Rancher helped rid farms of howls in the night
By Molly Ryan
NORTHWEST HOUSTON — During a time when Northwest Houston farms were pestered by wolves snatching up chickens and calves at their liking, one local rancher, Charles Grisbee, stepped up and sent a message to the predators: Wolf Corner.
Grisbee, a dairy farmer with a ranch off Jackrabbit Road, started hanging dead wolves in the 1950s at the corner of FM 1960 and FM 529, which became known as Wolf Corner.
“He would do this because wolves were getting the baby calves and lambs,” said Celeste Haltom, Grisbee’s niece. “He was very proud of it because he was helping all of the other farmers and ranchers.”
At the time when Grisbee hung the wolves, Harris County collected a bounty on wolves, foxes and other wildlife. The county began collecting the bounty in 1955, according to a Houston Chronicle article published in 1970. Hunters who turned in the ears of the animals they killed to the county clerk would receive $5 for each kill.
“On Jan. 1, 1970, Grisbee collected $140 for 27 wolves and a fox killed in the Cypress area during 1969,” the Chronicle article reported. “He has earned $645 in bounty money in the last four years.”
Despite the large payoff, Grisbee, who had been hunting wolves to protect local farm animals for about fifty years, told the Chronicle he hunted the wolves as a hobby, not for the money.
“I help out people who call, and it mostly just pays for the gasoline,” he told the Chronicle in 1970.
Since Grisbee’s collection of wolves on Wolf Corner was so large, it often drew attention and visitors from inside of the city of Houston, Haltom said.
Barry Bogs, Grisbee’s grandson, remembers driving out to Wolf Corner to look at his grandfather’s killings when he was a child.
“I remember going over with my father and grandfather and smelling the wolves from the corner,” Bogs said. “The telephone guys had phone boxes there, and they did not appreciate the smell.”
The practice of hanging wolves on fence posts was common in areas where the animals threatened livestock, according to a Chronicle article published in 1968. The people who hung the wolves believed other wolves would avoid the area upon seeing their dead companions. It also let local farmers know that a neighbor was looking out for their wellbeing, Haltom said.
“At the time, [FM 1960] was the main thoroughfare, and Wolf Corner let all of the farmers and ranchers know he was helping them,” she said.
Grisbee used steel traps and cyanide guns to kill the wolves, and he continued to hang wolves at Wolf Corner until he became ill in the mid-1970s. Around the same time, Harris County also stopped paying a bounty for wolves due to complaints that the bounty was ineffective at controlling the predators, according to the Chronicle.
“It was a labor of love,” Bogs said. “People highly respected him for having done it, and it was something he loved to do.”