Man Killed by Wolves in 1939, Undocumented Documented Case

Man Killed by Wolves in 1939, Undocumented Documented Case
Man Killed by Wolves in 1939, Undocumented Documented Case

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-– The case of Crist Kolby and his probable death by a wolf was first written by W. R. Selfridge and published in 1943 in Alaskan Sportsman. It was published again in 1956 in the book Blood on the Arctic Snow and examined again in The  Wolves of Alaska #ad: A Fact-based Saga by Jim Rearden, a legendary writer, scientist and historian in Alaska. This article relies on the account in Blood on the Arctic Snow, supplemented with analysis from The Wolves of Alaska and internet sources for the Ketchican Cemetary and the Thirteenth Annual Alaska Game Commission report, 1936-1937.

In February of 1939, Crist Kolby, a well-known and successful Alaskan outdoorsman in Ketchican, Alaska, left to tend his trap line on the Thorn River, located on Prince of Wales Island. He took sufficient supplies for the trip, including a fairly new and top-of-the-line Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver. Less than 5,000 had been produced at that time.  Kolby was routinely armed, known to be a good woodsman and to be in top physical condition at 40 years old.

When Kolby failed to return by July, the United States Commissioner sent two men to investigate the situation. They found Kolby’s base of operations, 10 miles up the river, in the old Hudson cabin, without difficulty. It appeared Kolby had left on a day trip on March 2nd and had never returned.  An extensive search near the cabin discovered a rowboat up a creek. The men came to the conclusion an additional search for his remains would be futile in the summer foliage. They returned to Ketchican with his belongings from the cabin. An executor for his estate was appointed in Ketchican.

Kolby’s friends were not satisfied. They suspected foul play. Another expedition was appointed to do a comprehensive search in October of 1939. They took the gear to drag the nearby lakes for his body. The head of the expedition was former game warden W.R. Selfridge, who knew the area intimately. Three other men rounded out the investigatory party. They found the cabin as described by the former investigators, late on a Monday afternoon, October 30. Almost a week later, after diligent searching, they found clothes, effects, and limited remains they concluded were of Crist Kolby.  It was Sunday, November 5th, 1939.

One of the key findings was the holstered revolver, still on a buckled belt, with teeth marks on the holster consistent with wolf bites. The revolver was unloaded. It had a broken mainspring. It was one of the rare (in 1939) .357 magnums.  Cartridges were found in a pocket. No pack was found.

Circumstantial evidence strongly suggested Kolby had been pursued by wolves while on the lake’s ice. A coat, sheath knife with wolf bite marks on the handle, and torn shirt sleeve cuff were found on the shore. The scattered remains of clothes, buckled belt with a holstered revolver and knife sheath, and bone fragments were found 50 feet away, under two trees. Bone fragments and the mostly intact skull were found scattered over a hundred-foot radius.  The bones of one arm were found three feet from the shore, underwater.  To the experienced woodsmen reading the sign, only one conclusion fits the evidence:

Wolves had pursued Crist Kolby. He knew his revolver did not work. He dropped his pack on the ice of the lake, and made it to the shoreline where he fought a little while with his sheath knife, desperately trying to reach climbable trees. Close to the trees he was dragged down and killed.

The fact the revolver was holstered and unloaded supports the hypothesis the broken mainspring had been discovered after Kolby had left the cabin on his final trip. It would be very strange to bring a useless revolver on a trapping expedition. Unloading the revolver and putting the cartridges in a pocket is exactly what an experienced man would do as they attempted to diagnose a problem.

No one with experience would work on a loaded revolver. At the time, all Smith & Wesson .357 magnums were custom ordered. While expensive, at $60, such a revolver indicates a firearms enthusiast. $60 was the equivalent of 3-6 prime mink pelts of the era.  In constant dollars, the price would be about $1,100 today.

In November of 1939, the four men of the official investigatory team posted this notice on a tree:

IN MEMORY OF Crist Kolby

Killed and ate up by wolves in March 1939.

