A WOLF HUNT
I thought I would tell how one of my skunk hunting trips turned out. During February, 191S, there was quite a soft spell and the skunks had began to travel, as the mating season is in the month of February. So one morning I hitched up and loaded into the light sleigh or cutter what I thought I would need on my trip, consisting of an old axe, shovel, some traps, a light lunch for myself and a feed for my horse, besides two guns, one a .22 short Stevens visible loader and my Winchester carbine .30-30 and a hatchet for the belt, and also my Airedale, Vic, a good skunk dog. I had to drive some ten or twelve miles to what we call the Buena Vista marsh. Here I found a good place to house my horse in an old hay barn.
After seeing that he was all O. K., I took my .22, belt and hatchet and with the dog started out. There had been a light dust of snow fallen some time the previous night, so all tracks were pretty fresh. I traveled about four or five miles without seeing any tracks except a woods grey fox. He seemed to be traveling about the same direction as I was, as I crossed his tracks several times, but didn't follow him, as they sometimes travel a long way before they rest, especially in the mating season. I kept on for some time, but saw no skunk signs, so I had turned back toward the rig, when I found a track that puzzled me at first. Thought it might be a dog, but not being satisfied and as it was pointed the way I was going, I followed it until I knew it had been a wolf. Not that I am green on anything like a wolf track, but he had spread his toes and had gone very slow, to stay on top of the snow, as there was quite a crust formed; but if he had been going at his natural gait, I would have known immediately, as I have hunted wolves a great deal in my life.
But to return to my yarn. I knew that my .22 was pretty light to start after wolves with, but thought I would follow him as far as the drainage ditch and then I would go to the rig, some two miles distant and get my carbine and give him a try. So I was walking along, thinking like that, when up jumped Mr. Wolf in some small willows and big grass and started running nearly straight away from me at about five or six rods distance. I opened up on him with my light artillery. I fired three or four shots and I knew some of them took effect by his actions, as he turned and snapped at his hind parts. But where was the dog all this time? She was right on hand; as she saw me shooting, she commenced to jump and bound to see what was up and she got her eyes on the wolf and I saw as pretty a race as I ever saw. The wolf turned down an open slough that was covered with a glare of ice and the dog took a cross cut and had good footing. When the wolf saw the dog coming he started to speed up, but his footing was poor and the dog kept right on gaining until they reached the woods and there she broke through a drift and took a tumble, but was soon on her feet and going some and that was the last I saw of that race until the finish and that didn't last so long. But the dog was ahead and the wolf was a close second; but am getting too fast myself, so will back up.
After that wolf and dog were out of sight, what I said wouldn't look well in print, but I told myself a few things about an old hunter
carrying a bean slinger. But nevertheless I followed on after the dog and did not go very far until I heard the dog making an awful fuss, barking and crying and all kinds of noises, so thinking she had the wolf stopped, I commenced to sly up to try to put in a finishing shot, but found her barking in a large hole in the ground and as I came up could plainly hear Mr. Wolf growling and I thought he was just in a little way, and I could get him out with my hatchet. But the ground was frozen awful hard and as I was not very well equipped if he happened to slip out, I got some old oak stubs that were handy and stopped him in and went down and got the horse and drove up as close as I could get to the place, took the old axe, shovel and my .30-30 and started in to dig him out. First I shoved a long stick in the hole to find out which way it turned, but couldn't find the wolf. So I stopped up the hole and went over about ten feet on top of the hole as near as I could tell and chopped through the frost with the old axe and then took the shovel and opened up a pit about two or three feet square and about four feet deep, when plunk I dropped through into the hole. But I got right out again and not very slow either, expecting to get my hind leg nabbed.
But nothing doing, so I got the dog and went back down in the pit and let her nose around and she wanted to work back toward the entrance, so I let her go. She could walk right into the hole and she was soon out of sight, but she wasn't out of hearing, for I soon heard her and the noise she was making was some; but she was coming closer. Ah, where is the gun? Just out of reach, of course. Made a jump to get it, but couldn't quite reach. One more try, with better success. Turned back to see the dog backing out of the hole with Mr. Wolf hanging to her nose. Before I could get the gun to bear on him, he let loose and ducked and my chance was gone, as the dog refused to go in and pull him out with her nose again and I didn't blame her a bit. After some time spent in trying to get him to show himself, without success, I finally threw the sand back in the pit I had made and opened up the entrance and chopped the frozen ground and followed the hole until I came to where it forked, then I shoved my long stick I had for that purpose, in the hole, turning to the left and had got about eight feet of the pole shoved in, when biff! it was nearly yanked out of my hand and after using all my strength, I pulled Mr. Wolf to about four feet of daylight and then he would let loose and go back only to do the same thing again.
So I thought, I'll fix you, so I cut out some more dirt and made the entrance large enough so I could get down in it and move around and then took my stick and gun and got down ready for business, shoved the stick in, looking for a bite, which I got right away. I pulled, he would hold and come just so far and then drop his hold and go back. After making several tries I knew about when he was going to let up, so I got my gun ready and I shoved it down side of the stick and pulled the trigger. Bang! The stick dropped loose instantly and of course I thought I had punctured him, and I wasn't alone with the idea, and here is the finish of the race, with the dog ahead, for when the gun cracked, all the dog's courage returned, for she had great confidence in the crack of a gun and she was awful anxious to shake up that wolf for what he done to her, so right down over my back and head (as I was stooping over the hole) went the dog and she couldn't get into that hole fast enough and believe me, she came out just as fast, or a little faster than she went in and the wolf was a mighty close second. But this time the old man (meaning yours truly) was all ready for him and that wolf don't know he is dead yet, for I put a .30-30 bullet square between his eyes and then the dog had her revenge, for she sure tore into him right after he was helpless. I took the carcass to the town chairman he gave me a chairman's certificate for bounty. I took this and the scalp, which I removed in his presence, to the county clerk and collected $20.00, which is allowed for killing a wolf in this part of the State. Some counties pay more, so that trip hunting skunk wasn't so bad after all.
Wood Co., Wise.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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