An Old-Fashion Russian Wolf Hunt Using Flags

by Tim Jones

Geographic Focus of Article: Russia

Issue: May 2013 | Article ID: 3091

This report on a dead-of-winter wolf hunt in Russia is so intriguing we had to pass it along. It’s from British hunter Mark Brackstone, who hunted in late February 27 near Kirov, about 500 miles northeast of Moscow. His hunt was arranged by The Stalker Group. Brackstone reports that all three hunters in his party took at least one wolf. He took two and describes the trophy quality as “fantastic!” The wolves, he says, were wild and in great condition. What’s really fascinating about Brackstone’s hunt is the way in which it was conducted, using a traditional method called “flagging.” Basically it involves locating a pack of wolves in the forest and encircling their location with a long cord (sometimes several kilometers) to which is attached cloth flags that retain human scent for several days. The wolves are reluctant to cross the flag line and will stay corralled within the flags unless pressured.

Brackstone tells us, “They have many people in different areas looking for wolf and lynx for the hunters. We’d get a call and set off for the area where they had the wolves flagged. We would travel anywhere from 100 to 300 kilometers by 4x4 truck to the location. From the road, we would take a snowmobile to within a couple of kilometers, and then travel on skis to the flags. This isn’t really skiing, just walking on skis in snow that’s three feet deep, but hunters should still be moderately fit. This is not a good hunt for older, infirm, or very unfit hunters. “The temperatures averaged 25 below zero. It was bloody cold!! You have to stand very still for two to five hours. So, you need plenty of chocolate for energy, plus very good cold-weather clothes!!! “The three areas they had flagged for us were very big, over 1,000 acres. They stand you on the ground within the flags, and you wait while they try slowly to move wolves. If pushed too hard, the wolves will bolt across the flags and escape. We encountered two different wolf packs. From one pack of seven, we shot two and locals shot two as they broke out of the flag line. There were five wolves in the second pack, and we shot two. Incidentally, we are rifle men but were asked to use shotguns with ssg (buckshot) in the very heavy cover. I got two wolves and friends got one each. This is a very exciting hunt, like going back in time.“We likely would have gotten more wolves, but our hunt finished two days early, as my pal went down with pneumonia. They handled his problem fantastically, had a doctor with antibiotics waiting for us after a six-hour drive and even put us up for a night in a four-star hotel at their cost. “Hunting accommodations were in log cabins, a little basic but the norm for Russia. Meals and equipment were good; the service was excellent.

“I was a little worried about this hunt, having heard horror stories about Russia. But I think this was probably one of the best organized hunts I have been on anywhere in the world. Their meet-and-greet was tip top, as was the help with customs. Anna, a partner in the company, was a delight to deal with. I have hunted on five continents, and Stalker Group was the best outfitter I have ever encountered. I cannot praise them enough.”

Originally published at

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