Found November 5, 1939. Found by:

W.R. Selfridge

Vic Hautop

W.A. Miller

M. Walker

The bone fragments and skull were gathered and returned to Ketchican. The Ketchican cemetery shows a gravesite for Chris Kolby, which appears to date from the era.  It does not give a birth date or date of death.

Did wolves kill Crist or (Chris) Kolby? Probably. He almost certainly was eaten by wolves. A small chance remains he died of exposure, heart attack or other malady/misadventure near the shore of the lake.

It is not impossible for a wolf unsheathed the knife, bite it, and carry it to the shoreline, along with the coat and torn shirt cuff, and bones of the arm.

As noted by the investigators at the time, no one had been killed by wolves in Alaska, where the attack was witnessed.  Accounts of people treed by aggressive wolves have been fairly common. There have been two in the last decade in the lower 48 states, one in Washington, and one in Michigan.

The concept a pack of aggressive wolves would be able to run down a man who only had a belt knife to defend himself, successfully pull him down, and kill him, is uncontroversial.

The evidence demanded to “prove” a wolf or wolves killed a person is very difficult to produce. It can be done if there are witnesses, the wolves can be killed to find a DNA match to DNA on the body, and a forensic investigation can be done promptly. Wolf advocates will go to great lengths to prevent such a finding, as documented by Valerius Geist.

In most plausible cases of wolf attacks, those factors will not be available.

Such is the case with Crist Kolby’s death.  It is an undocumented, documented case of death by wolf.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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john

It is the wolf’s job to remove the week so that strong can survive. The wolf is not of man he is a predator.Man is a predator in the wolf’s world if man is not armed in the wolfs world the wolf will always win.
Only the strong survive some are hunters some are gathers know your place while walking with the wolf.

Wild Bill

Wolves take the strong, too. That eliminating the weak and sick theory has never proved out.

john

The strong and healthy in the forest present less of a opportunity for the wolf. Wolves also live in and hunt in packs and will always attack thoses that will not endanger their own we being first. Only when food and the environment becomes a struggle the wolf will then first move on to a easier meal such as life stock domestic animals they are also the weak compared to the wolf. In the wild the pack will stop at nothing to eat as a pack they are strong against a single target wearing their prey down a little at… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by john
Wild Bill

No, that is a failed theory. Wolves work as a team to kill and eat the strong, too. It is more a matter of chance.

john

Predator and Preyhttps://www.livingwithwolves.org/how-wolves-hunt/ What the wolf lacks in size, power and weapons it makes up for with collaboration and intelligence. Smaller and less powerful than mountain lions, for example, wolves work together to take down prey much larger than an individual wolf; prey that may otherwise elude them. While individual wolves have been able to subdue large prey animals, their advantage is in collaborating with their pack. Wolves are opportunists. They test their prey, sensing any weakness or vulnerability through visual cues and even through hearing and scent. Contrary to ambush predators that rely on the element of surprise and… Read more »

john

All of these ungulates have adaptations for defense against wolves, including a great sense of smell, good hearing, agility, speed, and sharp hooves. As these prey are so well adapted to protecting themselves, wolves feed upon vulnerable individuals, such as weak, sick, old, or young animals, or healthy animals hindered by deep snow. By killing the inferior animals, wolves help increase the health of their prey population a tiny bit at a time. When inferior animals are removed, the prey population is kept at a lower level and there is more food for the healthy animals to eat. Such “culling” also ensures… Read more »

Gregory Peter DuPont

Moral of the story: ALWAYS check your gear,tools and weapons before you set out.

Josephus

Equipment failure is always a possibility, so it’s not a bad idea to carry a backup. Two is one, and one is none – especially when you’re alone.

Finnky

I could see bringing backup to his cabin, but for a quick swing along his trap lines? OTOH – If I found such an issue I think I’d probably head straight back for that replacement. Who knows, maybe he was at most distant point of his trek when he found the problem. May be was heading back to the cabin when attack occurred.

Ansel Hazen

Here in Maine there are occasional reports of a group of coyote setting up on someone out hunting whitetail. Dispatching several members of the pack has shown to be an effective way to help them change their mind.

