March 30, 2023

Book Review: Wolfer – a Memoir

Wolfer – A Memoir
By Carter Niemeyer
Published by BottleFly Press
Copyright 2010 by Carter Niemeyer
ISBN-13 978-0-984-8113-0-4
ISBN-10 0984811303
Second Paperback Edition

For trappers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, animal lovers and anyone with any interest in the process of gray wolf introduction in the Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho, I believe this book is a must read. I enjoyed it immensely and gained a different perspective about the author.

To be completely transparent about this book review, I have never met Mr. Niemeyer, the author, nor have I ever communicated with him, at least that I am aware of. I believe once I received an email from his wife suggesting I read this book. That was some time ago and it has taken me a couple of years to get around to reading it, mostly because of the recommendation of a friend.

When I first began reading the book, which sets the stage of a young boy growing up in rural Iowa, it didn’t take long to see that there were many similarities between Carter Niemeyer’s upbringing and young past in rural Iowa and mine in rural Maine, including the early deaths of our fathers.

Carter falls in love with trapping. It begins at an early age and his love for and knowledge of trapping grows with each turn of the page. His circumstances while growing up caused Carter to use trapping, the killing of animals, to pay his way in life. He never seemed to take much issue with killing most any animal for their resource, with the exception of the wild canines, excluding foxes.

In the book, I read where in his teen years, I believe it was, that Niemeyer shows his first unexplained affection toward coyotes and even displays hesitation in having to kill one; something that never is shown throughout the book, with the exception of the wild wolves.

After losing his father, Carter Niemeyer comes in contact with people who encourage him to go to college and through it all is presented with opportunities to work outdoors and especially take advantage of his trapping abilities, most of which he learned from people he grew up around.

Much of the author’s story of his trapping life isn’t all that much unlike many diehard trappers. Those around him, in this case his wife and children, have to put up with the long hours, hard work and rancid smells that get embedded into just about everything a trapper comes in contact with.

Eventually Niemeyer takes a job with the Federal Government in Montana and works for animal damage control (now Wildlife Services) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There he trapped and mostly killed predators that were killing and harassing privately owned livestock.

Things seem to change and Carter Niemeyer begins to morph into either someone different or into the man he really was inside, when he becomes involved in the Federal Government’s gray wolf introduction program. He teams up with Ed Bangs and the two of them travel into Canada, trap gray wolves, then release them in Yellowstone and central Idaho.

Carter Niemeyer comes across as a ballsy, stubborn and often arrogant man. From the book I gathered he was not afraid to stand up to anyone. A large chip grows and sticks firmly onto his shoulder. At times he doesn’t seem to understand that he is a turncoat; a man who willingly, nay, eagerly killed any animal threatening ranchers’ livestock, including the handful of wolves naturally re-habituating northwestern Montana, to one now bringing the most savage of predators, the gray wolf, into the lands surrounding some of the best ranching lands in the nation.

Niemeyer’s attitude toward these ranchers changes and throughout this book we find little good he has to say about any of them. His attitude becomes that of an elitist, self-taught authority on trapping and wolves. Pity the man who dared to stand up to him. He develops enemies.

The book is mostly well written and interesting enough to keep a reader’s attention. It’s a fascinating revelation of how one man can be transformed into a completely different person because of an animal.

From what I gleaned from the book, Carter Niemeyer, a good man, a great trapper, loses his way and forgets his past. His enthusiasm and learned dedication to whatever he attempts, makes him a prime target for being taken advantage of because of his skills as a trapper. But he prevails, always determined.

Pick up a copy, as I’m sure you will enjoy it. I hesitated because, to be honest, I’m tiring of the same old wolf wars and there’s little new that can be added to the debate. However, information I found in this book helps to show that the actual event of going to Canada to trap wolves and bring them back to the U.S. was extremely poorly planned and wrought with problems. I think, had it not been for Niemeyer’s determination for accomplishment, the wolf introduction may never have taken place. We can either thank him or blame him.

Out of five stars, I would give this book 4 stars.