"The wolves just stood on the bank watching. They didn't go in the water. It was almost as if they were grinning at a joke they had played. I don't think they were very serious about trying to catch a deer. After a while they got up and trotted toward the hills. That was probably when you saw them."
It was a very good firsthand description of a favorite caribou-hunting technique used by wolves. Since even a caribou fawn, if fit, can outrun them, wolves do not waste much time or effort in unproductive footraces. As these two did at Enterprise, the wolves will approach as closely as possible and then make a quick charge. Normally they will not continue the pursuit unless they discover a deer slow off the mark by reason of age, illness or injury. The seemingly playful rushes that wolves repeatedly make at a herd are an efficient means of determining which caribou can be culled most easily.
After the wolves left we talked of flushing out a grizzly by beating the blueberry bushes to the south of the esker, but this seemed presumptuous, and unsafe. So until Colin came for us we hung around the knoll, watched more caribou and considered what we had seen.
"The best thing about the wolves working the caribou," Ann said, "was that I had such a feeling of being on their home grounds. It was not like seeing the remnants of something that used to be, a freak happening left over from the past. I just knew I was in wolf and caribou country, that this kind of thing has been going on for so long and would probably keep going on."
I told her, "There are a lot of people who have spent a lot of time up here and haven't seen as much as you have in a day. You know how much of my life I've spent thrashing around after animals. This was the best mammal day I've ever had. It was just lucky. It doesn't happen often, even up here." I was trying to be fair, not wanting to justify future schemes entirely on the basis of extraordinary good fortune.
"I know," she said, "but I can see what is so exciting about this country. It is a place where there are great possibilities of something like this happening. But I wonder how it would be if after all of this you went back to cook dinner in a 40-below cabin."
That of course is a very good question, and one that I seem to have a compulsion to answer.