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Steve Foss

Wolf story

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First of all, let me just add an image from the archives to this thread, since what I'm about to recount doesn't have an image to go with it.

3001560806_8800500cd0_o.jpg

OK, that's done.

I found myself smack in the middle of a pack of wolves chasing a deer this morning.

While I didn't get a picture, I didn't care. Sometimes bearing witness is more important than bearing proof.

I'd meant to head out to the Sax-Zim Bog at first light this morning, but because I very much wanted the company of my wife on the trip and because she was experiencing some technical delays in finishing a graphic design job, we put it off until afternoon and I drove down Hwy. 1 for a relatively quick tour of Tomahawk Road, home to moose, spruce grouse and, of course, wolves.

But earlier, along Hwy. 1 in the dense fog of morning, I saw a nearly black wolf trot across the highway and onto a gravel road. I followed, and the wolf took one look at the big blue pickup bearing down on it and evaporated into the mist and woods before I could bring my camera to bear. The animal was thin and weak-looking. Mange, was what I figured. Lucky to live out the winter.

Half an hour later, I was about 10 miles into a leisurely crawl at 10 mph down the Tomahawk, with no fauna to show so far, when I glanced at my watch and decided to turn and head for home. Lisa, I reckoned, would be ready to go to Sax-Zim when I got home.

I must acknowledge a certain lack of attention on the drive back to Hwy. 1. That can happen, sometimes. Honestly, I was daydreaming about winning the Powerball, and all the Canon gear that would follow, when I crested a rise in the road and saw two wolf butts disappearing fast into the woods on the right side of the road. I pulled up and stared into the woods, hoping for one of the wolves to stop and look back, a classic photograph in the making.

But it did not happen.

I readied to accelerate toward home when four more wolves burst from the woods on the left, crossing the road at a full run of at least 30 mph and following the others. I had only a split second to register the fact that three ran in front of the pickup and one behind, all within 20 feet of me.

It was over before I could blink, and long before I could have put up a camera.

All four animals I saw clearly were in excellent physical condition. Standard gray pelage, but with the same strong contrast and pattern as the animal in the images Ken and I posted a few days ago. I was left with the impression of immense, rippling power without effort, animals used to speed in the boreal forest obstacle course.

I turned off the truck and sat there, wondering how wolves suddenly had cast themselves toward and around me like rapids splitting apart for a rock before joining and rushing downstream.

I looked out the window, down into the wet gravel, and saw the prints of wolves and a deer. The deer had passed just before I'd topped the rise, and the pack was looking for a meal.

I peered down the abandoned logging road they'd coursed as they disappeared in pursuit of the deer. I wondered what might have gone through the panicked minds of the red squirrels and weasels as the massive carnivorous dervishes whirled and passed.

Tomorrow, I thought, I'll walk down that road and cast about for signs of a fresh kill.

Tracks will show. Brush torn about, the cark of ravens and eagles, the ghostly glide of gray jays passing from tree to tree in the early morning mist.

Tomorrow, I thought. As I drove away into the rest of the day, the vacuum of my passage pulled the fog into curls.

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It was over before I could blink, and long before I could have put up a camera.

Getting slow in your old age, eh? grin

Seriously, thanks for sharing your day's adventure. I just wish I could have been there with you to winess this incredible moment.

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Thank for sharing your story with us Steve. I can just picture what you were able to see and it is too bad that your were not able to get any shots. Next time grin

My very first trip to Ely for lakers was to Snowbank and north of Ely I had a pack run across the road in front of us and I can still picture the Alpha of the pack.One leap and he was across the road and he seemed to be as long as the lane was wide.

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Looks like a picture would have been worth 615 words by my North Dakota count. The story was very interesting. Good luck tommorrow.

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Thanks, everybody.

Typically, it was not to be. I found no signs of a kill this morning. Maybe there was a kill that I could not find, though there were no ravens making any noise in the area. More likely, the deer got away.

For me this morning, it was enough to lay my cameras aside, squat down on my haunches and put my bare hand into a front paw-print from one of the larger wolves, a print left in a wet spot on the trail, the paw mark twisted and skewed from the force of a 100-pound animal at 30 mph-plus digging for more speed.

I stood up, listening to the cracking of my knee joints, and imagined the wolves of yesterday had slipped by me while I was standing in the woods instead of sitting in my truck. Would I have had the presence of mind to extend my arms in the hopes that the tips of their guard hairs would brush my fingers as they passed?

