Most people don’t get the chance to feel the mixed inner desire to stay on your hunting stand five more minutes and in the same heartbeat know you should run like hell. The first time I felt this combination of extreme pleasure and duress was in 2009 when I was on my first bear hunt. I was dropped off at my stand and told to come down if I shot something or if I was going to the truck. Keith, my guide, said, “Stay as long as you can because this bear comes in late.”
Now, besides being up a tree only 10 feet and just 16 yards away from the bait, I also noticed that the trail I came in on was the same trail also used by bears. The next few hours I sat in the tree wondering whether I should look forward, look behind me or not move at all. These intense moments were unlike anything I had ever experienced and wonderfully exciting, at least until it got dark.
Minutes turned into hours as light escaped the woods and at that very moment my heart told me to stay put while my brain screamed to leave. Finally, when my heart gave up I was reminded that I could soon find myself face to face with a bear on the trail. The inner debate quickly changed as it was my heart now telling me to have courage and get down and my brain telling me “Heck NO there are bears down there!” Needless to say, I got out of that treestand and lived to harvest a big black bear later in the week.
The reason I brought up this story is because today I relived these emotions all over again. I’m back at Bluffy Lake Lodge in northwest Ontario, but this time I’m hunting wolves instead of bears – but night gets just as dark and the adrenaline is all the same.
Early this morning, Keith and I were across the lake checking a stand location when we noticed a spot for a potential new stand where two old logging roads crossed. Similar to my experience trapping coyotes back home in Missouri, these hubs act as a great spot for marking territory, and as luck would have it wolves proved to be no different. A quarter mile up one of the logging roads is where Keith has been managing a bear bait and wolf bait for the last few weeks. The trail camera showed no real wolf activity in the last 24 hours, but we did have a nice black bear using the area.
At 4pm today I was sitting at the base of a tree all camo’d up and ready for wolves. I really didn’t get nervous until night started setting in, and I reminded myself that I was sitting on the ground. At about 7:30pm with only a few minutes to hunt I switched from the “fawn in distress” call to a young male wolf howl. The sound of this howl against the cold night air made my heart skip a beat as I began to relive my first bear hunting experience. After marking my watch and vowing to stay till 7:45pm I finally got the courage to break my cover, pick up my gear and begin my walk back to lake where Keith was waiting by boat.
There are a lot of reasons to be on edge this time of year in the north country. First, the wolves are packing up and they are looking for food. Second, the few bears that are still out are really looking for big food scores, and finally it is the early moose season and bulls are getting a bit territorial. With all that in mind, my walk to the boat tonight was a bit exciting. The day ended back at camp with the faint glow of the wood stove.
However uneventful the day was in harvesting something, I truly enjoyed the hunt. Hunting dangerous game in the far north is unbelievable and like nothing else. The memories retained here at Bluffy Lake are worth pounds of gold. They take me to a simpler time, a slower time and they offer my soul a time to rest. Rain will be setting in tomorrow and it has become obvious that fall is here.
Continue reading about Heath’s wolf hunt here. Check back at Outdoor Hub throughout the week for more updates from Heath as his wolf hunt in the Canadian northwest continues.