Photo from Detroit Free Press - Two DNR official examine a hunted wolf
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - A man from Rives Junction in Jackson County was the first to report a harvested wolf as Michigan's controversial first wolf hunt opened today.
The man, who declined to give his name due to "death threats" he said he's received in the past from hunt opponents, shot a 75-pound, male gray wolf just after dawn in the Baraga Plains area of Baraga County.
The hunter said a pack of five wolves came toward him, fleeing from another hunter's wolf call.
"I had my pick of them - there was a white one even bigger than this one," he said, adding he chose the wolf he shot because of its full coat.
The wolf was shot from about 300 yards away with a .338 Winchester Magnum rifle, the hunter said.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician Brad Johnson removed a pre-molar tooth from the dead wolf's mouth as it lay in the hunter's pickup truck bed at the DNR Baraga wolf check station. The tooth will help wildlife researchers determine the age of the animal, he said.
"This one, I would say, is three or four years old," Johnson said.
The hunter's tag, looped through the field-dressed wolf's eye and upper lip, was replaced with a DNR seal.
The successful hunter said he has hunted a variety of game animals throughout the U.S., and regularly hunts for bear in the Upper Peninsula.
"I used to partridge hunt up here, too, but stopped because I feared for my dogs because of the wolves," he said.
Wolves have deeply impacted the area's deer herd, the hunter said.
"We used to have great hunts, big hunting parties spending money locally and buck poles full of big bucks," he said. "I stopped deer hunting up here six years ago because you no longer see the deer like that."
While chatting calmly and appearing low-key, the hunter admitted satisfaction in participating in Michigan's first hunt.
"I'm excited," he said. "It may never happen again. I might not ever have another chance, if voters have their way. When this goes to a vote of the people, people below the bridge shouldn't have a say, in my opinion. They don't have to deal with them like these folks up here."
Detroit Free Press