A brief escape into the wolf country found me looking at tranquil little trout lakes, that only a day earlier had been covered with ice, and rivers that were running too high and too cold for much chance at either steelhead or brook trout. As a result, most of the week's time was not spent fishing, rather putting up firewood, making road repairs, pumping water, tree planting, reading, and just relaxing with Blondie, away from the political and cultural junk of our regular lives. It was great to be back in that wild country, far from the torments of the daily slog, but I didn't seem to need it as desperately as in past years. Perhaps the seventh decade is finally mellowing the old fart. Winter turned to summer over the course of the five days spent there as temperatures soared from the forties into the mid eighties. Ridiculous!
Mornings at sunrise, and evenings before sunset with its attendant cocktails are reserved for long walks with the dogs down a series of old logging trails across the creeks and beaver meadows and black spruce thickets that make up the back country around the Caribou highlands. These forays can sometimes be a tricky business in that the potential for encountering a wolf or a pack of wolves, that we share this landscape with is a real possibility. I don't have any real negative issues with wolves, except that they kind of hate dogs and if these distant cousins actually meet, then usually the dog gets killed and that's a pretty crappy thing to have happen on your vacation. So most of the time I pack some heat - just in case. Visions of a paperback book cover of some Edgar Rice Burrowsesque adventure come in view, whereby the Piscator wades into a deadly fray between his trusty hounds and a slathering, white fanged pack of rabid wolves. Shirtless and dashing, revolver in hand, he kicks, punches and manhandles hundred pound wolves as if they were mere rabbits, saving his dogs, sending the pack scrambling away with tucked tails, and bringing back a prize pelt for his lady love. Wait, didn't I say that this was before cocktails? Anyway, I usually carry an old Webley Mark IV .38 revolver, just to feel a little more manly in the very rare instance that a canine confrontation might become reality. Back when there were still moose in this country, I had two very close calls with the dogs on an evening walk, and in one case even pulled the revolver, but didn't use it. Moose are far more dangerous than any wolves I have ever met, hence another reason that I usually carry a gun if I am with the dogs.
So, one evening after the dog walk I was sitting on the porch of the cabin watching the day go down, listening to the spring peeper chorus and the wooodleing of a courting snipe flight and enjoying an adult beverage when a pair of Canada geese began an agitated honking in the beaver pond about a quarter mile downslope from our little shack . I could tell from the tone of the pair that there was something they did not like about the company around their presumed nest site - I didn't even know there was a nesting pair in the pond until this alarm began. Again, visions of a hungry pack of wolves stalking the pond edge, or a reluctant lynx not quite sure about tackling two honkers. Perhaps a fisher, bent on goose grease, or maybe a hungry bear fresh from hibernation with a monster appetite - yes this was after cocktails. Anyway, there are plenty of predators around and these geese were pissed off about something.
The next night found us on the evening walkabout, returning to the cabin past this pond where the geese had been spooked the night before, and once again they were making a ruckus about something. Stopping in the shadows of the black spruce that line the west side of the pond, I scanned the far shore, hoping to see what all the fuss was about. I watched for several minutes as the dogs flopped and waded in the pond on the opposite side of the logging road. They were screened from a view of the pond by the tall dead sedge and cattails that bordered the road. I continued looking in the direction of the goose conversation and after a few minutes I could make out a lone wolf. Sure enough, there it was, creeping along the far shore, head down, sniffing the ground, trying to figure out how to make dinner out of those geese. And it was heading in our direction. I also could see the heads and necks of the geese poking above the vegetation, but in the open water, swimming parallel to the wolf on the shore - following and perhaps harassing it as it moved along the edge. The dogs weren't able to see or smell the wolf and neither could it see or smell them. There was no wind. The wolf didn't see me either, as I was standing in the shadows. But the black flies and mosquitoes had just come out that very day and they were getting fierce as it got closer to sundown. I was going to have to swat pretty soon.
The wolf kept coming toward us at a slow but steady pace and if it didn't change its course it would be crossing the logging road about forty yards ahead in only a couple of minutes. This was not looking like a good situation. I began to play out a worse case scenario........... ah crap! I was not interested in any blood and guts there. All three of my dogs are fearless when it come to chasing stuff, and I was thinking how this could get real bad real quickly if I didn't somehow manage some way out of this deal. The youngster, who's the boldest of the three has had to be whacked at "Maximum Electrocution Mode" on the e-collar to stop him chasing coyotes out in the pheasant fields - this wasn't looking good at all. So at that point I reached down for the old reliable............uh...............duh............"Where's your gun, man?...................uh.......................duh...................back at the cabin?" Good one, Dude.
I watched for a little longer to see if this wolf was alone or if its buddies were in on the goose pestering, and at that point the old heart rate started to rise and move up into the area of my throat. I wouldn't say I was scared exactly, but yes a might nervous. After a couple more moments of scrutiny, it appeared as if the wolf was indeed all alone so I decided that I better make the first move. Swallow. Stepping out from the shadows, I said very loudly in my best British accent, "Oi!" The wolf's head popped up and it froze like it had been whacked with the shock collar. Intently staring in my direction from about 75 yards away, I could see in its posture how it was trying to understand what the hell had made that soccer hooligan outburst. The dogs, of course, thought I was yelling at them, and came bounding over to me to see what was up - all tails wagging and bustling around each other. Still screened by the vegetation, neither lupus nor familiaris could see each other. The frozen wolf didn't appear to be leaving anytime soon, so I waved my arms and shouted, "Hey, you get the hell out of here!!" at which point the wolf did a big wheel around and was gone into the forest in a flash. Gone. Wow. Gone. No blood and guts. Gone. No paperback novel cover. Gone. Dodged that one! It took a couple of minutes for the old heart rate to return to normal and then I abruptly realized, that I was being eaten alive by the fucking mosquitoes!!!"
Luckily, the dogs never figured out what all the shouting was about, probably just thought I was having a bad day - again!! We made it back to the cabin without any other adventures and I poured myself a V.O. on the rocks and sat on the porch to watch the rest of the evening go down.