Gray wolf

Gray Wolf eats Bounty Hunters

It all started in Dawson City in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Dawson City is about 50 miles east of the Alaskan border. The year was 1953, and the people of Dawson were having a wolf problem. A large gray wolf was visiting the city at night and killing pets.

Then one day, this wolf came into town and took Laurie Smith, a two-year-old toddler playing in her backyard, just before sunset.

This happened right in front of her mother, who was working in the yard just a few feet away. The mother was horrified. She started screaming, and she immediately chased after the wolf with a shovel.  The wolf had a problem getting over a wooden fence with the toddler, so he dropped her at the yard’s edge.

This was Laurie’s lucky day because she escaped with a puncture wound on her arm and a dislocated collarbone. The quick reaction of her mother saved Laurie’s life.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police organized a search for the wolf

The smith family reported the incident during a town meeting that included several members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Many of these townspeople were very upset because they had also lost several pets to this large gray wolf.

It was decided that the police would send Blair Johnson, a well-known trapper, to kill the wolf.

Blair was Albert Johnson’s grandson, also known as the “Mad Trapper of Rat River.”  Albert was a fugitive whose actions from a trapping dispute eventually sparked a massive manhunt. Albert was located and killed during a gun battle on the Eagle River on February 17, 1932.

Blair was considered to be the best trapper in the area.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police put a large bounty on the head of the wolf, which inspired Blair to go hunting.

The large bounty also got the attention of several other trappers in the area, who decided to go after the gray wolf.

They named the wolf "Takaya"

The townspeople named the wolf Takaya after another famous lone wolf who lived in British Columbia in the 1920s.

The bounty posters were placed all over Dawson Creek, along with the posted reward of $250, which was a lot of money in 1953.

It didn’t take long for Blair to kill the wolf and bring him back to Dawson City to collect his reward. However, after close examination, Mrs. Smith said, “this is not Takaya. This wolf is way too small.”

A big disagreement broke out between Blair and Mrs. Smith. The argument was settled about a week later when Takaya returned to the city and took a pet goat.

Blair apologized and went out for another hunt the next day.  This was the last time Blair was seen alive. A few days later, Blair’s body was found about a half-mile into the forest. It appears that Blair did find Takaya this time, but the question was, “who was hunting who?” 

Blair had noticeable marks that a wolf had killed him, and his arm had been chewed off and was missing.  Many of the trappers also hunting Takaya decided to end the hunt because now they were dealing with a man-eater.

The bounty was then raised to $750

Dawson City is considered as a ghost town

During the late 1890s, Dawson City was the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush. The population was about seventeen thousand people. Most people moved out at the turn of the century because the gold rush was over. The population had dropped to about eight thousand people.

This left many houses and buildings vacant. It was rumored that Takaya might live in one of these vacant buildings. That would explain why he keeps coming into town to kill. Maybe he already lives in town.

A wolf possie was formed to go through more than 2000 vacant structures to find the grey wolf.  After searching for about a month, it was determined that Takaya wasn’t living in town.

Maybe Taykaya is living in one of the vacant gold caves

The posse group then explored the idea that Takaya must live in one of the many abandoned gold caves. They spent the next month searching the caves. They found and killed many wolves, but not Takaya.

Many people in Dawson City decided that Takaya would never be killed, so they focused on bringing their pets in for the night, and many children were forbidden to play alone outside.

The frustration grew as time passed, and the bounty was raised to $1500.  This attracted more hunters from nearby towns.

This was one smart lone wolf who seemed to attack and then disappear.

Let Takaya come to us

The town’s mayor held a meeting to recruit guards who would surround the city at night. Volunteers agreed to watch the city’s perimeter and wait for Takaya to try to enter.

Takaya was too smart for that to work. He would howl at night, just in the treeline outside the city, to taunt the volunteers.

After a few weeks, many volunteers stopped showing up for duty, and the plan fell apart.

It seemed that nothing was going to work.

The news of Takaya reaches Fairbanks Alaska

The high bounty and news about Takaya reach Fairbanks, Alaska which is only about 300 miles to the west by air.

Three experienced hunters travel from Fairbanks to Dawson City to hunt and kill Takaya and claim the $1500 bounty.

Bobby Clark, Billy Clark, and their neighbor Tom Bradley decided to take on the challenge and split the reward. These three guys have hunted together for many years. They were known as rugged mountain men.

The idea is to stay together to watch each other’s back while hunting the lone gray wolf.

