Montana wolf hunt: Hunters not obligated to eat wolf kills

Article on what do you do with a wolf you shoot this time of year-

Hunters not obligated to eat wolf kills. By Rob Chaney. The Missoulian.






  1. JimT Avatar

    Why pretend, really? They are not interested in anything but killing the wolves and hanging a trophy on the wall…

  2. Peter Kiermeir Avatar

    Now that I have learned on this blog that some consider bears and cougars and coyotes “suitable for food”, I´m somewhat relieved that seemingly nobody actually intends to “cook a wolf”. But who knows, maybe somebody will come up with a recipe in due time. And yes, from the discussions on this blog I´m in the meantime also fully, if reluctantly, accepting, that sometimes the hunt is for the trophy only! If you need it, Sportsmen, do it! After all, it´s your privilege, if maybe a little bit archaic. Now, the article says (quote): “That means hunters are not legally obligated to keep the carcass (of a wolf), other than the pelt and skull. It’s illegal to waste any parts of other game animals that are fit for human consumption.” I do not ad hoc remember the source but if I remember correctly there are indeed tons of valuable elk meat (not the gut piles) wasted annually because you are only obliged to take out a certain amount or specific parts of the carcass to fulfil the legal obligations? Means, if your prime interest is the trophy, you only take home some of the meat to remain legal and leave the rest to the scavengers?

  3. mikepost Avatar

    Peter, every where I am aware of if you did not at a minimum take the hams, shoulders and backstraps/tenderloins off a game animal like a deer or elk you would be cited for wanton wasting. That is the majority of the useable meat, particularly if the locale is so rugged that you have to pack out the meat. I know many who also keep and eat the heart and liver and will save the ribs when they can.

    If wolf tasted good, things would be worse….

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    same with bear. i know a guy that got cited for wanton wasting of bear last year. he won’t be hunting this year and he paid a fine.

  5. BrianTT Avatar

    In Idaho you must take all the edible meat from an elk including front and rear quarters, backstraps, neck meat and the meat covering the ribs or you can fined for wanton waste. Basically all you can leave are bones, guts and hide.

  6. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I wish hunters did take that much meat. Hundreds of hunters (most all outfitter clients) per fall in Thorofare would have their elk “quick quartered” by the guides. Of course the guides quartered as the outfitter directed them.

    By Wyoming allowing vague interpretation of quick quartering …usually more than 70# of meat was left on each adult elk carcass. One can take varying amounts of the front depending on where one pops the quarter off and for the hind not getting close to the socket means a lot of meat left.

    The way outfitters did it didn’t even require skinning nor gutting. Thus, you can easily deduct there were no filets taken. “Taking of meat” meant there was no respect for this law or ethics of hunting in Thorofare. Those checked at the game stations and passed through (all outfitted carcasses) meant the Wyoming game wardens cared even less. The excuse I always heard from those wardens was, “It is better the elk are killed back there than along the roads in the late migration hunts”.

    Of course the outfitters best and most frequent way of minimizing packing meat out was for the guide to cape and skull plate the animal any animal killed in the evening and then take this back to camp ….and leave the whole animal on the ground overnight. No brush to keep the ravens and eagles off the carcass either, I might add. Then when the guide and hunter came back the next morning, lo and behold a bear was on it 90% of the time. Thus, there was no meat to pack out…and photos to prove this “tragic event” mean those at the check station said “sorry” to the client who had no meat to take back home.

    As for the heart and liver I could have bet 100 to 1 odds this meat would stay with the carcass and made a fair amount of money. The only heart I ever saw taken in 30 years of patrol was from an elk “butchered” on the sand bars of the Thorofare River. The outfitter was trying to cut through sand covered raw meat and dulled both his and his guides knives. Then he wanted to use mine and the guys with me. I, instead sharpened his knife on a river rock several times….the same way I saw knives sharpened in Mexico.

    After it was all through and the 4 “quarters” were on the sides of ONE pack horse this slob of a man says,’Where is that heart? The hunter said he wanted it”. We found it camouflaged like a rock. There was not one bit of red showing. It was just a higher bump in the sand. I asked if this was it and this outfitter…a guy who had 86 hunters booked in the 7 week hunting period….picks it up with both hands and plops it down on the middle of the sawbuck. A bit of blood and sand ran out of the cavities with this bounce.

