My first close encounter with a wolf occurred September of 2004. It had rained so much that the trails to my cabin were being flooded with water. I began the task of digging channels so the water could drain out of the low spots. Much time was spent sitting around the cabin and sipping hot tea and then I would go out and do some draining. I would shovel some dirt out of the way and move on to the next spot. Soon I would have to get rid of the tea passing through my kidneys.
I soon noticed that animals had started scratching and marking a lot along the trails I was working on. On the third day of my draining I was on my way to an area miles away to do some work. As I approached the first spot of drainage work I heard something running in the brush to my right. A wolf then crossed the trail fifty feet in front of me. I was elated because this was the first wolf I had seen deep in the forest in over 20 years of hiking around Beltrami Island State Forest in Minnesota. The wolves are always close by but they are so crafty that you never get to see them.
I was carrying some empty tin cans out to the jeep with my backpack so I dropped them off and hiked another three miles before returning. On my way back I could see that the wolf had followed me and scratched his mark into the trail two miles from the first encounter. It finally dawned on me that I had stared a turf war with this wolf. With all the digging I had done to drain water and all the tea that I had left at these spots he finally had enough and confronted me. It explained why I was able to walk up on a crafty old wolf while carrying a pack full of empty tin cans.
Early November found me back at my cabin for the deer season. I spent a lot of the first week sitting in my tree stands. On the eighth day I decided to do some still hunting and headed out at first light. It was a cold crisp morning with clear skies and little wind. You could not walk without making a lot of noise so I would mimic the pattern of a deer moving through the woods. I would walk and stop and move a few steps and stop again. By eight thirty I had gone west about two miles. As I neared the edge of a brushy area I spotted ears moving in some brush 75 feet in front of me. I had deer on the mind and thought I had jumped a doe and fawns. I was trying to make out what was going on when I spotted big wolf staring back at me through an opening in the brush. He kept staring and I soon realized that the morning sun was right behind my head and he could not make me out. A long and lean wolf then left the group and trotted in the brush and went by me about 30 feet to my right. When it had gotten behind me the largest wolf started working around on my left side. It was trotting and I was amazed at the heavy sounds of its footfalls and the noise it was making in the brush. It had traveled around me about 30 degrees from where it had first stood with the sun in its eyes. It stopped in an opening in the brush and looked over at me for a full minute. We were both in the open and I was thrilled at seeing such a beautiful animal so close. The morning sun highlighted his stunning winter pelt. I was sure that the wolf pack thought that I was a deer but could not make me out with the sun in their eyes. It was obvious they were setting up for an attack. When the big wolf stared at me I felt the game was up and I was waiting to see how he was going to alert the others. Instead he continued his trot up my left flank. I was thoroughly enjoying the moment and not thinking of the consequences. There were at least two wolves still standing at the original spot seventy-five feet away. After a little while they started coming forward at a fast crawl with their bellies close to the ground. At fifty feet they would come around a bush and have a clear view of me. Just before they came around the bush they reeled back like they had hit an electric fence. Some of my scent must have moved that way on the early morning air currents. They did not seem to know what to do and just kept nervously milling around. I then spotted the long and lean wolf come back along my right side and return to them. The group then trotted up the route the big wolf had taken on my left flank and melted back into the forest.
I have never been worried about wolves, but as I think about that big
staring me down and then going on to get in position for the kill, I
thoughts because I assume he is the one I had the turf war with
earlier. I have had my moment so next time I will probably cry “WOLF.”
Copyright 2004 by Martin Kehoe- http://www.canoestories.com/kehoe/wolf1c.htm