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Near Escapes from a Wolf and a Deer

Wolves have always fascinated and frightened me. I never wanted to meet a wolf alone in the woods or even worse to see a female wolf with her pups. On the other hand, wolves are beautiful animals–sleek, handsome, and intelligent. So I longed to see one from far away.

On May 30, my wish came true near our cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin, close to Upper Peninsula Michigan. I was biking on the old road from our cabin to Land O’Lakes. Suddenly, I saw what I first thought was a German Shepherd crossing the road. Upon closer scrutiny, I realized it was a lone wolf with lovely variegated fur, who was strolling across the road mid-morning, which is not the time you expect to see a wolf.

About two-thirds of the way across, the wolf suddenly stopped and turned toward me. At this point, I was only 15 feet away pedaling on my bike with my helmut and sunglasses on. I held my breath but was strangely moved by the wolf’s intelligence and majesty. I realized this is the king of the forest. But I was not frightened at all until later.

Apparently, the wolf did not think I posed a threat, so he returned to his route and entered the woods.

On the same day, toward dusk I was coming back from getting groceries with my mother-in-law. Our electricity had gone out for a few hours, so we thought we would pick up groceries then instead of the morning.

As we headed toward home but still in town, I saw an animal bound into my line of peripheral vision. It was a large doe that danced in front of my headlights and zig-zagged closer to my headlights–all within a matter of seconds. I hit the brakes just in time to miss it, and the doe continued across the road.

My mother-in-law was shrieking, but I was oddly calm when it happened and remarkably thankful that I had avoided hitting the beautiful doe. Now I know how easy it is to hit them. The headlights really confuse the deer and make the encounter more dangerous, not less.

The Native Americans believe wolves endow human beings with courage, strength, loyalty, and success at hunting. I believe the wolf gave me the courage and strength to anticipate the doe’s movements and brake at the right moment to avoid hitting her.

Here’s to the wolf. May wolves long reign in the Midwest and West and may human beings leave the wolves to their natural terrain and habits.

Jun. 10, 2013