    Yes, some fine upstanding hunting going on in the state of Wyoming I must say. And if you don’t believe me, Ryan, it was witnesses by my District Ranger and his brother in law, a former federal meat inspector and now outdoor editor for a large Michigan newspaper.

    This former meat inspector had to turn and walk away half way through this exibition of animal quartering. Of course my district ranger was such a dud he never got it and was wondering why his brother in law didn’t stay to watch how outfitters packed meat out of the mountains.

    I could go on. There were a lot more ways to get rid of meat on the way out…like dump overloaded pack horses quarters in the willows along the trail. The guys doing it would tip off the other help to watch for bears in these places but of course never told any private parties coming in. It all was so sleazy in a lot of those camps…and it is all so hyped in magazines like OutDoor Life. Yuck!!

  7. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Sorry, the one I was the post by mikepost. I wrongly thought it was by Ryan.

  8. gline Avatar

    I am not buying into the cute little argument that “wolf tastes good” and that is why we are hunting them line.. interesting but offensive.

  9. Aaron M.C. Avatar
    Aaron M.C.

    I don’t know how many people value this, but it is against God given law to eat the certain unclean animals, as explained here:

    Lev 11:27

    “And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on [all] four, those [are] unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.”

    I’m sure that what he means by “whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even” is that you don’t go into the action of eating the animal, or don’t touch it after it has been rotting. But you can skin the animals, the Isrealites were able to do that, they skinned foxes. But I don’t promote eating wolves for this fact.

  10. mikepost Avatar

    Gline, get a life and read these postings intelligently. The comment was “if wolf tasted good things would be worse”. Meaning, if you could add a subsistence hunt (wolf in the pot) argument to wolf hunting, it would make it even harder to deal with the wolf hunting issue. Too many folks here see the word “wolf’ in any context and freak out…

  11. mikepost Avatar

    Bob, I eat heart all the time, but won’t touch liver. I have friends who beg for the heart or the liver before they want meat. I have seen quite a bit of elk heart sliced and sauted in garlic and butter…youv’e led a sheltered life (just kidding)…

  12. Sal_N Avatar

    Montana has already one kill, North of Yellowstone Park

  13. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Back to basics here. A wolf is a carnivore nearly the entire year. Carnivore meat is most likely strong in taste. We are what we eat, kind of argument. And, of course, we know wolves (like some bears and cats) are not too particular how fresh their protein is. So, their diet also includes some pretty nasty organic decomposition compounds, including putrescene and cadaverine – the really smelly stuff which likely carries over to the meat eater. Although, colder months when most kills are done might keep the prey meat from decomposing as fast, or at all in some locations. Not much meat on a hundred pound wolf I expect, with those disproportionately large paws, long tail and large head.

    So that gets us to the trophy aspect. I don’t recall if in the Idaho Wolf Plan, and accompanying questionaire they asked questions about what one would do with a wolf if they hunted and got one. Hair on tanning of a hide, I am told, is kind of expensive, maybe $400 or more to do one. Full body mount is likely twice that. Who has the money, much less wants that? (Note: You just might be a red neck if……. your annual taxidermy bill exceeds your dental expenses.)

    This, then gets us back to basic state desired numbers control and the underlying arguments we have all been discussing and have different views about.


    You will be happy to know I have never left an elk heart or a liver in the woods in over twenty years. And for those who find liver an acquired taste, a little tip – small, very thin pieces, coated in flour, and fried in a little teryaki sauce with onions, bacon and garlic, and served on a bed of white rice. You could even add some more veggies for a stir fry.

  14. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Not much fanfare with the first Montana wolf shot.

  15. DB Avatar

    I like venison but it was by far the least of the reasons I hunted deer and elk. What if I didn’t like it, should I not hunt? Or should I swear my game was given to someone who did (and should they be required to eat it)? I think these laws tht require not “wasting game” are a little shaky. they impose someone elses values on my motives for hunting. I think we’re all being a little too defensive for why we hunt. Frankly I think it makes sense to require leaving a portion of our kill for the wolves, coyotes, magpies and ravens.

  16. Ryan Avatar

    ” Frankly I think it makes sense to require leaving a portion of our kill for the wolves, coyotes, magpies and ravens.”

    No then bears begin to associate gunshots with free meals, its already a problem in many areas.

