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#5952338 - 07/17/17 12:27 AM Wolf Trapping in Montana
Reiver Offline
trapper

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Montana USA
Hi all,

A couple years back I got my cert from Jack Whitman who is a well known wolf trapper. His class was very helpful but due to the size of the class a lot of questions went unanswered. Maybe some of you wolf trapper can help.

My 1st question: I know finding the pack boundaries is the golden goose but I have yet to find. I'm sure they're running a lot further than most would think. I believe the pack that comes down onto my land actually roams several miles. My question is am I wasting my time making sets that are not on the boundary? While up setting for fox I occasionally see tracks from 1 to 6 wolves but they are not that common. Last year several times they were within howling distance of my home and killed 3 deer on my land but they come down and then they're gone for days or even weeks. If I keep a good path for them to run from my snow mobile (while setting up), use lures such as urine and feces can I lure them down to my sets or am I pissing in the wind?

My 2nd question is: On youtube a well known Canadian Trapper also uses along with k-9 urine the bottom of a liter soda bottle as tracks in the snow and from the video it does look like large k-9 tracks. In the video he said he has trapped over 50 wolves using this method. Has anyone tried this before?

any help would be appreciated.
thx
Reiver
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d elliott

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#5952362 - 07/17/17 05:43 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Osky Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/09/13
Posts: 4303
Loc: Northern MN
No your not wasting time legally setting on your property. Wolves wander far and wide, it's what they do for a living. Obviously they hunt your land. Here you can easily lure them with deer carcasses and yes they will take the path of least resistance i.e. A snowmobile trail during deep snow.
Lots of clever ideas out there on the inter web. Here if a carcass in winter is in deep cover it does not make a difference if there are mouse tracks or elephant tracks around it. If you place the bait, patience, they will come.

Osky
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"A womans heart is the hardest rock the Almighty has put on this earth, and I can find no sign on it"

www.SureDockusa.com

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#5952463 - 07/17/17 08:43 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
red mt Offline
trapper

Registered: 10/15/14
Posts: 2279
Loc: montana
Anything from 21 days to 59 days to make a loop back to same drainage here.
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Kenneth schoening

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#5952516 - 07/17/17 10:09 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Taximan Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 2551
Loc: SW Montana
Pack boundaries would be great but if you aren't on one,they have to travel.I haven't had any packs near me,just nomads traveling through but I have caught a couple by paying attention to where they liked to pass through most often.Some seasons,they don't come through at all.The Alaska Fur Trapper's Wolf manual has some good information and most of it is geared toward trapping off snow machines.

I think you need to get them out early and keep them working as long as you can.

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#5952669 - 07/17/17 01:29 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Boco Offline
trapper

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 12400
Loc: james bay frontierOnt.
Where I am wolves stay near the moose,which is their primary prey.Moose don't wander too far in winter,they tend to "yard up" to a degree.Wolves will regularly travel between these preferred browse areas for moose.I don't make sets near the high ground moose browse areas,but on the travel routes the wolves take between winter moose browse areas.
It takes a few years wandering around the trapline to identify terrain and where wolves and other animals use on a regular basis.
In winter the key is to locate the wolves main source of food and the areas that the prey themselves prefer and scout accordingly.

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#5954964 - 07/19/17 09:11 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Gulo Offline
"On The Other Hand"

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Idaho
Hey Reiver, good questions all. Glad that the wolf class was helpful, but am sorry that you left without all your questions answered. I usually stick around after the classes to catch the questions of the more serious trappers. Which class did you take?

Anyway, in my opinion, pack boundaries are not golden. However, if you're on or near a boundary, chances of wolves encountering your gear are twice as high, in that you most probably have a couple of different packs at or near that boundary. Too, it seems that the dispersers (usually 1-3 year-olds) often spend quite a bit of time working the boundaries. Too, in my opinion, you're not wasting your time if you're not on a boundary. As Boco mentioned, the key is time afield looking at wolf sign. Travel routes are somewhat predictable, but there are certainly surprises, and only boots on the ground will tell you the score. In my experience, wolves usually travel between feeding areas along the easiest routes; that is, ridgetops and drainage bottoms. Unless the food (moose, elk, deer) is on the sidehills, I don't spend too much time setting them up.

Too, in my opinion, there are too many wive's tales about wolves "patrolling" their territory boundaries. From radio telemetry data on umpteen (more than 100) packs that I've been involved with over the years, there simply is no set route that a pack follows, patrolling and marking it's territory. I've heard over and over that they make a loop around their territory every so many days. Doesn't happen. In most of the wolf work I'm currently involved in, large portions of the territories aren't used for 5-6 months. It's high country that is used in summer, but in winter, there ain't no food there, so they simply don't go; nothing to be gained.

Yes. One of the other things you mentioned is "...they're running a lot further than most would think." Again, in my opinion, that's probably an understatement. Of course its highly variable (mainly due to the amount of prey available), but Idaho/Montana wolves commonly use territories around 500 square miles. In mainland Alaska, it's more like 1000 square miles per pack. That's a metric boatload of real estate. Put your effort in where the food is.

I've never tried the soda bottle track impersonator. Actually sounds reasonable to me...

Hope these comments are helpful.

Jack

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#5955044 - 07/20/17 12:05 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
TRAPSA Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/24/17
Posts: 1
Loc: South Africa
Hey Guys
Totally new here, first post, but been studying for months. Been trapping for 25 years .....but not close to the USA !!
Visiting Montana in September any chance of somebody getting me into close contact with the wolves or coyotes.Trappers or farmers anybody willingly to share his knowledge and get me on the tracks of these predators.
I would appreciate.

