On a very dark night, night before last, using my headlamp, I went out to the woodshed to carry some firewood over to the sauna. As I exited the woodshed. I became aware of something to the northeast of me, about 30 to 40 feet away. At first glance, I thought it was deer. We’ve had a lot of them around this winter, kicking up the snow beneath the apple tree, looking for fallen apples.
Within a split second it registered that deer eyes shine green in the dark, while these were amber.
I jumped. Though wolves have lost much of their fear of man in their many generations since they were hunted locally, it is uncommon to see them up so close. While I am as aware as anyone that wolf attacks on humans are almost non-existent, there is something about wolves that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Their stealthy ghost-like appearance and disappearance has fascinated me since I was very young.
I don’t dislike wolves. Having them around makes me feel I still live in a somewhat wild place. My Ojibwe cousins refer to them as “Ma-inga,” the friend of man. I not sure I care to go that far, but those who hate wolves because they take deer should quit driving before complaining. Drivers kill ten times the number of deer than wolves do.
There are three packs locally, the Island Lake pack, the Bergen Lake pack, and a pack to the west that ranges between Caribou Lake and the Cloquet River. I love to hear their howls on a full moon night, sad and haunting.
You can always tell the difference between timber wolf howls and coyotes, or brush wolves, as they are known locally. Timber wolves never bark, while the howl of a brush wolf ends with a series of yaps or barks. There are few brush wolves in our area as the timber wolves kill them off.
I moved to the east just a bit, where my headlamp showed the silhouette of the nearest wolf – probably the Alpha male. Long legs and still sporting a full winter coat, he looked magnificent. Five other pairs of eyes stared unblinking behind the Alpha male. For a minute or two, he stood still as the sphinx. Then he turned his head back toward the pack and, as with one mind, they turned and headed north.
The photos on this page are off the internet. The photo below looks something like what I saw. Wish I’d had a camera.