Bigfootbob

I’ve never seen or have been personally told about a Coyote hunting a human. That’s scary. We have many Coyote’s in my area, I bet I see one at least weekly. We have the usual problems, raided Chicken Coops and they seem to have a pretty good selection of food sources from the neighborhood fat/lazy Cats and last week or so one attacked a small dog being walked on a leash at the beach. I never thought about them being a threat to most humans until now. Here’s a picture of a male I saw walking across my backyard a… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Bigfootbob
Finnky

I been followed (stalked?) by yotes on evening walks through our crowded suburban neighborhood. Not sure what they were thinking as my two puppies were still strong enough to separately take on multiple coyotes. Even then I carried on those walks, cause why risk rabies? Now that the doggoes can barely walk (arthritis & old age !!!) I’m less likely to be disturbed by tugging leashes during any defense situation. Here yotes eat like yours. Fewer chickens (only recently legal here), but plenty of rats, squirrels, skunks, cats and the occasional small dog. Bigger fear is the bobcats, they are… Read more »

Oldman

BB, We live about ten miles north of the big city, about 1000 yards away from a power line that runs through several small and large communities that carries power from the Alderwood Mall to Maltby. In the past 2 or three years we have been seeing more often, the rather large cross bred males between coyotes and wolves in our quasi rural area. These ‘dogs’ are about the size of German Shepherds and I wouldn’t want to tangle with one, much less many. They have apparently migrated west from areas like Maine, where they were first seen about 50… Read more »

Wild Bill

Can you shoot from your kitchen window? Hey, the big storm is just leaving us, after a very exciting twelve hours. How is your neck of the woods?

Last edited 17 days ago by Wild Bill
Oldman

Our neck of the woods is cold and soggy right now. We have been having a horrible spring and will be lucky to plant tomatoes by July, if then. Hope no damage from the storm to you and yours. And……I have to laugh here….no we cannot shoot from our kitchen window. No firearms can be discharged west of highway nine which bisects Puget Sound from the foothills of the Cascades, unless it is on an ‘approved’ shooting range or indoor facility. Sad. Not like that 30 years ago. BTW, inflation has finally caught us big here. Our natural gas bill… Read more »

Desert Rat

Get one of the .22 caliber pellet guns that pumps them out at 1200fps. that will send Wily Coyote to the great beyond.

Duane

Historically wolves have always been known to be a danger to man.

It was only been in recent times that. The belief that large predators are not.

Ope

That would had been a terrifying and very painful way to die. RIP Crist Kolby.

Rowboat

Much the same as the North Carolina woman that was killed and eaten by her own two Pit Bull dogs a couple of years ago .

Bigfootbob

I believe that happened in Illinois and the killer dog was a French Bulldog. I remember this, my neighbor had just bought one, and I thought at the time how tragic and what a terrible way to die. The Frenchies are much smaller than their cousins, damn, just damn.

https://myfox8.com/news/woman-killed-by-pet-french-bulldog/

swmft

there are problems with pt bulls in florida several counties outlawed them some require insurance had to knock a friends pet pit bull out cold dam near broke my hand she wound up with stitches dog now wears a muzzle

Rowboat

Stay tuned for all the down votes by PB lovers !
In my career as a LEO, I’ve had to dispatch 2 attacking PBs . Even a Rotwhyler seems to know when to back off, but Pits ? Meh .

Finnky

PB’s are highly variable. No surprise as pretty much anything that has even a vague resemblance gets classified as a pit. Studies have shown shelter workers identify breed somewhere around 10% of the time (from memory – don’t quote this stat.) Add to that how quickly inbreeding can change inherent traits (including disposition) and that some people keep pits as “junk yard dogs” or breed for fighting while others breed for house pets.

Every pit I’ve met has been sweet and wanting to be pet. I have however walked past some behind fences where I’m rather grateful for the fence.

Wild Bill

Pitties just think like every other dog. Love to be loved. Protective of family and territory. Narrow minded of taunting.