Thanks
TRAPSA

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#5955094 - 07/20/17 06:02 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Mike Flick Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/06/12
Posts: 1862
Loc: 1st civ. Div. Wood County Wi.
Hey TrapSA! If you ever get over my way I'd be glad to show you some coyotes and we mite get lucky and see a wolf or two. It's best in Feb. here for me. Maybe you can show me around S.A if I go.
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#5955242 - 07/20/17 11:00 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
white17 Offline

"General (Mr.Sunshine) Washington"

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 22920
Loc: McGrath, AK
I don't know that a guy could actually know for certain that he has located a boundary. I also suspect that boundaries change with the make-up of each pack and the relative availability of prey.

BUT.....as long as you take note of the sign you see, eventually you will notice places that are used repeatedly. I am referring to travel routes. It seems to me that individual ( lone) animals will repeatedly use the exact same routes when transiting an area. Perfect opportunity to deploy a snare in a likely spot.

Summer would be a good time to get out and make some dirt holes and bait them. ( be sure it's legal first) See what sort of tracks you find in the dirt pattern. You may also benefit from creating a draw for critters. A large carcass pile in a tight spot. Good time of the year to create narrow spots in the brush and trees around the spot you want to create a large bait.

If you can hear wolves howling, howl back at them a little bit. It MIGHT just create enough interest to keep them in the area a bit longer and encounter your gear.

They know you aren't a wolf but they are usually curious and social enough to answer. Also, remember that they may be much closer or further than you think. In the winter, when it's cold, they can hear each other for a mile or even more depending on atmospherics. You may not hear them at that distance.

When possible, always set on sign. You can change their behavior if you think it through. They aren't magic. They are highly developed but can also be creatures of habit. Especially in smaller groups and smaller areas.

As Jack said, they will be where the food is. That 's the area to concentrate on IMO.
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Mean As Nails

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#5955326 - 07/20/17 01:21 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Jumperzee Offline
trapper

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 742
Loc: North Central Idaho
Reiver, I have no where near the experience of those above, but have been consistently successful every year in dense forested country. I'd have no idea how to find a pack boundary, nor would I even try or worry about it considering the access. I know there's multiple packs that overlap though. As stated above, you need to know where they're going to be and that requires a lot of time on the ground scouting.

For me, success has been to bait and set all the places I've seen consistent sign from year to year that I can reasonably access for the ~4 months or so of trapping season. I generally use a lot of bait at a site to get them returning. And by a lot, I mean a lot. It's a pretty committed endeavor to keep a bait hot considering the birds and frequency of the wolves visiting (generally a couple weeks here). All my catches have been in footholds Nov/Dec before the snow or in late Feb/March as the snow retreats. I haven't done any good in snow, partly because of freeze/thaw, partly due to operator error. It's been pretty interesting (frustrating) to see how the wolves have responded to me checking sets (where I need to hike in) at a bait. Once I establish a trail or leave tracks in the snow they completely change their routes into a bait site, usually sticking to the thickest cover in their approach/depart. You'd think that would make for a good snare situation, but I haven't figured out how to get in/out and make sets that I can check from a distance without tracking it up. Our dense forested/brushy stuff requires up close(r) checking than I'd like.

I know of guys in MT that tag out every year by using big dirt holes under trees that shelter sets from the weather. They're in more open areas that can be checked from a distance. It would be good to locate these type areas and catalog them for later.

Like White said above, if legal, dig a hole and bait them up starting soon. Get your line developed now, since they are habitual. Bury a sheep or similar in a few areas you think they'll visit. Stick a trail cam on it and be patient. Chances are a bear will find it first, but you never know. If you get some wolves there a couple times you'll be good to go come time to set. They should return.

Kind of a no-duh, but you won't catch them without sets in the ground and it'll require casting a big net, so to speak. Start setting and refine from there as you learn their habits. To me catching wolves still amounts to sticking some tea cups under an oak tree and catching an acorn. It might be a relatively low probability endeavor but with some scouting and pre-work you can find out which branches have the most crop and increase your odds.

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#5955753 - 07/20/17 10:21 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Gulo]
Reiver Offline
trapper

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Montana USA
Hey Jack,

I took your Cert class at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation abt 2-3 years ago. The 2nd class I took was at Montana FWP and I believe was put on by Montana Trapper Assoc. I enjoyed both class'es and it gave me a great start. That's great news abt luring them up with lures, easy travel (snow mobile tracks) and I'll try the bottle on a couple sets first.

Just recently after I posted this I came across 2 local trappers. I won't mention last names but Cliff and Rooster have been very helpful.

thx Darren
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d elliott

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#5955755 - 07/20/17 10:21 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: red mt]
Reiver Offline
trapper

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Montana USA
thx
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d elliott

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#5955762 - 07/20/17 10:24 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Osky]
Reiver Offline
trapper

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Montana USA
thk u
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d elliott

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#5955777 - 07/20/17 10:41 PM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
Reiver Offline
trapper

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Montana USA
Great advice from all and I appreciate the help. I'm sure there will be more questions soon lol
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d elliott

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#5955845 - 07/21/17 12:32 AM Re: Wolf Trapping in Montana [Re: Reiver]
wolf1199 Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/15/13
Posts: 38
Loc: Northwestern Ontario
I can tell you now wolves have a great range when looking for for food. You might have them thick as thieves for two to three weeks then gone. Boundaries no one can determine that. And you would be a fool to think you could determine that. there are a few trappers that stated patience is the game and they are correct. Wolves work an area then move on, but they also return. You as the trapper has to realize is this worth my effort and cost to check plus time. Things have been slow here due to market conditions but I know I will hit my 250 mark this year on timbers. Snaring wolfs is easy, location and time is what plays into the picture.

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