"I love wolves," says Mike Lapinski. He says it like a TV evangelist, with the same straight-arrow voice he uses in the hunting movies like Radical Elk Strategies and Sure Fire Bear that have featured him, the sweat dripping from his face, streaking the camo paint to his chin.
"I love 'em baked, broiled, boiled, barbecued, any way you want to eat them," he says. "That's a joke around here," he adds.
Lapinski, who lives in Superior, Mont., is an award-winning author of 11 books, including Death in the Grizzly Maze, the Timothy Treadwell story, and The Elk Mystique. But foremost he is a hunter.
"I am the number one fan of shooting wolves," he says. As such, he's purchased a $19 wolf license, joining the more than 9,000 Montanans who, as of press time, have bought tags for a controversial fall wolf hunt season that kicked off Sept. 15 in backcountry areas and starts Oct. 25 elsewhere.
The Montana seasons—and one that began Sept. 1 in Idaho—got a legal green light Sept. 8 by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who denied a request by environmental groups to stop the hunts.
Lapinski is delighted by the ruling. He says he's bagged elk near Lookout Pass every year for more than a decade, but can't find them there any more. "They live in the brush like whitetail deer down by the freeway," he says. "Anywhere wolves aren't."
The last time he bow-hunted in his favorite spot, he lured in four wolves with a call meant for elk. "Two came right in, and two circled around me," he says. "It was eerie."
This year, what he'd really like to do is put his crosshairs on the beast he blames for driving elk away. When the Montana wolf hunt opens, Lapinski plans to be on a mountain bench with a rifle and a predator call.