Calling Wolves

6mm Remington

Well-known member
Nov 4, 2014
Westen Montana
Face To Face

In early December Collin who is a good friend of mine and I went out west of Huson up in the mountains to try and call in a coyote or a wolf. Out of the two animals we both were hoping that we might be lucky and have one or more wolves respond as we both wanted to take one. I would be using a dying rabbit mouth call, a coyote howler, and I was also going to try howling like a wolf using my voice if we heard anything. We each have Labrador Retrievers and we took our dogs so they could run around and get some exercise with us. My previous experiences of having a dog with me while calling coyotes showed that it worked to calm the coyotes down and it distracted them. We both know that wolves will kill a domestic dog but our animals would most likely not be more than 30-40 yards away from us at any given time and we would be able to see them.

Collin and I parked and started walking in the recent snow which was roughly six inches deep. We stopped a couple of times and attempted calling without any luck as we continued to get farther away from where we had parked. When we were about 1 1/2 miles from the pickup we found a spot that looked like we should try calling. I positioned myself on a corner sitting tight to the uphill bank of the gated road we were walking on. Collin decided to drop down below the road about 20 yards or so to be able to see below us and have a different angle of visibility.

My Lab Clover and I were hanging out for a few minutes while I waited to give Collin time to get into position. I wanted to give it some time for things to calm down before I started using my predator call or howler. I had been sitting there for just a few minutes when all of a sudden here came Collin storming up over the bank of the road with his dog following closely behind. Collin had a frazzeled look on his face and I could tell that something was not quite right. He told me that he just came face to face with a bear! Below the road about 20 yards was a large blowdown tree. Collin had walked down the steep slope and when he got to the tree he took his dogs leash and looped it over one of the roots of the tree and ran the lead through the hand hold on the leash. He then attached the leash to his dogs collar.

Collin had finished doing this and turned to walk a few steps away to position himself next to the fallen tree where he was going to watch for any animals that might respond to my calls. Just as he turned Collin looked down into the root area of the tree where there was a hole underneath the tree. In the black of the hole Collin could see two eyes looking back at him! He recognized right away that it was a black bear staring back at him, and that at about 6 feet he was much much too close to it! Collins dog Birdie was attached to the tree roots behind him. For whatever reason Birdie did not bark or growl and was so close to the bear that it had to smell and know that the bear was there.

Collin quickly got his AR-15 rifle that was slung over his chest pointed in the general direction of the bear with one hand as best that he could, while with the other hand he unhooked Birdie from the leash secured to the tree root. Once that was done the two of them quickly hustled up the hill to the road. As I looked down the hill from the road I could see the dog leash still attached to the tree roots as it was hanging down. (Look on the right side of the pictures. You can see the vertical line of the leash hanging down.) From up on the road we couldn't see the hole under the tree and we couldn't see the bear. Collin told me that his recollection of this brief encounter was that the bear was a "mature bear" and it was a black bear. He also told me that the bear seemed to be "pretty lethargic" which would make sense as it was recently denned up for the winter. Before I could get my dog Clover stopped, she had finally figured out that something was going on and was sniffing the air about 10 yards from the tree root. I quickly got her called back to me. I'm certain that she smelled the bear but she didn't react like I might have expected her too. There was no barking, growling, or any other indication that she was very alarmed about the close proximity of this black bear.

Collin on the other hand was not very lethargic at all! He just had a pretty good adrenaline dump and it showed. I couldn't contain it and I had to laugh as it was pretty funny. What are the odds that the old retired SWAT cop would choose the very same tree to hunker down behind that the black bear had chosen to be its winters nap location! I am happy to report that no black bears were harmed during the making of this story! Collin on the other hand might not have faired as well and could very likely have a couple new gray hairs to report. I'm glad it didn't come down to a fire-fight as Collin was armed with a wimpy .223 Remington rifle which is not a very good bear caliber, but at least he was shooting good bullets in it.

The dog leash is still dangling from the tree root. Collin will be going back in the spring after the black bear has awakened from his deep winters sleep to retrieve the leash. I wouldn't be surprised if the bear does not come out at some point and investigate the leash and maybe take a bite or two out of it. I guess we'll see!

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