It was eerily quiet and nothing seemed to be moving as I settled into the igloo-like ground blind for another day-long stand in my never-ending pursuit of the elusive timberwolf.
The detailed landscape from the icy river below and its snow covered banks had now been carved into my memory from what seemed like an eternity of watching, waiting and observing. The food plot below consisting of freshly cut meat scraps marinated in fryer grease seemed undisturbed. The bone-chilling cold from the long dark ride into the forest had made its way deep into my core, so I fired up the heaters and with shaky hands poured my first steaming hot cup of coffee. The ice crystals sparkled in the air as the sun’s rays reached over the treetops while I glassed nearly a half-mile upriver to scan the area for movement or anything out of place.
My head snapped back to a cluster of dark-colored spots that hadn’t been there a minute ago. They seemed to be moving ever so slowly, but it was hard to distinguish that far out. Unlike in previous years, this particular setup added a great deal more to my field of view. I carefully adjusted my optics in near disbelief. There they were. Not one, not two, but several wolves were making their way toward my bait pile that was placed a mere 300 yards below. It didn’t register right away because I had spent four years and hundreds of hours in search of these ghosts without even a glimpse.
The reality of what was about to unfold sunk in as the pack reached the halfway mark. The wolves grew in size as their pace increased to a trot. The adrenaline rush gripped me with all its force. My focus was intense as the first wolf came to within shooting range and reached the food plot. My heart began to pound like a sledgehammer as the second, third, fourth and fifth timberwolves made their way in. The stage was set; it was really happening. In a flash my insides went from icy cold to boiling hot.
Having preplanned my actions many times over, there would be no hesitating or taking chances with these big predators. Given the opportunity, I would squeeze one off as soon as the shot presented itself. My big master plan evaporated quickly as I carefully observed their behavior from high above.
The wolves seemed comfortable and relaxed but on guard nevertheless. They had no inclination of my presence, and with all the time in the world ahead of me, my mind began to race in every direction as the minutes slowly ticked by. I started to second-guess my shooting ability and wondered if the video camera would continue to operate properly without freezing up before I could make the shot. Memories of scouting, mapping and enduring countless hardships were speeding through my mind. The buildup was too much for me to handle. I was overwhelmed and started to tremble uncontrollably, realizing at that moment I was going to choke.
The kind of pressure I was feeling at this exact moment is impossible to articulate. I knew that time was getting short as the wolves were now showing signs of restlessness and could move on at any moment without notice.
I closed my eyes and took several deep, heavy breaths. Miraculously, I managed to get myself calmed down and I regained control. A minute ago it could have gone either way, but everything now felt right as the wolf I had chosen turned perfectly into position. As I gently squeezed the trigger, the .270 Short Mag. went off like a bomb inside the ground blind. The magnitude of the concussion from the shot caught me off guard as I lost sight briefly. The wolves scattered in a flash, with the exception of one that lay anchored in place with all fours pointing skyward. The last wolf to leave was out of range quickly as I watched it hesitantly, but unwaveringly make its way up the river and out of sight. It must have been tough for them to leave a pack member behind like that, I thought to myself.
Just then, a feeling like no other came over me. The weight of the world was finally lifted from my shoulders. Not only could I talk the talk, but I could also walk the walk! It was like some sort of test or challenge that granted me entrance into an elite category. I had done it. What had begun as something so seemingly simple had transformed itself into an epic marathon event. The hero-like feeling was fleeting, but real, reflecting on the amount of effort it took to succeed on this hunt.
With my equipment gathered up I approached the wolf with extreme caution. Not quite sure what to expect, I wondered if the other wolves were lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on me as I made my final approach. I was extremely nervous. Oh, how your mind can play tricks on you when you’re solo, deep in the frozen wilderness of the Canadian boreal forest. It was ominous, but I was prepared for anything as I gently placed my hands on him for the first time and savored the moment while examining him carefully.
With a celebratory coffee in hand I watched the video replay. Something seemed off. It wasn’t obvious at first,but like an optical illusion playing a trick on my mind, it was crystal-clear on tape. The bullet had penetrated through the intended target with lethal force and embedded itself deep into the one behind that lay lifeless at my feet. My target had been hit hard and ran off. Could it be a double? Could it really be a double, I thought to myself?
I started tracking and found a tiny speck of blood, and the overpowering aroma of wolf tweaked my sense of smell. It was pure, raw and unmistakable. Only a few dozen yards away, just over the riverbank, lay the other timberwolf. He was just as majestic, but noticeably larger. I knew I had reached the pinnacle of my adventures to date. Two timberwolves with one shot! What an incredible journey this had been, I thought euphorically. As outdoorsmen we hear and share adventures that can sometimes seem so farfetched that some may be dismissed as make-believe, but as good fortune would have it, on that particular day in February, my video camera was rolling so that we could all enjoy viewing and reading the rare events of this unforgettable moment together.