In 1821, Captain Harman and his good friend Christian left Catoctin Furnace one morning with their hunting dogs. They hiked into the Catoctin Mountains hoping their dogs would catch the scent of a wolf.
Wolves have been hunted for nearly 13,000 years for sport, their skins and to protect livestock. It’s uncertain as to whether the two men were hunting wolves for sport or to protect the livestock of farmers in the area.
Harman and Christian had walked about four miles when the dogs returned with their back hair standing up and their tails erect, which was the sign that they had either caught the scent or found some other sign of a wolf.
The men followed the dogs and found the lair of a male wolf. Harman sent Christian over a ridge and down the hill about 150 feet to search out the entrance to the lair.
“Down and down he went, among the crags and fissures of the rocks, came to a large opening into which he crept, sliding along on his abdomen and slipping his faithful rifle by his side,” according to the Catoctin Clarion. “After he got in about 100 feet, he was confronted with one of the largest female wolves ever caught or killed in these mountains. Death stared him in the face in the most hideous form; he could neither advance or recede, or use his rifle.”
A female gray wolf generally runs around 80 pounds, so this wolf probably weighed closer to 100 pounds about the size of a male wolf.
It rushed toward Christian, but instead of attacking him, it scrambled up a rock chimney.
Christian yelled up to Harman, “Here comes a wolf as large as a yearling calf.”
And it was, according to the Catoctin Clarion.
Harman, who was an “unerring shot,” shot the she-wolf as she emerged from the chimney. The wolf fell back into the hole and Harman and Christian were forced to track her back into her lair where they killed her and eight pups.
The danger from wolves, in terms of livestock loss, was so great in the 19th Century, that bounties were often offered for wolf hides. At the time of this hunt, some places would offer $1 per hide. It was a good-sized bounty. In the 1820′s, $1 could purchase 14 pounds of beef or 3.5 pounds of nails.
By the 1870′s, 100,000 wolves were killed annually in the United States. In Maryland, gray wolves had virtually disappeared by the turn of the 20th Century, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“Some species disappeared from Maryland, and a few of these even became extinct rangewide. Elk, bison, wolves, and cougars have disappeared from the state, while the carrier passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet are now extinct,” according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources web site.
Since Harman and Christian were known to get together for hunting wolves and bears, it likely they continued such hunts after the success of this hunt.