Wolf hunt crucial to area

The holidays are something I look forward to every year for a number of reasons.
We get to spend some time with friends and family that we might not get to see a lot of throughout the rest of the year, we generally eat pretty good, and most folks take a break from their hectic work or school schedules to relax.
The holidays this year were great. But it was a whirlwind of non-stop action for a week or so, so it was pretty nice to get back to somewhat of a more regular routine this week.
I’m sure many of you share the same thought.
Now into the new year, we’re back to work and, for me, that means a few weeks of guiding wolf hunters. For the past several years, I’ve been running my own little outfitting business, guiding mostly American hunters for wolves.
This is a controversial activity for some folks, but the fact is, we have an excessive wolf population right now across Sunset Country. As the deer populations rose to record high levels, the wolf population followed behind—and remains high even after our deer numbers crashed after a couple of harsh winters in recent years.
There is a proposal out right now from the Ministry of Natural Resources to remove the requirement for a special wolf seal for hunters. As it stands right now, wolf hunters need to have a small game licence to go along with their wolf seal, of which they can get two per year.
For residents, the cost for these wolf seals is small (about $11 per tag). For non-residents, however, the cost is bordering on absurd—coming in at over $400 for a small game licence and wolf seal.
One of the reasons for removing the need for a seal is to encourage more hunters to try and hunt wolves as a way to potentially help our hurting moose populations. It’s no secret that the excessive number of wolves has had an impact on the moose population, especially in regard to calf recruitment.
There are a lot of anti-hunting people fighting this proposal so it remains to be seen what is going to happen.
I’m in full support of this change because it might help to increase tourism in the region and it will help our deer and moose populations. Hunters who visit our area to hunt deer may be more likely to purchase a small game licence that allows them to hunt wolves because of the lower cost.
The small game licence for non-residents is around $120.
In the long run, I think that MNR revenues will increase because more folks will purchase this licence.
One thing I can tell you is that wolves are not easy animals to hunt. My usual strategy is to try to bait them with deer and moose scrapes.
This type of hunting requires the hunter to spend long hours sitting in a ground blind overlooking the bait sites. Although it’s been mild this week, it’s not the most pleasurable activity to sit in a ground blind all day during the winter.
I provide small heaters for my hunters, which helps take the chill off.
Wolves, meanwhile, are smart animals. For how many we have roaming in our woods, you really don’t see them all that often. Precautions must be taken to prevent wolves from smelling your presence or you will not catch sight of one.
The challenge is fun.
I’ve shot a wolf before and have a great hide that I had tanned. That being said, I personally have more fun trying to capture images of these wolves on my game cameras than I do actually hunting them.
In other news, ice conditions continue to improve around the region. Over the past weekend, my friends and I were out on a few of the smaller lakes on our snowmobiles.
There is still a lot of slush on most of these smaller waters, so the conditions are not ideal for getting around.
One thing that is slowing the ice formation on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake is that there is quite a bit of current flowing through both of these lakes right now, further hindering the quality of the ice.
A cold snap forecast for this weekend should really help tighten things up for snowmobile travel. But it is going to be at least a few more weeks yet before truck travel will be safe.
If you are getting out on the ice, travel with a friend and be careful.