Wolf Sighting

I’ve thought that my chances of seeing a wolf in my lifetime were pretty good.

I’ve been in wolf country fairly often. British Columbia, Montana, Alberta and Alaska are the places where I expected to see a wolf. I’ve heard them in Montana three years in a row and observed tracks almost daily while hunting. I’ve seen wolf tracks in Alaska, but not wolves.

Yesterday I observed my first wolf while driving west on Highway 89 on the south side of Lake Almanor. California !

I’ve had my share of inaccurate sightings in my life time-just ask my brother, Rob, who pays no attention to me when I look up and shout, “peregrine!” Only to realize a moment later that it was some other raptor.

However, when it comes to this wolf, it was a no-brainer, so before I start talking myself into thinking I was wrong, I’ll explain why I was right.

A wolf running across a road is a better view than seeing one running in the woods. The light was perfect, but in the woods, the shadows and trees could have made it difficult to be sure.

It didn’t look like any live animal I’ve ever seen before. It was a very large canine, and it loped across the road with long bounds. It was about the same size as the wolf I have mounted life-size in my office, on which I’ve had plenty of time to practice my visuals.

wolf mountIMG_0091

This black wolf (the one in my office) came from Alberta. And, it is a big one. The wolf I saw yesterday appeared to be just as large, if not larger, and it was gray.

I reported the sighting to CDFW and also at the Forest Service Office in Chester. Figured they’d be interested. They seemed so. I also placed a pin on my IPhone GPS and emailed the exact location to the interested parties.

I searched the edge of the road to see if I could find it’s tracks, but could not. If I hadn’t been on my way home, I would have invested more time in follow up searching, but you don’t really need tracks to know what you saw.

Hard to believe that nobody else has seen this wolf.

Apparently it is a lone male wolf, out searching for a female. The deer zone he was in the C Zone and there are currently plenty of deer for him to eat. Also, there are plenty of dead deer along the sides of the highways. I saw at least one or two every day while I was at Almanor.

It would be nice if somebody else sees the wolf to confirm my sighting, but if not, I’ll be the only one who knows for sure. And I’m convinced it could have been nothing else.







Open Zone Tag, Too Much of a Good Thing?

California has some great hunts. They are great for several reasons. First of all they have some giant bucks. But, they also have very limited hunting pressure. Where are these places? They are everywhere, but they have very limited access.

In each of these units, wide antlered 4×4 mule deer bucks are killed each season.

That’s a big part of why they are so good. There are basically four ways to get an opportunity to participate in these hunts. Perseverance is one. If you are able to spend a lifetime waiting and applying, you may get drawn for one of these great hunts.


This is my largest mule deer buck from California, taken with bow and arrow in zone X12.

Or, if you are willing to purchase lottery tickets for a drawing for one of these tags, you may be successful.

If you become a California Hunter Safety instructor, you will get an opportunity to draw for one of these tags within that group of volunteers.

Or, if you are willing to pay a significant sum of money at auction, you may be able to purchase one of the tags that will allow you to participate in one of these hunts.

IMG_1470 Rich and buck

I’ve never killed a truly large buck. But, the Bob Marshall buck pictured above is one that I’m proud of. It would be quite exciting to bag a large California buck.

I personally participated in two of the above-described methods for obtaining an Open Zone Tag, but after doing so for many years, I finally grew impatient and decided that there was very little chance that I might obtain a tag in that manner and therefore I concluded that purchase of a tag at auction was my only option – the other option would be to grow old regretting.

Now, an Open Zone Deer Tag is in my possession. But what next? There are about a dozen hunts that are very exclusive and attractive that I can participate in as long as I haven’t filled the tag.

One advantage I have is that I am willing and able to hunt with several types of deer-hunting equipment. Archery has been my number one choice for hunting over the years. More recently, I’ve begun to hunt with a muzzle loading rifle and a high powered rifle.

These later options are very productive, however, hunting with archery equipment is still a viable option as some of the archery seasons are very limited and provide for a significant success rate.

Although I haven’t finalized my plans, I do plan to hunt a couple of the most productive archery units during August. Two of them may well be X5b and X2. X5b is located in eastern Lassen County and X2 is located between Alturas and the Oregon border.

It will be tempting to spend a few days in some of my old haunts where I haven’t been able to draw a tag for years.

There are several muzzle loading hunts that have high success on big bucks. Among them are the Doyle Muzzle loading hunt in zone X6 and the Devil’s Garden Muzzle Loading hunt in X2.

As for rifle hunting, the Anderson Flat Hunt, the Round Valley Hunt and the Goodale Rifle Hunt are exceptional. The good news is that they are all options. The bad news is that I can’t be everywhere at once.