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Brad Dokken / Forum News Service, Published January 13 2013

Patience pays off for brothers, wolf hunters

Grand Forks

Buzz Marvin and Scott Marvin have had the good fortune to hunt all over the world, but few hunting experiences, they say, can rival the gray wolves they shot last month on their hunting land near Skime in northwest Minnesota.

The storyline, in its barest form, reads like this: Two brothers, one stand, two wolves – within a period of less than 24 hours.

“We’ve taken a lot of trophies, but I think this is right at the top,” said Buzz Marvin, 67, who moved from his hometown of Warroad, Minn., to Fargo about 10 years ago. “You can go north of the border and hunt wolves, but this is something that’s in your own backyard.

“For Scott, it’s his home state; for me, where I used to live.”

The brothers, who were among the 6,000 people to receive licenses for Minnesota’s first-ever wolf season that attracted more than 23,000 applicants, drew tags to hunt the late season, which opened Nov. 24 and closed Jan. 3, when the harvest target of 400 wolves was reached.

And while the brothers each bagged wolves within 24 hours from the same stand – Scott took an 80- to 85-pound female about 2 p.m. Dec. 27, and Buzz shot a slightly bigger male at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 28 – the hunt wasn’t as easy as it might appear.

“I figured out I sat 65 hours, which in my experience is one of the recipes for getting one,” Scott Marvin, 57, of Warroad, said. “You’ve got to put in the time, and hopefully, you’re there when they’re there.

“There were times they were there and I wasn’t.”

Watching the numbers

Scott, who has hunted wolves in Alberta and Ontario and bagged a

100-pound male last year near Sioux Narrows, Ontario, said the most frustrating part of the Minnesota hunt was checking the Department of Natural Resources website every day and seeing the tally rise toward the harvest target.

The DNR required license holders to check the website daily, with the stipulation the season would end before the scheduled Jan. 31 closing date if the kill approached 400.

By late December, the number was creeping close to the cutoff point, and the DNR already had closed the northeast and east-central wolf zones, leaving the northwest as the only area still open.

“I was more concerned about that than anything, running out of time with a tag left in my pocket,” Scott Marvin said.

He already had been in the stand several hours when he saw some movement to his left.

There it was, almost like a ghost, a single wolf approaching the deer carcasses that had been placed in a clearing to attract an animal into shooting range. Minnesota’s wolf regulations allowed baiting.

The wolf was moving toward the bait when it suddenly made a U-turn and started walking back toward the woods. He raised his .300 Winchester Short Magnum, got the wolf in the crosshairs and squeezed off a shot before the opportunity disappeared.

“It took off like a flash,” he said. “I really thought I missed it. The tail was flat out and zoom, it was gone.”

He spent the next 20 minutes in the stand – “just ticked” – before climbing down for a closer look. There, about 30 yards into the woods, lay the wolf.

One to go

Buzz, meanwhile, was hunting in another stand about four miles away that had been less active for wolf signs. With Scott’s tag filled, Buzz moved to his younger brother’s stand.

The morning of Dec. 28 was perfect for hunting, Buzz recalls, with little wind, light snow and a temperature of about 10 degrees. He only had until about 10:30 a.m. to hunt, though, because he was planning to attend a grandson’s hockey game.

The clock was ticking.

“I’m sitting there thinking, ‘When am I going to get back?’” Buzz said. “Is the season going to close early because of the quota getting reached?”

He was getting ready to call it a morning and climb down from the stand when he decided to try a call that imitates the screaming sound of a distressed rabbit. The calls are widely used among predator hunters.

“I had barely set the thing down and it must have been within two or three minutes, this guy came walking out 215 yards away,” Buzz Marvin said. “You know it’s going to happen somewhere along the line, but when it did happen, it was excitement. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Like his brother, Buzz was using a .300 Winchester short-mag.

“It kind of trotted in,” he said. “It surprised the heck out of me the way it came in, and it made the mistake of stopping. It’s not a very large opening, maybe 30 yards across at the point where I was. He stopped right in the middle of that, so it was pretty fortuitous.”

Mounting plans

After calling in and registering their wolves, the brothers took the carcasses to Jim Benson of Sportsman’s Taxidermy in East Grand Forks, who skinned the animals. They then brought the carcasses and hides to the DNR area wildlife office in Crookston, where a variety of tissue samples were collected for further study.

Scott said he’s getting a full-body mount, pairing the animal with the wolf he shot last year in Ontario as a single display; Buzz said he’s planning to have the hide tanned but hasn’t decided whether to make it into a rug.

The brothers say they’ve seen more wolves on the property’s trail cameras during the past few years, but mostly after dark. Neither of them expected the state to reach its harvest target.

“It was pretty darn awesome,” said Scott, who has hunted across Canada, along with New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Africa. “The hunting I’ve been lucky enough to do, I still rate the timberwolf at the top of the trophy category.”

Buzz said the managed season should help improve the image of wolves, at least in northwest Minnesota – similar to what happened when the state implemented a bear season years ago.

“You think about the time when bears used to be a nuisance,” Buzz said. “Then they changed it to a managed program and it became a trophy. I think people have come to realize wolves are a trophy animal.”

Dokken writes for the Grand Forks Herald