Thursday, August 21, 2008

My dad, the mountain man

My dad is awesome. He grew up on a farm in Idaho and has a more pragmatic approach to animals than the average person. I have memories of watching him shoot rabbits with a bow and arrow from our bedroom window. We occasionally ate roadkill. Not the gross flattened rotting stuff, but fresh, clean-killed deer. The best venison I ever had was from a 9-month old roadkilled fawn.

So last week he had an escapade with a roadkilled wolf. Here is his story:
Today at 7:30 am I had a wonderful find. At noon it was quickly taken away. The only things remaining are the memories of an eventful morning. No one can take those away. I even failed to take any photographs, which I could have easily done.

While driving on I-90 this morning about 30 minutes from home, I spotted a road kill as the car in front of me swerved to the right to avoid running into it. I made the same maneuver to avoid hitting it. As I drive past I observed the coloration of a very dark coyote, but it was much too big for a coyote. I took the first exit possible to return for a better look. As quickly as I returned, I dragged the carcass out of the right lane of traffic. As I grabbed its hind leg, I knew it was a wolf. The paws are much too big for a coyote. A young female weighing about 55 pounds. Its neck was broken, only one tear in the pelt, and still warm. I loaded the dead wolf into the back of the truck and drove on to the Austin chapel. After arriving in Austin, I skinned the wolf, put the hide in the refrigerator (in a plastic bag), and put the fat-free carcass out on the grass past the back parking lot.

By late morning I called my brother Steve to share the joy of my find. As our conversation closed, Steve asked me if I had contacted the State Department of Natural Resources. The implication of the question was it may be illegal to possess body parts of an endangered species animal. After I finished my sandwich at lunch time, I found a statewide toll-free phone number for the DNR. Within 20 minutes after making the phone call, I was visited by a Game Warden. He asked a few necessary questions and seized the carcass and pelt and left me only with a copy of the seizure tag.
I'm still not sure what my dad was planning on doing with the wolf pelt, although I strongly suspect he was going to tan it. It would have made a great wallhanging!


  1. I think it's so cool that your dad wrote this to you...
    My dad also grew up in a rural setting, on a farm near the Montana/Canadian line. He is not much of a hunter anymore but used to be. I wish he were a man of more words though - so nice that your dad is a writer too!

  2. He isn't a many of many words, but every so often he'll write something like this to me. He is a very good listener, though.

  3. If it was already dead, why couldn't he keep the pelt?

  4. My dad grew up near mining towns in colorado. Telluride to be exact. He knows those mountains so well, and goes back every year or so for a cow elk, or doe. I much prefer the meat of wild game to anything store bought.
    Venison jerky is damn good.

    He says Austin in his story. Refering to Austin, Tx or no? Would be funny if so, my parents live in san marcos, just south of Austin. My dad recently retired from being Austin paramedic for 28 years.

  5. Austin MN, not TX. He was doing building maintenance there that day.

  6. What a neat guy! Is that where you grew up?

  7. That is unfortunate. I don't think I would've told anyone. If it was ignored on the road, people would have continued to assume it was a coyote.

  8. I feel bad for your dad. But I also understand why the officials are interested--it should be sent to researchers who can find out about the health of the local wolf population, some areas even maintain a DNA database on certain animals. Hopefully, that is what will happen. Maybe if there's somewhere to inquire, he could get the pelt back after examination. At least this way, by phoning it in himself, he's not going to get charged at a later date when someone notices he happens to have a new wolf pelt on the wall and mentions to someone....
    My uncle sits in his bathroom and shoots the raccoons in the trees outside. It makes for interesting conversation the first time a visitor goes to the 'powder' room, LOL!


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