In about December of 2011, a radio-collared wolf moved into Northern California. It took over four years for a different wolf to reach my home. In between those dates, wolves have settled in California and at least one pair of wolves has raised a litter of wolf pups.
During 2012 through 2014, I became somewhat involved with wolves in different ways. While volunteering for the Mule Deer Foundation, I served on a committee of wolf Stakeholders. I did my best to make my opinions known to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as they created a Wolf Management Plan. (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Stakeholders)
While hunting in locations where wolves are common (Canada, Alaska but primarily Montana) I gradually became more familiar with wolves in the wild. During Montana hunts in 2013, 14 and 15 I heard wolves howl and eyed tracks almost daily. All the hunters in our camp possessed wolf tags in anticipation of having a shot opportunity. A few hunters in our camp had sightings of wolves, but no shots were fired.
On those Montana trips I observed mule deer, elk, moose, a big-horn ram, black bear and two grizzly bears – but no wolves. On one occasion a wolf howled very close by. My guide and I expected to see the wolf, but did not. Later we found the tracks of two wolves that had been standing about 150 yards from our position.
Wolves have become a reality in my life, but I have yet to see one alive.
At the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in February of 2014, I attended a Friday afternoon auction where a trapping experience was auctioned. I purchased the trip with a bid of $1,500. The donor was Trent Packham of Groat Creek Outfitters. Trent lives about 60 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta.
Eventually we scheduled the trip for early January in 2015 and I purchased ticket to Edmonton for January 3rd, 2015. I began building up my wardrobe of cold-weather clothes.
I expected temperatures as low as any I’d ever before experienced, but it was still a shock to my system when Trent called the day before my departure and told me that it was minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Edmonton. I told him I planned to be there the next day.
Then I laid awake that night and envisioned the drive in my rental car in sub-freezing weather through sixty miles of unknown territory. I have to admit that I didn’t want to take that challenge on and in the morning I cancelled my trip.
No regrets, but a couple weeks later, Trent sent me a photo of wolves he had trapped. He said that one of them was the largest wolf he had trapped up to that time. I mulled it over and concluded that maybe I should have a trophy from the trip I did not take.
I called Trent and asked him the price of the cape of that wolf. He came up with a number – $882 USD out the door. Then I asked if he knew a taxidermist who could do a good job of mounting the wolf – life size. He said that Scott Holman was the go-too guy and gave me his contact information:
SCOTT HOLMAN TAXIDERMY
661 24TH ST.
BRANDON, MANITOBA, CANADA
204 725 4474
Now it was quite a trip from Alberta to Manitoba and then to California, but this wolf puts OR7 to shame when it comes to miles traveled. The cost of taxidermy:$2205 USD. Just in case your thinking you might want to do this, here’s the breakdown.
Scott sent me photos of various poses and this is the one I selected.
Scott built the wolf and occasionally checked in. A couple months ago the wolf was finished, but then he had to wait for a CITES permit. Cost of the trip from Manitoba to Livermore: $671.04 USD.
It took about three weeks for the crate to make it through customs in North Dakota and then on to California. The crate arrived last Friday March 19, but it will be a while before I am ready to open it. Here’s a photo of the finish product as taken by Scott Holman.
Can’t hardly wait to open my present, but it may take a while to finish creating his final resting spot.