When the three hunters reached Dawson City, the mayor held another meeting to inform the citizens that a well-planned hunt was to begin, and hopes were high that these three men could get the job done.

Mrs. Smith attended the meeting and gave the three hunters a description of Takaya. She was the best eyewitness to describe the wolf because she was only a few feet away when Takaya attacked her daughter.

Mrs. Smith talked about Takaya always being alone, unlike most wolves who hunt in a pack. She also mentioned that Takaya had a very unusual deep voice when he howled at night. He was easily identifiable by his voice alone. Many townspeople agreed that Takaya had a distinctive voice they heard before he attacked their pets.

Bobby, Billy and Tom prepare for the hunt

Many of the townspeople donated food and equipment to the three hunters hoping they would be successful.

The three left on a Sunday night. They planned to travel up the Yukon river for about two miles, then head East into the mountains.  Most attacks happened north of Dawson City, so this seemed a good starting point.

It wasn’t long before they encountered Takaya’s lone voice in the forest. This was the most resounding wolf voice the hunters had ever heard before.

“He must weigh 180 pounds,” said Billy. Tom said, “he sounds like a monster of a wolf.” All three hunters were anxious to get the job done. Bobby said, “hunting a killer wolf like this will be tricky. We need to watch our backs.”

Bobby, Billy and Tom develop a plan

Tom said, “We need to let the wolf come to us. We must make a blind and bait an area to attract Takaya.”

The three hunters cut down small pine trees and underbrush and built a blind. It was a perfect setup. They killed several rabbits and put them in a clearing about 20 yards upwind from the blind.

Billy said, “now it’s just a waiting game.” Several smaller animals approached the bait, such as foxes and raccoons, but they were shooed away.

The three hunters could hear Takaya, and he seemed to get closer. They could hear twigs snapping as he approached.  He seemed to be circling the bait as though he suspected a trap.

All three men hid in the blind, watching the clearing, and waited. Takaya was so close they could hear his breathing.

The three hunters didn’t know that Takaya was behind them, watching them from 30 feet away. He was stalking them. The hunters became the hunted.

Tom turns around to see that he was face to face with Takaya

Tom turned to face the opposite direction and saw two eyes shining in the brush behind the blind.

He yells, “LOOK OUT,” as the giant wolf jumps over Tom and attacks Billy from behind. The wolf was on top of Billy with his teeth dug into Billy’s throat. Blood was squirting out of Billy’s neck, and his brother rolled over and pulled out a 45-caliber took a single shot.

Unfortunately, the bullet missed the wolf and hit his brother in the head, killing him instantly.

Takaya immediately jumped on Bobby and had him pinned to the ground and locked onto his throat.

Tom jumped up in a panic and ran out of the blind. It was about 3:00 in the morning, and Tom was separated from his gun and was now running away from the scene.

He could hear Tayaka growling behind him, still attacking Bobby.

Tom ran back to the river, which was about a mile away. He was still about two miles from town, running for his life without a weapon.

Tom could hear Takaya howling behind him; it sounded like a victory howl.  Tom continued running as he heard Takaya getting closer. He could hear the wolf snapping twigs and running through the brush to catch Tom.

For some unknown reason, Takaya stopped running after Tom, and Tom finally reached Dawson City, which was still in darkness at about 3:30 in the morning.

Tom reached the first house he could find and pounded on the front door, yelling for help.

The homeowner opened the door, and Tom flew in and collapsed on the floor. He could hardly breathe. It took him a few minutes before he could even talk.


Tom tells the story of the hunt

The next day, Tom made a report to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in front of the mayor and a few city officials.

A posse was formed with police and hunters. Tom led them back to the camp and blind, where the incident had occurred several hours before.

They found Billy’s body, his throat ripped out, and a bullet wound to his head. Bobby’s body was laying a few feet away with his throat ripped out as well.

Tom’s story seemed to be accurate. Tom wasn’t charged with any crimes. The police said that running away probably saved his life.

Tom returned to Fairbanks and never when hunting, or even camping again.

Takaya was never seen again

Many people believe that Takaya might have been hit by the bullet that also hit Billy, or maybe he just left the area and moved on into the wilderness. Maybe he died of old age, or maybe he got sick.  The one thing everyone could agree on was, they were glad he was gone.

At the end of the day, this is still a mystery. No really knows for sure.  I do have a recommendation for you. If you are camping in the Yukon area and you hear this, it’s probably time to pack up your stuff and leave.

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