Keep It Simple For Wolf Success
By Toby Trigger

Posted: January 28, 2017

I remember sitting in a wolf trapper orientation class about 6 years ago with instructors who had a lot of experience trapping and hunting wolves in Alaska and Canada.

Wolf trapping and hunting opportunities were new and there wasn’t much information availible for Montana and Idaho trappers.

Our instructors rattled off info about setting up huge bait stations and how wolves made wagon wheel shaped trails in and out of kill sites.

Then talk of dirt hole sets and a long list of lures and visual things like flagging on a road to get the wolves to spook and run off were offered.

Other trappers I know tried using deer hides wrapped around trees and big gut piles buried in the ground with traps bedded beside them.

These sets can and do work occasionally  but they are complicated and draw interest from people who think it’s okay to steel expensive traps from hard working people.

So what’s a trapper to do?  Looking at the recent reports from areas like WMU 250 where after 44 days of the 2016/2017 trapping season only TWO wolves have been trapped.  It is obvious what most trappers have done.  We’ve hung up our traps and given up.

Wolf trapping is tough there’s no question about it. But wolves leave trails and pee-posts all over the forest.  This season I set just six traps in one Bitterroot drainage.  I made one set near an existing pee-posts and didn’t add anything to the set. Other locations had minimal gland lure rubbed onto nearby rocks or tree trunks.  Another set was made with a big cow femure as a visual.

On the second trap check a big dark wolf stood in the trap made with no scents or lures added. All the complicated sets made with lures, baits and visuals failed where the set made with the existing wolf sign succeeded.

Tracks in the snow showed that several wolves had been in the drainage but none went near the traps made with other canine scents.

As trappers keep working to learn about wolves and behaviors the most successful sets keep getting more and more simple.

 Try setting up a wolf trap line by studying the sign the wolves are leaving and leave that jar of gland lure at home.  As we keep learning about this animal, keeping it simple might be the best thing we can do for wolf trapping success.