Todd Wilkinson: With elk and wolves, someone is fibbing.

Todd Wilkinson has written another excellent opinion piece which appears in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. He compares the rhetoric coming from outfitters who complain that wolves are ruining hunting while simultaneously promoting their outfitting services by saying the hunting is better than ever.

So who are we to believe – the outfitters who insist wolves have ruined elk herds or the very same outfitters selling “elk hunting trips of a lifetime?”

Guest column: With elk and wolves, someone is fibbing – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Opinion.






  1. skyrim Avatar

    and so much for the wisdom of Bob Fanning. What do ya figure he did with all the money he collected to “spread the word”?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I wonder where all the money raised by the Idaho Anti-Wolf group went.

      There was some grand scheme lawsuit planned and people raised quite a bit of money for it but a nothing was never filed. They weren’t a 501(c)3 so there is no accounting of it.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Ken Cole,

        Earlier than this, Ron Gilett, the excitable motel owner from Stanley, Idaho was collecting money for a great lawsuit. That was never filed either. Where did that fund-raising go?

    1. DLB Avatar

      Wow, his time was worth $4 million dollars? That must be quite an hourly rate he values himself at.

      I noticed that he thought the Housing Bubble was a vast conspiracy and vaguely references some kind of background in economics. He would be disappointed by the fact that almost all the high level executives at the investment banks had no clue how leveraged and exposed their firms truly were.

  2. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Here’s a formula to win the easy money in Las Vegas bookie betting proposition. Find a Liar’s Contest . If it is a contest between a commercial big game outfitter from Wyoming or Montana, an ambulance chasing lawyer, a fishing guide, and a politician…go all in on the outfitter. They lie continually , with honed skill. The other three lie only when they have to .

    Concerning wolves and big game, Todd is absolutely right about Outfitters talking out of both sides of their…., uh , upper orifice. The one under the brim of the Stetson. here in the surrounds of Cody Wyoming—the anti-Wolf anode of polarized Wyoming— some conspicuous local elk outfitters who are the most vocal about wolves are the same guys who advertise such splendid prolific hunts , and have for years.

    But here’s a doozie. One local honcho outfitter who is currently running for county commissioner here, stood up at a meeting and began complaining about those darn nogood wolves killing all of ” his ” elk around his camp on the eastern boundary of Yellowstone Park. A retired outfitter stood up and called BS on that , ( paraphrased ) ” Shee-itt—ski…. YOU can’t hardly blame the wolves for your elk count going south when your hunters kill 45 bulls a year…”.

    Yup. The real machinery and operation of the Grey Wolf restoration is complicated. Maybe too complicated for the simple minded black and white narrow thinkers out there, to whom ” Wolf” is just a four letter word…

    Outfitters have always been their own worst enemies, in my long experience. On everything.

    1. Jay Avatar

      Like the old joke goes, how do you know when an outfitter is lying? Answer: his lips are moving.

  3. elk275 Avatar

    They is another article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle today by Denver Bryan, the photographer, about that Todd’s article. I am unable to find it online. Maybe some Internet jockey can find it. It is an interest rebutal.

    1. SAP Avatar

      Here it is, Elk:

      I don’t see it as a very good rebuttal. Denver Bryan basically says it’s ok for outfitters to “fib” (Bryan: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that no one in their right mind is going to advertise about how bad their business might be, or in this case their hunting.”)

      I don’t think Todd Wilkinson was saying that there are no elk populations that have declined. Certainly, there are some. But even the “poster child” elk populations like the Northern Range herd have complex reasons behind their declines. The upper Gallatin might be the one herd that really took a hit from carnivores, but that isn’t just wolves, either.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Like many other businesspeople, I suppose outfitters often have an incentive to shade the truth in both directions, depending on local circumstances as well as how they stand with their past clientele.

      2. SEAK Mossback Avatar
        SEAK Mossback

        I was wondering about the elk herd in the upper Gallatin area. The fall before last I spent 8 days hiking in that area in a loop in late-September up Specimen Creek, past High and Sportsman’s Lakes and over Electric Pass, etc. and did not hear a single bugle. I saw one bull elk on the ridge near Electric Pass and 8 elk on Mt. Sepulchur (behind Mammoth) while glassing until nearly dark from the pass (assume the latter may have been from the northern Yellowstone Herd rather than Gallatin). I know that’s major grizzly country and I saw lots of wolf scat, particularly on the trail connection between Fan and Specimen Creeks, mostly with elk hair but transitioning to moose hair on the south end. There were of course some elk tracks and wolves do use trails as travel corridors, probably more than do elk. Anyway, I was somewhat shocked by the small amount of elk sign and sound during that fairly extensive hike in the last week of September, although I had only been on the Gardner River side of it during previous trips when elk were more abundant in the park in general (and quite evident in the areas east of Fawn Pass).

  4. Dawn Rehill Avatar
    Dawn Rehill

    I read this in the Jackson News and Guide last week, gonna check out the websites myself and at the next meeting here in Jackson, I will ask the outfitters if they are lying to their clients, simple yes or no answer .

  5. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

    I read all the comments following the article. Stepping back and looking at it from an outside point of view it is rather obvious that the hunting community has some problems. Guides and outfitters are used to being the ethical standard for hunters . .not just in the west but everywhere. A hunter who needs a guide is looking for someone to help them harvest animals because they don’t know it all and they look up to those people, hence, they use the same guides year after year. This standard is being radically eroded over the wolf issue and in the big picture someday when the public is asked if they support hunting these kinds two faced representations on the subject will not be forgotten. After a visit to Cabelas I see that hunting is now being driven by marketing, gadgets, electronics and a mass of information wherein a lot of it is just plan false or wishful thinking. Guides and outfitters are the last good source of hunting information left . . they should take a good look at their overall picture before it is too late.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole