The fantastic tale of a wolf on the prowl.
The Legend Begins
Old Three Legs didn’t always have only three legs. He was once a fully four-legged wolf. He was a gray wolf, also called a timber wolf. His territory was Clay County through Becker County, up to Mahnomen County, down to Ottertail County and up through Itasca County in early 1900 Minnesota. He was a wolf who traveled alone and not with a pack.
The Lone Wolf
Hunting as a lone wolf, Old Three Legs caused a lot of problems. He roamed the countryside hunting whatever he felt like eating. Unfortunately for the local human residents, that sometimes meant valuable livestock. He was eating chickens, sheep, cows, and even attacking full-grown horses. The wolf was causing an uproar and soon made a name for himself as a menace. People tried to hunt him on their own land, but the wolf roamed too wide of a territory and proved too clever to be caught.
Four Legs Become Three
After suffering a devastating loss to his sheep herd, a local farmer tried to outwit the wolf. He set a circle of traps around a young lamb. The next morning, the lamb was missing and so was one of the traps! When the farmer followed the tracks leading away from the scene, he found what was left of his lamb and the missing trap… with a wolf paw still caught in it. The wolf had chewed off his own paw to escape! From then on, Old Three Legs could be recognized by the tracks he left behind.
The Hunter is Hunted
Old Three Legs had become so famous that the State of Minnesota finally hired a team of professional trackers and also a team of professional hunters. Even with a bounty on his head, Old Three Legs continued to elude them. After tracking and hunting for more than a year, the hired men eventually gave up the chase.
The End of the Story
In November of 1926, local deer hunters finally brought an end to the reign of Old Three Legs. Fred Darkow and his deer hunting party spotted the wolf and shot him. Old Three Legs was brought into town and shown off, as seen in this photo. Folks could finally breathe a sigh of relief because the infamous wolf was dead.
Finally at an end, Old Three Legs was preserved and put on display around Detroit Lakes; in the butcher shop window, in a hotel lobby, and at family farms. Old Three Legs was eventually donated to the Becker County Museum where he now resides and is on permanent display.