The Bounty Hunters by Juanita Amero
Is the cry of the wolf a mournful farewell? Or is his moonlight song an announcement of his return? The answers to this would be different in different parts of the world I suppose. There are many reintroductions going on through the Americas and much debate on whether there should be efforts in other areas. We hear it in the news almost on a daily basis in some aspect or other. Man seems to hold the card on how the wolf thrives in our future, if at all. This has been true throughout history in the time of the outlaw wolf as well. The men who hunted and trapped the wolf are as colorful as the outlaws themselves. Men of great ability and endurance, the best of the best if you will. Here I will tell of three of those past wolf bounty hunters as they stand out in history.
Let’s meet Roy T. McBride. Probably the most famous modern-day trapper is Roy T. McBride who is also known as a legendary mountain lion trapper. Not so long ago in the year 1970, McBride was credited with taking one of the last outlaw wolves. This wolf was known as Las Margaritas. As was a trademark of most highly sought outlaws, Las Margaritas had a unique calling card of a track missing two toes on his front left paw. This extremely leering and elusive wolf had evaded countless attempts to trap him for many years. Roy T. McBride finally caught the wolf after almost a year of effort as wolf bounty hunter.
McBride was also the trapper chosen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to live-trap the last few wolves in Mexico for the Mexican wolf captive breeding program. As well as being an avid outdoorsman, he spent years of study to earn a master’s degree in biology, probably the only bounty hunter known to have this education.
Going back in time a little farther, we would meet Bill Caywood on a rocky trail or hardwood ridge as he followed an outlaw.
A 1939 issue of Outdoor Life magazine described him as “so good at his job that there’s almost no job left.” This description was well earned. He has many outlaw wolf pelts to his credit including but not limited to: Rags the Digger, the Cuerno Verde Gray, the Butcher Wolf, and most of the Keystone Pack. Most of his work was done in Colorado.
Bill Caywood was one of the many hunters and trappers hired by the U.S federal government to kill wolves for the biological survey. Over the winter of 1912-1913, he killed 140 wolves, earning almost $7,000, a remarkable sum for the time.
Mr. Ben Corbin was his name and hunting wolves for bounty was most definitely his game.. Ben Corbin was a hunter who worked the Dakota Territory and was responsible for the death of hundreds of wolves. When he was not toting a rifle he had pen in hand. He was also the author of “The Wolf Hunter’s Guide”, a book published in 1900 that became the bounty hunters’ bible. In this book he is know to have called the wolf “the enemy of the state.”
The driving force behind these bounty hunters seemed to be the government or one of its agencies. How ironic today that is it the same body of parliament that is now funding the reintroduction of the outlaw wolf’s grandchildren. Government and their laws seem to swing with the will of the people. When man feared the wolf, agencies responded by putting out bounties to soothe the fear. As the howl of the wolf quieted, man seemed to long for the lonesome song and protection followed. I believe there is room for all creatures. I believe each one has its place in the circle of life and we only cheat ourselves when we try to eliminate a link.
The strong will survive, the weakest will fall. Wolves have fought a brave and long fight for their survival, and deserve respect for the great predators which they are. I for one, welcome their return.