The wilderness gets a bit wild
Doug Smith, Star Tribune
October 30, 2005
A lifelong hunter, Marv Sherva has spent lots of time in the woods all over North America. He's seen a few wolves in his day.
But never eyeball to eyeball.
Not until last weekend, when Sherva, 59, of Coon Rapids, was hunting ruffed grouse in the woods near his cabin about 17 miles southwest of Hibbing in northern Minnesota. Toting a 12-gauge shotgun, Sherva was walking a deer trail with Buck, his 7-year-old Brittany, when the pair encountered a pack of wolves.
Buck almost became breakfast.
"He was maybe 40 yards ahead of me, and he went up over this little rise, and a heck of a fight broke out," Sherva said. "It sounded like a bobcat at first. I ran up there and could see it was wolves."
There were three or four of them, he said. And they had Buck, who weighs 51 pounds, on the ground.
"There was one black and silver, and I shot twice at it," Sherva said. "And off to the left one came running right at me. I pulled the trigger and nothing happened."
His gun momentarily jammed, but Sherva managed to get off one more shot. Sherva said he hit the wolf, but he doesn't think he killed it because it ran off with the others. The entire encounter lasted perhaps 15 seconds, he said.
He went back later, found his empty shotgun shells and determined the last wolf was only 30 feet away when he fired.
"I'll never forget those gold eyes coming at me, I'll tell you that," he said. "It was unnerving."
But, Sherva said, he was more concerned about Buck, who escaped from the wolves when the gunshots were fired.
"Another five seconds and it would have been over for him," he said. "He was kind of beat up, but I didn't know how bad it was until I got back to the cabin."
Sherva took Buck to a veterinarian in Hibbing, who used 20 stitches to close wounds on Buck's hip, front leg, neck and face.
"He's one very lucky dog," Sherva said. "He seems to be fine now."
Sherva reported the incident to the Department of Natural Resources. Wolves, of course, are protected in Minnesota under the federal Endangered Species Act. A person who kills one could face a year in prison or fines up to $100,000. But the law provides exceptions if a person or his property is endangered. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said the agency handles such incidents on a case-by-case basis.
Sherva said he has no hard feelings toward the wolves.
"I know it's a wolf's job to kill and eat," he said. And he knows such encounters are extremely rare. "It's just one of those freak deals," he said.
The incident won't keep him out of the woods. He plans to spend a week up north hunting when the deer season opens.