. But when a wolf just kills for fun which they do its a proven fact we should be able to kill for fun also. I believe in kill what your going to eat. But i will kill a wolf if i see one just for fun to say i killed a wolf

  • theidahokid posted at 7:43 pm on Tue, Mar 9, 2010.

    theidahokid Posts: 17

    I have hunted all my life. I eat what I kill. There is no reason for me to kill a wolf. People that kill wolves and other predators kill for fun. I know because I have friends that say so. A tragedy about all of this is you have the livestock industry telling the public lies about wolves and you have gullible people like killemdead believe everything they hear. Killemdead is scared that the big bad wolf is going to come and get him. I think wolves are fascinating animals and are glad they are roaming the great state of Idaho.

  • killemdead posted at 5:47 am on Tue, Mar 9, 2010.

    killemdead Posts: 3

    you tree huggers make me laugh. props to this kid for killing the wolf. enough with the tag season they need to be an open season on them. I am just going to laugh when they start coming into town and people get pissed off cause there here but we need to get control of them now not later right now

  • posted at 6:24 pm on Mon, Mar 8, 2010.


    This is a poor story because there is no evidence at all he killed a 180 pound wolf. It is just his say so. Because 180 pound wolves don't exist, this like a guy's story about the 40 pound brook trout he caught (but didn't bother to weigh).

  • Bowhunter posted at 1:15 am on Mon, Mar 8, 2010.

    Bowhunter Posts: 1

    Being a bow hunter has made me appreciate the art of hunting and not the sport of killing. While these gentlemen seem to be responsible hunters, using a gun to hunt with is overkill. Don't call it hunting if your only skill is pulling a trigger. If you're not going to eat it, we call that murder. Some seem to think wolves are dangerous and destructive but not as dangerous or destructive as man has been. We have encroached into their world to the point of extinction and now we applaud those who would kill off the last of their kind. Hold your heads high gentlemen while the rest of us kneel and pray for forgiveness.

  • wolfprincess1990 posted at 4:47 pm on Sat, Mar 6, 2010.

    wolfprincess1990 Posts: 1

    I think they need to end the wolf hunting season and put them back on the Endangered Species Act. The hunters got their fun.