On a cool autumn evening in October we drove down an unpaved-country road in search of the wild Wisconsin wolf. It was a perfect night for a wolf howl survey. There was a full moon out that night. The night air was cool with no breeze. A perfect night to make our human-howls carry through the night air.
We stopped the car deep in the woods, and quietly exited the vehicle. We walked to a spot in front of the car about 50 feet away. We waited for the sounds of the car motor to die-down. Jeff made the first howl with no response. Then, I howled, and there was a response. We heard wolves howl from our left about a hundred yards away.
The forest canopy blocked out any moonlight making it impossible to see your hand in front of your face. That’s how dark it was in the forest that night.
Then, shortly after we heard the howls, a lone howl cut through the night air, and to my surprise, was not far from where I stood. I frooze, didn’t even breathe, because that’s how close the lone wolf was to me. I listened for any sounds that would reveal the position of the lone wolf. There was no sound, no sounds of rustling leaves, not a sound to be heard; except the sound of my heart pounding in my chest.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Did a wolf just howl right next me me?
We figured the howl was around 70 feet from my position, and in the forest to my right. We must of interrupted this lone wolf, who was about to cross the road. We were in between the lone wolf and the rest of their family. We didn’t want to disturb them any further, and so we got back in the car and left the area.
I’ll never forget that night. It’s etched into my memory forever; The call of the wild lone wolf, 2006, while helping to monitor wolves for the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program.
Featured image is from a trail camera in northern Wisconsin.