DDS

Every dog breed has its share of psychos that go over the “red line” too quickly (as does Homo Sapiens). But the thing is, when a Yorkie or Chihuahua goes all “Cujoe” it doesn’t make the national news.

I used to watch “The Dog Whisperer” quite a bit, and the only time I remember seeing Cesar Milan needing urgent care it was due to a bite from a Golden Retriever. Go figure!

Wild Bill

I can not disagree with that. Here, too.
Go Goldie! How ignominious!!

swmft

had to knock the dog out so it would let go of her, when I hit it on the head was not sure I did not kill it ;took almost 20 minutes to come around daughter took her to hospital ,you would not believe the scar ,and rehab, she made me look after her baby he did not bite her on purpose stupid almost lost her leg . the positive that came out of it I can say stop and even running after a cat he will stop and sit and wait for me and the look says please dont… Read more »

Finnky

Bought my smaller cuddle-puppy a muzzle. He’s “not very good with other dogs”. Since I needed to introduce him to my MIL’s smaller puppy (golden doodle, now ~60 lbs expected to his a nice medium 80lbs or so). Much easier when I’m not worried about anyone needing stiches.

Wild Bill

May God bless you for giving two dogs a good home.

Russn8r

Woman killed by 2 Presa Canarios, pit bullish dogs.
https://dogbitelaw.com/diane-whipple/the-diane-whipple-case

Last edited 17 days ago by Russn8r
Russn8r

Downvoters deserve the same fate.

Oldman

I thought downvotes were your pride and joy?

Russn8r

They are! Over The Target!

Oldman

So, in order for you to be happy, the downvoters that give you such joy, deserve to be attacked and killed. Where would your joy come from, then? Whatever you are using to make you so whacko, you should probably stop using…..you dig?

Russn8r

Another weak POP. You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

What a crybaby.

Last edited 17 days ago by Russn8r
Wild Bill

I’d like to see him insult people in public the way that he does here.

Russn8r

More projection. You’re the insulter, the liar, the stalker. Who asked you to reply to my post, POP? It wasn’t to you.

Oldman

Never happen

Russn8r

As if your name’s actually Oldman, POP.

Why are you thugs always trolling & spoiling for a physical fight? Brains not big enough to deal with actual issues?

Wild Bill

Yes, you are right.

Wild Bill

Another miss. Shoot lower.

Russn8r

Say his name, POP.

Wild Bill

I bet your kids ignore you; your wife slaps you around; and you have a hateful job where your coworkers look down on you.

Russn8r

“I bet you…”? You sound like a pouty child. LMAO!

“Dear Harold…XOXO!!!”
https://www.ammoland.com/2022/04/how-can-second-amendment-supporters-go-on-offense/#comment-2933450

Oldman

He has no job, no wife, no kids, no life. All he has is a drug use issue, cuz we all know he has no sense.

Wild Bill

I see that I was presumptuous.

Wild Bill

Say your own name … FOP.

Russn8r

Why do you hate innocent civilians, POP?

Oldvet

WB R.8..You two have so damm much energy ,FALL out for work detail !!! Friday Andover KS. Hit by EF3 Tornado sleeping and eating in a skid steer since 3 inches of rain on top . You both sound like two spoiled snot nosed brats . Don’t bother replying won’t be here !!!

Last edited 17 days ago by Oldvet
Russn8r

Ease up on the cheap moral equivalence and Butt Out. I didn’t ask to be stalked, but I don’t turn the other cheek, let alone spread it. You sound like a smug little hit-&-runster who expects others to roll over for abuse. Long as it’s not YOU, you’re ok with it.

Don’t bother to reply bc I won’t be here? Pathetic.

Last edited 17 days ago by Russn8r
Wild Bill

I happen to know that OV is a good and descent man.

Wild Bill

OV you are a good man to volunteer for clean up.

Russn8r

Yet he called you a spoiled snot-nosed brat, POP. LOL

Wild Bill

Yes, he did. He had a long difficult day aiding in storm clean up in his community. I can see him having some frustration and anger. He is still a good and descent man.
On the other hand, you have only told half of the truth, here. He called you that too. You did not mention that part.