In many places where elk roam free, wolves do too. Like any predator, wolves live in areas where they can procure food, meaning areas with an abundant supply of prey. Elk fulfill that need. Wolves and elk thrive in the same conditions, such as cold climates, forested wilderness, and mountain ranges.
At one point, wolf populations were threatened in the United States, but many segments have met and surpassed recovery goals. Some states that offer premier elk hunting also allow hunters to harvest wolves. The states that currently allow wolf hunting are Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Hunters with a big-game animal tag in those states will often carry around a wolf license just in case the moment arises, as it did in the following video, that an unexpected canine visitor interrupts the hunt.
This video, from Living For the Rut, shows the lead-up to such an encounter. Two bowhunters are slowly and meticulously attempting to call an adult bull elk into range. There are two elks on film. Step by step, their chance inches closer. The bull elk stares down the camera as tension builds. And then suddenly, somewhere around the video's seven-minute mark, the elks turn and dash away. The hunters look around, and then they spot the threat. "Wolves!" they whisper.
The elk hunters quickly shift gears towards the wolves. There's a pack of at least six of them. Once the hunters engage, the wolves quickly disperse into the brushy cover of nearby woods. The hunters stick it out and make a strategic shot as one steps into the open.
So, despite targeting elk, the hunters filled a wolf tag, so it's still a successful day. They made the best of a potentially bad situation. The hunter does not come home empty-handed, they did a little predator management, and the rest of the pack lives to fight and hunt another day.
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