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Steve Foss

Who's afraid of the big bad . . .

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. . . WOLLLLLLFFFFF!

Ken (finnbay) and I had just put in a largely uninspiring day up the Echo Trail, with deep dark skies and rain/snow mix dampening our spirits.

We had lucked into a shoot with a trio of gray jays, and since Ken especially wanted to test his 50D at really high iso ratings, and since I'd wanted to see how clean my 30D would be with high iso ratings on the 300 f2.8, we were happy to find them.

And we did a little portrait work with each other as well, not to mention we found some deer. And then it started getting dark. I mean dark, about half way to full dark, so we packed it up and headed in. But of course we kept our gear ready, because literally anything can happen.

OK, so those photos of each of us, some landscapes, gray jays and deer will be posted on a different thread, because it would be an outright shame to combine a thread with all those images and this . . .

. . . wolf that walked within 20 feet of us!

Both with the Canon 30D, Canon 300 f2.8L IS, iso1600, 1/20 at f2.8, monopod

2975903141_39416ffeb3_o.jpg

2976756500_3df994f669_o.jpg

OK, now for the back story. We were about 20 miles up the Echo and heading back. I was looking down at my camera body chimping to see just how clean my gray jay photos might be at iso3200 when I heard Ken say "What is THAT!" Immediately I looked up and there was a wolf about 40 feet ahead of us trotting around a curve toward us on the Echo. I got my lens up but Ken was already opening his door, so I jumped out and we started firing away.

It was literally half dark. Ken was armed with the slow 100-400L IS but had the great high iso performance of the 50D to counteract the slow f5.6 max aperture. I had the 30D, which is pretty clean but nothing close to the 50D on high iso noise performance, so I took the sharpness of the 300 and its f2.8 max aperture, the monopod and the IS into account and chose iso1600, hoping to get enough shutter speed for sharp images but not wanting to beef it up all the way to iso3200 because of the noise. I can't recall how many images Ken got, but of the 35 or so I took, half were sharp enough to market. I'm pretty sure Ken was shooting at iso3200 or 6400 with the 50D. I know Ken got some nice ones, too.

We had a car following close behind us during the drive, and we walked over to talk to the amazed couple in the vehicle. The guy was still in shock that, not only had a wild wolf trotted right down the Echo to within feet of us, but that these two guys in full camo bailed out of our vehicle with monster lenses and wild looks in our eyes as soon as we saw the wolf. gringringrin

At one point, as the wolf came to within 20 feet and showed no sign of stopping, I hollered at it so it wouldn't keep advancing. There's simply no telling what a wolf might do, and there was no way to know if this one had been habituated through feeding or what. Predators, we know, are unpredictable, so I gave it a holler and it nonchalantly sauntered into the woods, where we played hid and seek for a minute or so.

There WERE a few high fives in the vehicle on the way back. After we got our hearts restarted, that is.

I only realized after getting back to my office and downloading the images that it was a year to the week since I lucked into photographing the black wolf of the Fernberg.

Forever more, October will be the month of the wolf for me. gringringrin

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. . . WOLLLLLLFFFFF!

Ken (finnbay) and I had just put in a largely uninspiring day up the Echo Trail, with deep dark skies and rain/snow mix dampening our spirits.

We had lucked into a shoot with a trio of gray jays, and since Ken especially wanted to test his 50D at really high iso ratings, and since I'd wanted to see how clean my 30D would be with high iso ratings on the 300 f2.8, we were happy to find them.

And we did a little portrait work with each other as well, not to mention we found some deer. And then it started getting dark. I mean dark, about half way to full dark, so we packed it up and headed in. But of course we kept our gear ready, because literally anything can happen.

OK, so those photos of each of us, some landscapes, gray jays and deer will be posted on a different thread, because it would be an outright shame to combine a thread with all those images and this . . .

. . . wolf that walked within 20 feet of us!

Both with the Canon 30D, Canon 300 f2.8L IS, iso1600, 1/20 at f2.8, monopod

2975903141_39416ffeb3_o.jpg

2976756500_3df994f669_o.jpg

OK, now for the back story. We were about 20 miles up the Echo and heading back. I was looking down at my camera body chimping to see just how clean my gray jay photos might be at iso3200 when I heard Ken say "What is THAT!" Immediately I looked up and there was a wolf about 40 feet ahead of us trotting around a curve toward us on the Echo. I got my lens up but Ken was already opening his door, so I jumped out and we started firing away.

