Hunting Among Wolves
After a controversial move to introduce the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park, the carnivores have spread across Montana. Since then, our lives haven't been the same.
Illustrations by Sishir Bommakanti
Winter landed hard in Montana last November, about the time we learned that a new wolf pack in the neighborhood had pushed the elk out of our honey hole. But we kept trying, my grandson and I. One more day of frozen eyeglasses and icicles in my beard, we decided, and we’d hunt someplace else.
The next day at dawn, we spotted two sets of elk tracks, hot ones, the first we’d seen since the snow had blanketed everything a few days earlier. We crept up the ridge, where I really thought we’d find elk grazing in the meadow. But all we got was track soup. And a story. Smooth and fresh as a clean sheet, the snow told a tale. The elk had come through before dawn, walking north in no particular hurry, facing the wind. Then they bolted south, fast. The snow told us why.
The elk had stumbled into five wolves, sleeping in the sparse sage. We saw the wolves’ icy beds, places where they had dug at the frozen ground, tussled and played, peed on the shrubbery, trampled …