And, having passed, would they leave my six senses full of themselves?

I moved to Ely to be moved. It happens all over again each day I am in the woods.

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You are a lucky man indeed. I don't post on this particular forum too much-but i like to look at your pics/read your stories. Thank-you!

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Thanks Steve, and good luck in your pursuit of venison for the freezer this year. I remember last year you gave up your spot to some desperate out-of-towners, pay back time. Thanks again for all your stories & the GREAT photography.

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Steve, I had a little brush with one of your buddies last evening. I had walked out to the back of my property in WI(just out of Grantsburg) and had sat down in my deer stand I call the X... (A couple of very nice game trails cross)I was bowhunting. I had been in stand about 30 mins, and it had started to snow pretty good, when I caught a glimps of black in the distance(its pretty thick. I guessed it at about 50 yards out.) Instantly thought bear, we have quite a few in the area, but I had thought they had dened up. Anyway, after watching for another min, it was clear it was not a bear. It ended up walking right up to the trail I had walked in on and even though the wind was in my favor, as soon as it hit the trail I had walked in on it froze.. and back up very slowly, and walked out the way it came. At its nearest it was 6 yards from the base of my tree. All black, a little bit of silver in its tail.. Beautiful animal, but may have something to do with why I havent tagged a deer yet. My buddie hunting about 200 yards away from me got one that evening though.

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DD, that's a great story. Likely the wolf could still smell your tracks when it hit the trail and wasn't actually winding you. What a cool experience. I lived in Milltown and traveled back and forth to Superior quite a bit a long time ago, and I've always loved that country you are hunting.

And thanks, wolfman and 8-ball.

Wolfman, I'm not hunting this year. There are too many folks who come up from other places to hunt the area I know so well out the Echo Trail, and trying to ratchet myself in among the crowd (as well as that experience you mentioned from last year), has left a bad taste in my mouth. I looked at my gun and gear earlier this week and just shrugged my shoulders and decided it wasn't worth the hassle of getting the license and jockeying for position among the pack. Of course, on Sunday night of opening weekend and reading everyone's success stories on HSO/FM, I'm feeling pretty bummed, but that's just how it goes.

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Nice story Steve. You do seem to run into some interesting stuff up that way. But then if you are out there regularly, I guess the odds start to stack up.

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Nice story Steve. You do seem to run into some interesting stuff up that way. But then if you are out there regularly, I guess the odds start to stack up.

Thanks, man. I depend on those odds pretty heavily! For every story like the one I told here, there are 20 wolfless trips, at least. gringringrin

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Steve,

To go along with your story, I have one of my own, involving a wolf.

Seeing that my fishing tug has been sold for the year, I have been on the hunt much more lately. Feathered creatures, grouse mainly. One area I like to hunt is now a semi-wilderness area, lots of road closures, and is home to a good population of grouse. Both Ruffed and Sharptail.

So, I am cruising a main road, going from one spot to the next. I peer down another side road and something catches my eye. At first, I believed it was some sort of large bird, maybe and eagle or even possibly a turkey. What caught my eye, was this unknown creature was flailing up in the air, such as what I would think a large bird would be doing as it was taking off from the ground.

So, I stop and back-up. Hmmmm, looks not like a bird now. I drive closer, and here I see it is a wolf. But, man, its not moving at all. It struggles more. And then I see what is going on. Poor sucker is caught in a leg hold. I inch closer and closer, wanting to see what type of trap has got this fella. Ahh, from what I can tell, it seems like the DNR is doing some type of trapping program. Maybe to radio collar more wolves in the area. As the trap is consistant with ones that I have seen them use before.

Now, mind you, I am close to this magnificant animal. A jet black male, probably the biggest I have seen, am guessing in the 120lb range. I would say I am 5 feet from the animal. As I got closer, it got more docile, laying down onto the ground. Instead of struggling as it once did, when I first seen it. But, you could see it was very nervous, so I made my visit short and went on my way.

First and foremost, to call my DNR buddy to see if the Wolf program was trapping in the area. No answer. I circled back around from the area I knew I would have cell service, probably 30 minutes. I see a red pick-up leaving the area, and no more wolf. Looked to be like a DNR employee vehicle.

Pretty neat encounter. And usually.. Almost always, I have my point and shoot camera with. Not that day. I did capture one photo on the cell phone.

Anyhow, thats my recent wolf encounter.

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