By Eli Francovich
It was nearly 2 p.m. when Andrew Norby came upon a legal buck.
The Eastern Washington University student was hunting with his wife near Jump Off Joe Lake on Oct. 20. They’d spent the morning out together, but hadn’t seen any legal deer.
Norby, 21, shot the buck. His wife continued to hunt while he cleaned the animal and drove his truck closer to the carcass.
Several hours later and nearly done cleaning the animal, the light was fading. That’s when Norby felt as if he were being watched.
“I looked up and about 20 to 25 yards to my left, there was what I assumed was a wolf,” he said. “He just kind of snuck up on me while I was working with all the meat.”
Norby had taken “all but the little tiny scraps off the carcass” from his deer. But the wolf was hungry and aggressive. Norby grabbed his gun.
“He lunged at me once or twice, and I raised my gun each time,” Norby said. “For me, it kind of set a pattern. He’s aggressive, I’m aggressive. He’s not, I’m not.”
The outdoor recreation major grabbed the meat and started to back off.
“He kind of ran me off a little bit,” he said.
The wolf moved in as Norby moved out.
“I mean, it was cool after the fact,” he said. “Really, I was just more worried about the aggression itself.”
Norby said he didn’t fire a warning shot, or shoot at the wolf, because it would have been “a mess to try and explain to someone why I shot a wolf. I had no wish to be mauled or anything, but also no wish to go through that process.”
In Eastern Washington, wolves are protected by state endangered species laws, but are not on the federal endangered species list. The penalty for killing a wolf can be as much as $5,000 and/or a year in jail. In late August, a rancher shot a wolf, claiming self-defense.
A minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs was reported by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in March. As of 2015, Idaho had roughly 790 wolves in 108 packs.
“Honestly, doing the right thing, regardless of how I feel, is more important,” Norby said of his decision.
“We have rules and regulations for a reason, so you have to follow them.”