Montana Hunters Kill Wolf in Self Defense

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

Two hunters were surrounded by six to eight wolves when trying to pack out an elk kill in the Flathead Valley region of Montana. According to initial reports the hunters shot into the air to spook off the wolves and eventually abandoned the elk kill. When trying to vacate the area, the hunters were followed by the wolves and one wolf was killed.

The Missoulian has an article up on the incident. From the article:

After making lunch and drawing the horses nearer to the meat to begin loading the elk quarters in a pannier, Appleby said his horse, named "Shotgun," spooked. When he turned around, he saw between six and eight wolves "running at us 30 to 40 yards away," according to a written statement he filed with FWP.

He and Pitman fired rounds from a rifle and a sidearm into the air to keep the wolves at bay, but the pack continued to howl, scaring the horses and forcing the men to abandon the meat.

As they trekked back out to their vehicle along Deep Creek Road, having abandoned the quarters, backstrap and tenderloin, the wolves followed the men.

"We got about 50 to 75 yards down the road when the wolves were howling right next to us on the side of the road," Appleby wrote in his statement. "I said, ‘The bastards are following us, maybe trying to kill us or the horses.' I told Raymond to shoot into the trees at them as we were trying to get away down the road. And that's what he did." also has a video and story about the Flathead Valley wolf attack.


jim boyd's picture

While there may be some holes

While there may be some holes in the story - one clear truth remains - wolves did come and did act like they would attack or MIGHT attack.

I say - err on the side of caution - even if you are forced later to answer to authorites for shooting a wolf (or bear)!

I also say it is better to be judged by twleve than carried by six... I am not sure if the wolves would kill you - but they might.

Add he fact that the carcass was eaten upon by wolves AND a grizzly bear and you just flat have a dangerous situation - regardless of how you slice it (no pun intended).

It is easy, from the comfort of your arm chair, to sit and judge what you may or may have not done in that situation - that is not true when you are faced with what you could well consider a life and death experience.

Just for the record, hunting in an area with wolves and bears present (mountain lions too, most likely) - and you are riding a horse in rocky terrain - I do in fact consider that a life or death situation - just being thrown by a spooked horse could kill you.

I would ask all naysayers and doubters to walk a mile in these men's shoes before they judge... it is not a situation that I would be envious of, I will tell you that.

Thank God they were not hurt and that all is ok... one dead wolf is not gonna make or break us - but a dead human to a family is life altering.

My .02.

Great story and very thought provoking.


Scarey turn of events

Sounds like something out of a movie.  Wolves sure seem to appear in a lot of places at just the right time for them to be so rare.  That one small pack of wolves are really busy covering the whole rocky mountain range like that. Wow.  Im glad these guys werent injuried in the chaos.  This wolf issue is getting more and more headlines. 

"Experimental", "NON

"Experimental", "NON ESSENTIAL" project FAIL. These wolves should never have been brought to the lower 48, which was done only through CRIMINAL means. Every person involved with the transportation from Canada, and release of this non native specie should face criminal charges. I feel that a certain grizzly attack, resulting in the death of Mr. Kammer, was due to the fact that this moma griz was starving, and had to feed 3 cubs,which where also very malnourished and starving, in a area void of prey, due directly to this wolf project. Time is up for this experiment turned disaster. Restoring our region to have the eco system we had prior to 'Canadian' wolf introduction may never happen in my lifetime. 

Save a herd of elk this year, Kill 1 'Canadian' wolf !!!

CVC's picture

I will be straight up with

I will be straight up with you. At first blush your post seems a little over the top, but then I thought, well maybe there is some truth to what he said about it being criminal.  This wouldn't be the first time our government has ignored the law or the Constitution to do something they wanted.

So, please elaborate on why the wolves were brought here illegally and that it was a criminal act.  I'd like to hear more about why you believe this to be true.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Just an unbelieveable story. 

Just an unbelieveable story.  I did think in some states though that the head was the last thing supposed to be taken.  Isn't that a regulation in places, or just a recommendation?

Hopefully these guys are let off, and not taken behind the woodshed for this.  Sounds like they have enough proof that this pack was following them, even after they tried to retreat.

hawkeye270's picture

I think you bring up some

I think you bring up some very valid points ecoroamers. I just think there are a lot of guys that would like to see wolves managed like other game species that are not threatened. I think that Idaho and Montana came up with reasonable management strategies and that their first year (and only at this point) of wolf management was a success. Wyomings plan was absolutely rediculous in my opinion and rightfully so, they were not given management of thier wolf populations. Like I said it really comes down to the question of if wolves are recovered at this point.