It was literally half dark. Ken was armed with the slow 100-400L IS but had the great high iso performance of the 50D to counteract the slow f5.6 max aperture. I had the 30D, which is pretty clean but nothing close to the 50D on high iso noise performance, so I took the sharpness of the 300 and its f2.8 max aperture, the monopod and the IS into account and chose iso1600, hoping to get enough shutter speed for sharp images but not wanting to beef it up all the way to iso3200. I can't recall how many images Ken got, but of the 35 or so I took, half were sharp enough to market. I'm pretty sure Ken was shooting at iso3200 or 6400 with the 50D. I know Ken got some nice ones, too.

We had a car following close behind us during the drive, and we walked over to talk to the amazed couple in the vehicle. The guy was still in shock that, not only had a wild wolf trotted right down the Echo to within feet of us, but that these two guys in full camo bailed out of our vehicle with monster lenses and wild looks in our eyes as soon as we saw the wolf. gringringrin

At one point, as the wolf came to within 20 feet and showed no sign of stopping, I hollered at it so it wouldn't keep advancing. There's simply no telling what a wolf might do, and there was no way to know if this one had been habituated through feeding or what. Predators, we know, are unpredictable, so I gave it a holler and it nonchalantly sauntered into the woods, where we played hid and seek for a minute or so.

There WERE a few high fives in the vehicle on the way back. After we got our hearts restarted, that is.

I only realized after getting back to my office and downloading the images that it was a year to the week since I lucked into photographing the black wolf of the Fernberg.

Forever more, October will be the month of the wolf for me. gringringrin

did you have a Milk Bone for him??

it's neat to see them in the wild

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Congrats Steve! That's a fantastic story and great images to boot! It pays to be prepared.

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No Milk Bones, though Ken had just finished feeding gray jays, so there's no telling what Mr. Wolf smelled. Maybe we just smelled like dinner, because he showed no inclination to stop even as he trotted within 20 feet straight toward us. He probably would have passed up on Ken. Lots more fat on my bones. I was about to detatch the big ole heavy monopod and get ready for a little skirmish before I told him to stop and he did and walked into the woods. Really, I just wanted to get pictures of him off the road in a more natural environment. gringringrin

Thanks, MM. As buzzsaw always used to say, chance favors a prepared mind. And chance it was. smilesmile

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Way to go guys, that is just great. Nice shots too, I wouldn't complain at all about the performance of the 30D with that 2.8 hanging on it. Congratulations! I can't wait to see Ken's photos.

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Ohmigosh. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the photos. Dang, right place and almost the right time combined with good equipment and experience and know how and you have winning photographs.

I'm heading to Ely next October. grinwink

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Nice shots, Steve! Mine were not as sharp as that - the 100-400L was still a little slow even at ISO 3200. Also at 1/20th of a second. Didn't have the monopod on, and I think that would have made a big difference! Haven't looked at all of them, but one of the first:

ET1.jpg

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Yeah, Ken, that monopod makes all the difference sometimes at slow shutter speeds. An amazing encounter, no matter what! smilesmile

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It is DEFINITELY sharp. Almost as sharp as the 400 f2.8L Mk2 (non IS), but not quite. I wouldn't have been able to get these captures to marketable sharpness if I'd been limited to my 400 f5.6L, which is tack sharp but has the slow aperture and no IS. Even if I'd bumped iso to 3200, with the 400 f5.6 I'd have been at 1/10 sec, and even from a monopod with no IS the images would have all been blurry.

As for the 300, thanks for the loan, Ken! gringringrin

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Great work Steve and Ken! How cool is that! Steve I never worry about 3200 ISO with proper exposure in that 30D. Way to go guys.

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Gotta love those incredibly neat moments! I was just planning a trip to Yellowstone and looking at Wolf and Moose images and then decided to check in here and low and behold you got a few nice images here in Minnesota! Great work!

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Steve I never worry about 3200 ISO with proper exposure in that 30D.

I do. I worry about EVERYTHING! gringrin

Buzz, good luck in Yellowstone. It's a paradise for photographers, and the tours tend to get in pretty close to the wolf packs. I'm envious. Sigh. smilesmile

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Nice shots guys. Not often someone can get that close to a wolf. I spend a fair amount of time hiking in the woods and see a lot of deer, grouse, eagles, bears, moose, and even a coyote, but I have never scored a wolf. Seen a few glimpses of things out of the corner or my eye that I thought may have been a wolf. Out of a car window yes, never out of the car.

