Posts from the ‘Timber Wolf’ Category

Timber Wolf eating deer video

The trip to daycare is never dull…okay, most of the time it’s pretty dull. Birk and Bjorn stay pretty quiet as long as I have the radio tuned to WNCB Christian hit radio and keep tossing fishy crackers, granola bar bits, or whatever edible thing I find in the Subaru’s crevices into the back seat. But today, we didn’t get more than a mile from home when I saw a mammal in a hayfield. It was a long ways out, but at first glance I thought it was a Coyote. But it looked too bulky.

I had taken Bridget’s car this morning and so I didn’t have my camera along (Rule #1 of wildlife photography: ALWAYS have your camera in your car!). Fortunately Bridget did have her binoculars under the car seat and I was able to get a good look at the mystery animal. I put them up to my eyes and found myself staring into the distinctive face of a Timber Wolf! So I told the boys to “hang on!” and back we raced to the house. I nabbed my camera and tripod and sped back.

The wolf wasn’t there! I scanned the field cursing my lack of preparation when I spotted him, closer to the road now. He was laying down and gnawing on a deer carcass. I imagine he was able to kill the deer last night and just lingered on feasting until morning (it was past 8:30 am by now). I was filming in plain view but he gave me few glances. Wolves can only be confused with Coyotes under the worst conditions or at very long distance. Wolves are much bulkier, longer-legged, and lope with a loose-jointed gait. Their head is blockier and they often show white rings around the eyes. Wolves also lack the extensive red of some Coyotes and may be very white or very black (Coyotes don’t show this pelage variation).

I walked another 50 feet closer. He seemed undaunted but finally got up and without effort snapped a deer leg off to take with him (the original “take out” meal). He loped across the field and stopped near the tree line to take one last look at the man who interrupted his meal.

Back at the car, the troops were doing fine after about 20 minutes left to entertain themselves (I was always within sight of the car). I managed to find a bag with some mini rice cakes with chocolate drizzle, and these served as a fine treat for a very patient 3-year old and very tolerant 17-month old.

Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 and stacked 2x and 1.4x teleconverters, tripod.
The use of 2 teleconverters is not recommended for still photography except in occasions where it’s better to have a record photo rather than no photo at all. You lose quite a bit of sharpness and contrast. You can get away with it more easily in video though, where your filming at 1/60 second.]
[Photo is a single frame plucked from the video (1920x1080pixels).]

Wolf Chase…A Near Miss

It was our first chance to get up the North Shore together in a long time. My folks cheerfully volunteered to drive up and watch the kids for the day. Bridget and I left Skogstjarna about 7am and headed towards Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail, driving through some rain, some fog, some drizzle on the way. Just south of the Caribou River I passed a truck who was driving quite slowly, brake lights on…As we passed him, I saw the Timber Wolf loping down the ditch parallel to Highway 61. I yelled out, “It’s a wolf!”…the only appropriate response to such a sighting. Bridget hadn’t seen it so we swung around to try and relocate him/her. I had forgotten the lesson every wildlife photographer visiting Yellowstone knows…You always slow down when you see brake lights…Someone has probably spotted something “good.”

We had barely pulled off the road when we spotted the wolf coming right towards us. He dropped down into a puddle not 40 feet from us and started lapping up the water. I had my camera with telephoto lens prepared and laying on the back seat. Bridget rolled down her window and I started shooting. I got off three shots before the wolf got up and trotted down the ditch behind us, in the process coming within 20 feet of Bridget. He paid us no attention. Hmmm, a thirsty wolf who is preoccupied…He must be hunting! Sure enough as we again turned the car around we found him weaving in and out of the woods at a determined pace. Prey was within striking distance but his nose couldn’t quite pinpoint it. Just then a small deer popped out of the forest and crossed the road. Twenty seconds later the wolf crossed the road, completely ignoring an oncoming car (see photo above). We sat patiently for another few minutes hoping to see this drama unfold, but we witnessed nothing but fog and silence.

Finally with time to “chimp,” I looked at my first three photos…All were soft, not sharp…I checked my camera settings. The camera had somehow been turned to Program mode which “decided” 1/125 of  a second was fast enough. Not even close! (photo immediately below) Oh well, the wolf was so close that I couldn’t even get his entire head in the frame with the 400mm.

It reminded me of a time during the “film days” when I happened upon a Timber Wolf loping along the same road but during peak fall colors. I had my camera ready, I rolled down the window (a crank window) and shot one “insurance shot.” The wolf had paused and was looking at me, framed by fall colors. I pressed the shutter…Nothing! I was out of film! You can see the result in the bottom image. A “memory shot” that was supposed to remind me always to have the camera handy and set to the proper settings for the unexpected that all wildlife photographers expect. I almost redeemed myself today.