Minnesota Wildlife Adventures by Ron Toel

I had seen wolves before, but they were usually fleeting glances as one runs across the road in front of me or something to that effect. Wayne has had experiences with wolves as well. All I knew about them was they study their prey, before they make their kill.

In my readings I had read that Aggaziz NWR in Minnesota had the largest per capita of moose per square mile than any place in the US (no longer true because of a liver fluke infestation.). I had no moose images, so away I go for a few days.

It was September and the rut should be in full swing. I drove every aspect of the reserve for three days and got many great shots (It is a very interesting place to go.) I took images of mink, muskrat, fox, and many duck and duck-like birds, hawks, many smaller birds, snakes, salamanders, spider orbs covered with dew, but no moose.

I decided that since I was not seeing moose to try some of the other wildlife refuges in the area, all with in an hour or two. (There are 4) The first was a prairie set up because a grouse lek. I went to the next one and it was a tamarack forest. So far nothing. The third one was a small patch of woods and prairie mixture, Here I saw some ruffled grouse running in almost every patch of woods. This was a new species for me to photograph, so I thought I would spend the rest of the day chasing (out waiting) grouse. This took most of the daylight hours and I decides to spend the night in my truck which was designed for one to sleep in the back. My thoughts were that early morning light they would come to the edge to get warm, and I would get some good shots.

While I was cooking supper, I heard leaves rustling, but I could never see anything. So I went to bed. In the middle of the night, I was awaken with strange noises. I had to urinate and I got out and heard lots of rustling leaves in the woods, but could not see anything. So I went back to bed and fell asleep listening to the night sounds and the rustling leaves.

I awoke with the sun, and the leaves were still rustling. This time, however I could see movement in the trees. I strained my eyes as I ate my breakfast. Then I saw what looked like a coyote. I watched, as the sky got lighter. It watched back. The sun was up and the animal stood up and paced a bit. I could see it was way to big for a coyote…..It was a wolf. It laid back down and watched some more, and I watched back.

Then it got up and circled the truck and found a new spot looking straight into glass of the rear of my box cover. It stood and watched me moving around in the back of my truck. I opened the rear glass, and it turned and run. In a few minutes, it was back. I got one shot. It flinched. It then placed itself behind a tree, and occasionally would stick its head out. Again it laid down. And just stared. That icy stare made the hair on my arms and neck stand on end. One has never lived until one has faced the icy stare of a wolf that has plans on using you for supper.

After about an hour or so it left. I got in my truck and went back to Aggaziz. I only got one shot, but I was not eaten, and I lived to tell about it. I consider it an adventure.

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