Black Magic

By Michael Quinton
A wilderness without wolf tracks is just plain scenery.
We delight in their wild beauty, yet fear their savage nature.
All feet and legs
The five month old pup has the right equipment, but survival depends on learned behavior too. Social skills will be as vital as hunting prowess.

Hang time at the rendezvous.

These five month old wolf pups hang out at a rendezvous site, where adults or juveniles are usually on babysitting duty.

Right: Having lost track of his siblings in thick brush, the pup plops down on the gravel and howls for help. Sound, sight and scent marking keep the pack connected.

Testing the waters.

Injured and under attack, the bull, moose finds sanctuary in the river.

Lean, mean travel machines.

Hunting, scouting, social and security forays keep wolves on the move.

Winter nightmare

Flesh ripped from the bone, a caribou’s winter nightmare frozen in time.

Fast food.

A wolf races to beat an arctic ground squirrel to its hole. The plump rodents make up a large percentage of wolves summer diet in Interior Alaska.

Mama bear snoozed. A rufus colored cub with dark legs lazily nipped grass shoots. The bears were spread forty or fifty yards apart across spring brown slopes of alpine tundra. A straw blond male cub a distance away kept himself entertained. Barely tolerated by the other bears, he was spring struck with the maleness bug.

The black wolf, a young female came from behind skirting my son Josh and I. A black beauty, gave us but a brief stare before loped off towards the bears. The blond male cub tried ignoring the wolf. The rufus cub was eager for the confrontation. As the wolf circles the cub pivots keeping his business towards the bear and more important his ample rear end away from the wolf. The wolf swaps directions and they doe see doe. Wolf stops. Grizzly’s short fuse smolders. Yellow eyes burn. Bear explodes. Instinctively the wolf whirls, in perfect step with the charging bear.

The brazen wolf slipped up close behind the big sleepy sow. Changing course, jumping back, always moving, the wolf is hard to read, like a weasel. The wolf sniffed at the bear, even pressing his nose deep into her fur. How much of this could the mountain bruin take? She slowly swung her huge head around, easing into position. A bone crushing right hook uncoils like a steel trap, ripping out a thick swath of fresh mountain air.

The annoyed grizzly sow began to feed. But the wolf shadows her and they graze together just a few yards apart. When the sow bedded down again, the wolf edged closer. With a sudden lunge the black wolf nips the grizzly on the rear end.

Reckless fun? Or......
Pushin mama bears buttons like that. Reckless fun, or a deadly serious game played by a predator refining technique and timing? Were we witnessing a teenage wolf discovering her own awesome abilities? And isn’t living life to the fullest
...simply survival?