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Great story and great photos! Steve, that second shot is awesome.

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Superb captures guys!...That wolf doesn't appear startled or scared whatsoever!.....looks to be completely "in control" of the "man/wolf" encounter on the road......such a dignified creature the wolf!......

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Quote:

Buzz, good luck in Yellowstone. It's a paradise for photographers, and the tours tend to get in pretty close to the wolf packs. I'm envious. Sigh.

I wasn't planning on participating on any tours, actually a friend of mine that just did that deal in Fergus Falls over the weekend has done the trip over twenty times and has offered to bring me. grin

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Buzz, Sounds like a personal tour, that is great. I can't wait to see what you bring back for us.

Any of your other shots worth posting Steve, or are you gonna make us wait to read another by-line?

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Buzz, that's the best of all possible worlds, you lucky bugger! gringringrin

yak, there are several others that are sharp enough, but they all are pretty much alike with only subtle differences.

I'm still pretty jazzed about the whole encounter. The guy that pulled up behind us when the wolf was there already e-mailed looking to buy prints, so that's cool, too. smilesmilesmile

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Isn't 15 amps the breaker size for 14 gauge wire?
    • Forsythe Not too shabby.
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      Largemouth Bass - Fair: Bass are biting topwater baits. Black Crappie - Good: Drift or troll small tube jigs in the dredge cut.  For information on the lakes and rivers in the north central area, contact the Clear Lake Fish and Wildlife office at 641-357-3517.    East Okoboji Lake
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      Expect to fish through and around vegetation. Adjust tactics as needed, including heavy baits or topwater options. Reports of some quality size bass being caught. Largemouth Bass - Good: Use weedless artificial lures with the dense vegetation. Try also topwater frog imitation baits.  Shell Rock River (Greene to Shell Rock)
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      River level is 14.7 feet at Lynxville and is expected to fall slowly to 14 feet. Water temperature is 82 degrees at the Lock and Dam 9. Sny Magill ramp is open. Walleye- Fair: Water levels are at a good level to find walleyes on wing dams. Use a 3-way rig with a floating jig and a worm. Yellow Perch - Fair: Perch bite has been spotty, but some nicer ones are being caught with live minnow rigs. Northern Pike -Good: This time of year pike are attracted to cooler water coming in from springs and tributaries. Channel Catfish - Good: Try cut bait or stink bait in the main and side channel borders. Bluegill - Good: Panfish bite is picking up this week. Try a small piece of garden worm on small tackle under a bobber. Common Carp - Good: Carp are on the move with the high water. To hook into a big one, try fishing the warm shallow backwaters where carp are staging for the spawn. Largemouth Bass - Good: With lower water levels, bass will be pulling out to wing dams and structure along the main channel. Smallmouth Bass - Good: Find smallmouth along shorelines in slight current off rocky points. White Bass - Fair: Cast flashy spinners or crankbaits along the rocks in the main channel current for big white bass. Bluegill - Excellent: Use light tackle tipped with small piece of worm under a bobber in 4-6 feet of water. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Freshwater drum are actively biting in areas of current. Drop a heavily weighted worm rig into the current for some big fish action. Black Crappie - Good: Try tube jigs or minnow under a bobber in submersed trees in the backwater sloughs.  Mississippi River Pool 11
      River level is 6.2 feet at Guttenberg and is expected to fall slowly and stabilize near 5 feet. Water temperature is 76 degrees at Lock and Dam 10. Walleye - Fair: Water levels are at a good level to find walleyes on wing dams. Use a 3-way rig with a floating jig and a worm. Yellow Perch - Fair: Perch bite has been spotty, but some nicer ones are being caught with live minnow rigs. Northern Pike - Excellent: This time of year, pike are attracted to cooler water coming in from springs and tributaries. Channel Catfish - Good: Try cut bait or stink bait in the main and side channel borders. Largemouth Bass - Good: With lower water levels, bass will be pulling out to wing dams and structure along the main channel. Smallmouth Bass - Good: Find smallmouth along shorelines in slight current off rocky points. White Bass - Fair: Cast flashy spinners or crankbaits along the rocks in main channel current for big white bass. Bluegill - Excellent: Use light tackle tipped with small piece of worm under a bobber in 4-6 feet of water. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Freshwater drum are actively biting in areas of current. Drop a heavily weighted worm rig into the current for some big fish action. Black Crappie - Good: Try tube jigs or minnow under a bobber in submersed trees in the backwater sloughs.  Upper Mississippi River levels are leveling off this week with good water clarity, but lots of vegetation present. Boaters should use caution with the lower water with wing dams and sandbars now at or just below the water surface. As water levels settle back to summer lows, look for fish along side channels as the temperatures warm up. Water temperatures are in the upper 70's to low 80's.   Mississippi River Pool 12
