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Press Release

October 1, 2014

Contact:  Renee Trindle
Sod House Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office:  580-463-2441

Great Wolf Hunt of 1923 Presentation to be Held at the Sod House Museum

Jim Wilkinson, retired judge of Major County, will be at the Sod House Museum Saturday, October 18, at 10 a.m., to present his reflections and an overview of an event he calls the Great Wolf Hunt of 1923. This event led to several years of organized endeavor to reduce the coyote population of Major County. Wilkinson will describe how organizers mapped out a region of the county from time to time and recruited locals to participate in a round-up of coyotes on foot. Up to seven square miles were mapped and lines were drawn on the perimeter from which a ring of captives would result. They had intricate rules and regulations and a chain of command by which they expected to operate. The efficiency of the activity drew the attention of Oklahoma state leaders who published their admiration of the hunts. To recruit masses of people and gain some enthusiasm they dubbed it a "wolf hunt," knowing interest in finding wolves was more prevalent than interest in nabbing a wiry coyote. "This had become a winter sport started by a bunch of enthusiastic citizens of the county who needed an outlet for their unspent energy," said Wilkinson.

The event grew until local leaders discovered the advertising power and notoriety available through the recently developed motion picture. The local theatre manager made arrangements with a national concern to do a movie of the January 1923 wolf hunt. The Great Hunt was expected to be a huge success and was filmed in its entirety. The resulting movie would then be distributed across the nation and Major County would become famous for its location as a mecca for hunters. The hunt took place but complications ensued, causing turmoil in Fairview. The suspenseful events that transpired make this an enjoyable story to relate to the ages.

Wilkinson, a native of the area, has been involved in researching the history of Major County for a number of years. During the time Wilkinson was judge in Major County he served as delegate from the Oklahoma Judicial Conference to the American Bar Association. He was on various committees in the Judicial Division, published articles in the Judges Journal about the working conditions of rural judges, and was editor of the National Trial News until 1996. He was a member of the National Conference of State Trial Judges, sat on its executive committee and was elected chair of the national organization for 1994-95.

Wilkinson is a graduate of Fairview High School, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University School of Law. He received his judicial training at the National Judicial College of Reno, Nevada, and the University of Virginia.

In 2002 he completed the publication of "Gloss Mountain Country, Volume 2: A History of Major County, Oklahoma." It was while doing extensive research for this book that he stumbled onto the Great Hunt. His judicial work gave him valuable experience, as he converted his talents to doing historical research after his retirement. He now works with the Major County Historical Society on a volunteer basis, where he finds resources for his ongoing research.

The Sod House Museum is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society and located southeast of Aline, Oklahoma, on State Highway 8. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with admission. For more information contact Renee Trindle at 580-463-2441 or email sodhouse@okhistory.org.

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