  17. mikepost Avatar

    DB, all ethical hunters will reject your position because it damages our credibility in an already sceptical society. It also smacks of self-serving laziness. You can give your meat to a food bank or your friends but your position leaves the field wide open to thrill killers and other forms of knuckleheads that I as a responsible hunter do not want to see in the field. You leave your meat in the field for coyotes and ravens, I will be happy to turn you in, and then you will have no hunting opportunies at all.

  18. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    ” Frankly I think it makes sense to require leaving a portion of our kill for the wolves, coyotes, magpies and ravens.”

    That could lead to habituation.

  19. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    My professional life revolved around patrolling outfitters. I consider them the worst of all ethical hunters.

    My private life was filled with a lot of hunting and fishing and now I sell a lot of field slaughtered bison meat to private customers a quarter at a time. We have used a lot of lockers both out West (wild game) and in Iowa through the years for bison. Most I consider not very good when it comes to handling meat. Their world is based on fast return economics. If I want to hang a carcass for 21 days then this means the hanging cooler is tied up for my animal as compared to three beef if they are hung 7 days. They will try to give every excuse for not wanting to hang any more than to get rigor mortis out if they can.

    I relate this because the elk and deer you eat are true herbivores. They have the training from ancestors so they know what broad leafs are edible and when. The farmed animals are mear grassivores since a herbivore without training means these animals are limited to what they can eat instinctively…grass. (This is similar to what omnivores have for choices. They can eat an animal with no training but to eat vegetation it takes a lot of instruction).

    Now for the real kicker. Many broadleaf plants have aromatics (volatiles in them). Thus “game” has a lot of distinctive flavors compared to domestics …. who are real retards when it comes to eating. But these volatiles will dissipate out of the meat over time. Hang for 7 days and they are still there. Hang for 14 and the strong flavors start going away. Age for 18-21 and it is gone.

    For example, my buffalo are true herbivores because I raise them in family groups. Thus they learn from their ancestors. Each year they come up with something new to eat….and know when the right time of year this is best eaten.

    The last couple of years it has been poison ivy. They love it in the spring and they won’t touch it for the rest of the year. Do a taste test on carcasses after they have been eating this and you would think buffalo is the worst tasting meat in the world. Wait the twenty one days and you make a prince charming out of a toad.

    Thus all the discussion of what tastes good and what doesn’t mostly relates to lack of knowledge on the hunters part. The plains indians, according to Colonel Dodge, quite the wild game conniseur himself, said those indians had over 500 ways for preparing and cooking bison, alone.

    Since they weren’t into the French chef thing then one has to realize we lost lots of knowledge by not finding out how they prepared their game. What I know from preparing and trying hundreds of elk and bison doesn’t come close to what they experienced.

    As for liver, my brother, as nutritional physiologist at ISU, did a comparison test with our six month old frozen bison liver and fresh beef liver from a grocery store. Ours had over 19 times the fat soluble vitamins as the grassivore domestics. This is why the Indians ate liver and kidney raw and was the first to be eaten of all the animal parts.

    But back to others problems with liver. We don’t, but we advise or customers, if queazy, to marinate the strips in milk overnight. It evens out the flavor…..then you can prepare it anyway you want. This is what the restaurant chefs do around here with catfish that comes from the Mississippi river. Lots of different flavors, too many to taste test for, so it goes into the pans of milk overnight.

    And if any of you want our TGBison cookbook it is in e mailable form. Just let me know and we will e mail it over to you. Some of our recipes have been chosen for some of Meridith Publications national offerings… and also has lots of good preparation tips (ever try marinating tough meat in baking soda paste.? It is the only way I know of tenderizing without leaving the marinate flavor). Just rinse it off after two to three hours or overnight in a zip lock … and viola, soft as all get out.

  20. Ryan Avatar


    I have killed a few rutted out big stinkies over the years and 14 days in the lockers makes em all taste good. We are very lucky to have our own walk ins which makes all of the difference.

  21. nabeki Avatar

    This is most telling sentence in the article. “Montana FWP commissioners have declared gray wolves a “species in need of management” Management is a euphemism for killing wolves.

    Minnesota has 3000 wolves in a much smaller territory but somehow seem to get along with wolves. Killing wolves for sport is just wrong. They don’t need to be “managed” because ranchers, hunters and outfitters don’t like them. Woves are natural dispersers and will manage themselve quite nicely.

    The vilification of wolves in the west is a truly sad, sad legacy. After fourteen years of recovery we’ve come to this.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan