HOW TO HUNT AND TRAP WOLF
HOW TO HUNT AND TRAP WOLF
There are several varieties of wolves in the United States. The prairie wolf, of two or three different kinds, is but small, and is easily trapped or shot. He is not so destructive among sheep as the large gray wolf of the timbered country, and it is about these that I shall have the most to say. They are confined to no particular location, but travel about from one place to another. Still they have their particular routes, as from one swamp to another, and where their course brings them near a settlement, they sally forth at night to steal a sheep, if these are kept out and are not penned. Killing sheep is a business they understand, and they will cut the throat of one about as slick as a knife can do it. They are greedy creatures, and always want to kill the whole flock. I have known as many as thirty to be killed in a single night by one wolf,—nothing done but to cut their throats. When the she-wolf can find an old bear's den, she will take possession of it to have her puppies, usually about the last of April or the first of May. These follow her all the summer and fall, when they start off on their own hook to see what they can catch to eat. When deer are plenty, it seems as though they could catch one whenever they please. I have often seen how they operated, one or more running directly on the track, and one on each side. After a short run, they would close in, and the venison was sure to be taken. There seemed to be no possibility of escape. In fact, they are great hunters; some will hide in a run-way, while the others drive the deer along. I have often heard the gang, belonging to an old slut with an old dog in company, set up their how-de-low, from the blow of a conch shell to the barking of a puppy dog, screech and scream, all at once,—utter confusion.
It is no sign whatever that they have caught anything because they make such a noise, although when one wolf catches game or finds a deer or any such thing, he goes off a short distance and sets up a howl that makes the welkin ring; and when joined by his comrades, they go together and feast on their booty. While the wolf is calling the others together, should you remove the bait or body, when the pack return with the one that caught it, and they find nothing there, the unfortunate beast pays with his life the penalty of his false alarm. Wolves often catch deer on ice, and while they have gone to call the pack, men have often removed the body, and then from a safe distance watched the tragedy I have spoken of.
To my mind the wolf is the shyest creature I ever tried to get a shot at, and to catch one in a trap you must use the same caution that I recommended in trapping for foxes. Never touch the trap with your hare hands, unless you are going to set it under water.
The best way to trap wolves is to take the carcass of a dead horse or other animal and draw it to a spring-hole, and then set your trap exactly as recommended for bears.
Wolves may be poisoned by the wholesale. Where there are wolves in the country, they have, as I said before, regular routes over which they travel several times during the winter. By close observation you can learn about when they will be along,—within a week or so, at any rate. Now hunt up an old horse that is about to die, lead him to the spot that you have selected, kill him, and skin him. Take pieces of lard about the size of a hazel nut, and slices of tough flesh from the horse large enough to thoroughly enclose the lard. Spread the lard a little on one side of the flesh, and sprinkle upon it. as much strychnine as can be taken up on the point of a knife blade. Mix this with the lard; then roll up the meat neatly and tie it slightly, so that the strychnine cannot be exposed on the surface, and lay it down on the carcass of the horse. Put about a dozen of these baits exactly where you can find them at any time. When you come asrain to examine the place, as many pieces as are gone, just so many dead wolves you may expect to find within two or three rods of the spot. I have known a whole gang to be killed in this way in one night.
Foxes may be killed in a similar manner, only very much less strychnine is necessary. When the wolf, the fox, or any other animal is killed with strychnine, the carcass should be burned at once, lest fowls or other domestic animals get poisoned by it, and the hide should be immediately tarred with alum and salt, as described in the chapter on dressing skins. If this is delayed, the hair and fur will come out and spoil the looks of the skin. If wolves kill a sheep or calf, or any other creature, for you or your neighbors, take the body to some place out of the reach of domestic animals and put poison about it as above directed, and you will be sure to make them keel over.
You can so scent your boot soles with a mixture made of the oil of rhodium, oil of fenugreek, oil of cummin, and flour of sweet fennel, as to make the wolf follow your track or trail. By going far into the wilderness and traveling among the swamps, you can fetch the wolves into your neighborhood, but they are not pleasant neighbors to have.
Thrasher, Halsey. The Hunter and Trapper. New York: Orange Judd and Company, 1808.
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