Wolves Kill Hunting Hounds
WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS!!!
This is not the first time this has happened nor will it be the last. I recently hunted with a houndsman who told me that wolves respond to a hound’s baying like its the dinner bell. Unfortunately, two good dogs were lost this time. Hopefully the open season on wolves will lead to less of this sort of thing. Read the harrowing story of loss and survival below the photos.
Here is the story of that I recieved:
I have not posted anything about lion hunting for awhile. I just finished my first semester of college at the University of Montana where I am studying wildlife biology. I got home for winter break and have been able to get out quite a bit lately. My friends and I have treed several lions and we have taken two. Yesterday my friend and mentor Mel invited me to go with him and another fellow named Jay who has two young dogs and a tag for our area. At about 6am we headed up into the Yaak area of northwest Montana. At about 2pm Jay found a track so he turned out his two dogs (Top & Lilly) and I also turned out my two (Elvis & Earl). They took off through the woods but they lost the track where the cat had crossed the Yaak River and had then doubled back across again. Mel and Jay walked downstream to gather dogs and look for the track while I was searching the far bank. We eventually lined out the track and put the dogs back on it. It was tough going so Mel put in his two good dogs (Brody & Fancy). The cat had made a third river crossing and the dogs were now on a fairly fresh trail. Since part of our plan was to get Jay’s dogs Top and Lilly some experience we grabbed Earl and Fancy and put them back in the rig. At this point we had four dogs heading up over the mountain. We drove about 2 miles up a nearby road to try and close some of the distance. We finally got bogged down in very heavy snow and the Garmin Astro collars were saying that the dogs were still about a mile above us and that they were treeing. We headed up on snowshoes but the going was VERY difficult due to deep snow and thick alder brush. It took about 90 minutes to hike to where the dogs were supposed to be. As we were hiking we saw on the receiver that Jays dog Lilly was running. Since she is young he just thought that she was running a back trail. As we continued to get closer we could still not hear the dogs. At about 500 yards the astro showed that the dogs were still treeing but since we could not hear anything we became concerned that the system was not working right. As we got close we had to get out our lights as the sun had set and we could no longer see. We hiked on and soon the screen showed that the dogs should be right in front of us at about 50 yards. Eerily there was absolutely no sound in the woods. We found the tree surrounded by tracks where they had put up the lion. We immediately began calling out for the dogs. Jay saw some blood by the tree and we assumed that a dog must have cut a pad. Jay started shining his light down the hill and saw two eyes shining about 30 yards away. He started that direction and seconds later we heard him start yelling. Mel and I ran down to where he was and saw something no houndsman ever wants to see. There in the snow surrounded by blood were two dead dogs. I instantly thought that one of them was my good dog Elvis. My heart was pounding as I got closer. When we got to them we had to check the collar since part of his head was gone. We ultimately discovered that it was Mel’s dog Brody and Jays dog Top. I could not find Elvis anywhere. I could only imagine that the same thing had happened to him and that he was lying in the brush nearby. As we tried to get over the shock of it all we slowly pieced together what had happened. It became very apparent that a pack of wolves had attacked our hounds as they were baying at the tree. Brody and Top had been killed instantly at the tree and then drug about 30 yards away where the wolves had started to feed on them. The eyes Jay had seen were those of a wolf eating our dogs. Lilly had obviously run away when the attack occurred but there was still no sign of Elvis. We were all sick about what had just happened but we needed to get down the mountain and try and find Lilly and hopefully Elvis. It was as tough going down as it had been climbing up, and when I broke a strap on my snowshoe I didn’t think things could get any worse. I have hunted these mountains many times but I have never experienced fear like I did on that hike. The thought of the wolves behind us, the dogs that had just been killed and of the two that we could not find were about all I could handle. With broken snowshoes I had to “posthole” most of the way back to the truck. We finally got back to the trucks and our missing dogs were not there. Before we got out of that deep snow we had to winch ourselves out about five times. It was getting very late and I was both mentally and physically exhausted by the time we got back to the paved road. We were due for some good luck and right then the collars for Lilly and Elvis lit up the screen and appeared to be about 1 mile ahead of us on the main road. As we got close I could see Lilly by the guardrail so I jumped out to grab her and began yelling for Elvis. I immediately heard barking down below us by the river. I jumped the railing and began calling to him. With my flashlight I could see Elvis and he appeared to be lying in the ice on the bank. As I got closer I realized that he was actually in the water and was too exhausted to pull himself up on to the edge of the ice. I was able to reach out to him and pull him to safety. I don’t know how long he had been there but he was shaking so bad I did not know if he would survive. We warmed him up in the truck as we headed for home which was still an hour away on icy roads. As I write this, Elvis is still so stiff and sore that he can hardly walk but since he is not yet 3 years old he is plenty strong and will be back on the trail soon. I have no idea how he was able to escape the wolf attack and near freezing to death in a river. All I know is that I am very fortunate to have gotten him back. I have not talked to Jay yet this morning but he had put so much time and energy into training Top I can only imagine how crushed he is. I talked to Mel and he is very frustrated, not just because he lost a great dog but also because he called a local game biologist who told him that our dogs were killed not 500 yards from a known denning site. According to the biologist they don’t publicize information like that because people might disrupt the wolves.
R.I.P. Brody and Top, I hope the hunting is good up there in heaven.