 That is where the debate centers right now in the courts. Are they threatened any more or not? Well based on the delisting guidelines laid out in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that deal with pack size, number of packs and overall population levels... they are recovered and thus should be delisted.

ecoroamers's picture


A terratory predestined by nature to support these creatures, then along comes man kind in his infinate wisdom annihilating a species.  Then man feels remorse, and  chooses to protects this species, alowing it to once again propigate and prosper, but not to the magnitude that it once was.  Then when the creature chooses to look for food the exact same way as a man does, by hunting, with the exception of the firepower, they are threatening that mans way of life.  BULL!  If we as hunters ,and I am an avid hunter, choose to enter their backyard or domain, then we as hunters, ranchers, farmers or whatever should expect to encounter these animals and learn to respect their ways of existance as well.  If you feel like they are taking something away from you, or are a threat to you, maybe you should consider a lesser form of entertainment, like golfing.  As for me, if I am in their domain, and it is theirs, I will always respect that, and if they want the meat so be it.  If they were to attack me, then it will be the survival of the fittest, and I would not hesitate to defend myself with whatever means are necessary, law or no law. 

CVC's picture

I think that hunters

I think that hunters understand that when they go hunting they are likely to encounter dangerous game and they may become the prey.  It just goes with the territory and I don't think any one suggests that wolves are doing anything other than what wolves do.

The issue about wolves and other dangerous game is when they enter populated areas and threaten non-hunters.  Yes, I realize that their range is shrinking and man's is encroaching upon their range, but what is the solution?  Do we limit the human population (yes maybe we should) so that we don't need more space/

The other issue is when wolves are not properly managed and threaten other species like elk.  Wolves must be properly managed to balance their existence with other species including man.

As far as protecting yourself, the law always allow you to kill a wolf or big cat if your life is in danger.  No question about it, you can protect yourself.

hawkeye270's picture

Not sure what's hard to follow

I am not sure what is hard to follow about the statement, "wolves have not put constraints on themselves through their culture." I think if you read the statement again you will find the answer to your question, "Do you really think animals put constraints on themselves?"

As wolves do not have near the cognitive ability that we do, it would be impossible (given what we understand about animal cognition and behavior) for animals to put constraints on themselves. Hope that clears it up for you.

CVC's picture

Actually that does clear it

Actually that does clear it up.  The way I interpreted your original post  was that you were suggesting that the wolves did have the cognative ability to put constraints on their culture which is opposite of what you intended and what I believe.  Just having a bit of a dialogue on an interesting story so I hope you weren't offended that I asked the question.  Remember, tone and intent don't always come across clearly in posts.

Animals are different than humans and it seems that you understand it, but part of the problem of human-animal interactions come from humans projecting human intellect and motivation on them.  A lot of animal lovers just don't really seem to understand the animals they profess to love and care for.

Thanks for the clarification.

hawkeye270's picture

I really think that them

I really think that them having to ditch the meat is an interesting idea. The ONLY reason that this happened was because of confines that we have put on ourselves as humans. At any other point in the natural history of the world, that meat would have been getting fought for. We are predators... wolves are predators. Because we have evolved such cognitive abilities, and thus the tools to protect ourselves, those men should have been walking away with the meat that they harvested.

From the other side, the wolves have not put constraints on themselves through their culture. They saw a chance at taking meat from another predator and took it. We do not rely on that meat for our survival... they do. But the only reason why those hunters had to give up that meat was so that they wouldn't be punished once they got back to "civilization". All very interesting.

CVC's picture


"From the other side, the wolves have not put constraints on themselves through their culture. They saw a chance at taking meat from another predator and took it. We do not rely on that meat for our survival... they do. "

Not sure I follow you.  Do you really think animals put constraints on themselves?  Man is the only one that voluntarily puts constraints on themselves.  Wolves do not think through situations.  They are pre-wired to act instinctively the way their ancestors acted.  They can learn different behavior, but it is a reaction to a situation, not a pre-determined outcome.

So, yes, since they know man generally is not a threat they felt bold enough to steal the meat.  They have no fear which means they think they are at the top of the food chain.  And, if you read those comments posted by cowgal, some people think they are at the top too.

cowgal's picture

wolf pack

What blows me away are the comments on the last linked story.

There are people that feel that wolves have more rights than people!! Amazing.

CVC's picture

Whether threatened by a

Whether threatened by a two-legged predator or a four-legged one, a person has the right to defend themself even with lethal force.  It is always unfortunate, but sometimes it is necessary and justified.  I can only imagine what the hunters felt when being stalked by a pack of wolves.  It had to be quite the hair-raising experience and the hunters did the right thing in protecting themselves and their horses.

The hunters are also to be commended for using good judgement and knowing what is important.  They abandoned the meat (a real bummer) in an attempt to protect themselves without killing the wolves.  The meat was not as important as not having to kill an animal.  But the wolves left them no choice.

outdoorsman121's picture

wolve story

I couldn’t imagine the feeling of having wolves following you after you harvested your game. And too leave all the meat because of this, is just a shame. Wolves are starting to increase even in NY where I live. If I was the hunter in this situation I would like to say that I could handle it in a calm and responsible matter. But the fact of the matter is, if you leave the meat behind and the wolves walk past the meat and continue to follow you, I would have to say that my thinking process would be telling me that they want me and that they were going to attack me! And in that case I would probably start shooting to protect myself. And if one of the wolves gets killed then I would have to tell myself it because I was protecting myself. So if these hunters did it felt threatened then I believe they might have done the right thing. But if they did it because they were angry then in this case they made the wrong decision.