      Water levels are 6.1 feet at the Dubuque Lock and Dam and 8.6 feet at the RR bridge. Expect water levels to drop slowly this upcoming week. Water clarity is good. The water temperature is around 81 degrees. Channel Catfish - Excellent:Try stink bait or worms near shore. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Most anglers use a simple egg sinker and worm rig. Drum will be hanging out relatively near shore in moderate current areas. Largemouth Bass - Excellent: Largemouth bass are being caught along flooded weed lines and in weedy backwater using lures like scum frogs.  White Bass - Good: Look for schools of white bass feeding on the surface in the morning and evenings. Bluegill - Good: Try along the vegetation lines in 4 to 6 feet of water. Flathead Catfish - Good: Current areas along rocks are starting to again produce some nice eating sized flathead catfish. Walleye - Good: Use crankbaits on the wing dams. White Crappie - Good: Try small minnows in newly exposed brush piles along major side channels or deeper backwater areas. Smallmouth Bass - Good: Use spinners or crankbaits along rocky areas with strong current.  Mississippi River Pool 13
      Water level is 6.5 feet at the Bellevue Lock and Dam. Expect water levels to recede this upcoming week. Water clarity is good. The water temperature is around 82 degrees. The north ramp at Sabula is not in use this year due to bridge construction.  Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try stink bait or worms near shore. Move often if you are not finding catfish. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: The drum bite is on. Fish worms with an egg sinker in moderate current areas. Fish near the shorelines if possible. Largemouth Bass - Excellent: Most are feeding along the edge of weed lines. Use a bright colored spinner that imitates minnows. Try also frog imitation lures in the weedy backwaters. White Bass - Good: Look for feeding schools of white bass in the morning and evenings. Small spinners and white jigs work best. Bluegill - Good: Bluegills have returned  to the creel. Try fishing along vegetation lines in 4 to 6 feet of water. Flathead Catfish - Good: Try live bait in high current areas or above large brush piles.  Smallmouth Bass - Good: Focus on rock lines and piles with strong current. Spinners, jigs and crankbaits work best. White Crappie - Good: Some nice crappies were reported coming out of deeper backwater areas along newly exposed brush piles.  Mississippi River Pool 14
      Water levels are 6.1 feet at Fulton Lock and Dam, 10.2 feet at Camanche and 5 feet at LeClaire. Expect water levels to drop this upcoming week. Water clarity is fair. The water temperature is around 82 degrees. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try stink bait or worms near shore or along brush piles. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Use a simple egg sinker/worm rig in moderate current areas. Find fish near the shoreline in flooded conditions. Largemouth Bass - Good: Bright colored spinners fished along flooded shorelines are picking up some bass. White Bass - Good: Some schools of white bass have been seen in the tailwater area. Use bright jigs or flashy lures. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Focus on rock lines and rock piles with strong current. Flathead Catfish - Good: Some flatheads are hitting crankbaits and jigs along rocky areas. Anglers are using live baits on trot lines with some success. Bluegill - Good: Lower ends of Rock Creek and Catfish Slough have produced some nice bluegills; mainly using worms and bobbers. White Crappie - No Report: Try newly exposed brush piles with small minnows and jigs.  Mississippi River Pool 15
      Water levels are 6.3 feet at Rock Island. Expect water levels to drop this upcoming week. Water clarity continues to improve. The water temperature is around 82 degrees. Channel Catfish - Excellent: Try stink bait or worms near shore. Freshwater Drum - Excellent: Use an egg sinker and worm rig fished near shore in moderate current areas. Flathead Catfish - Good: Use live bait above large dead falls. Smallmouth Bass - Fair: Try spinners, jigs and crankbaits in rock lines and piles with strong current.  Water levels are receding throughout the district. Levels are below what anglers have seen in a few years. Be careful boating; many underwater hazards are now exposed. If you have any angling questions, please contact the Bellevue Fisheries Station 563-872-4976.   
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