Follow the Pack and friend Billie hiked about four miles in the home range of the Hawk’s Nest pack in eastern Arizona on Monday. The weather was sunny, with a high temperature in the 60’s.
We found several wolf scats along the way. As we hiked back to camp, we stopped to make a cast of a wolf track in the dried mud of a forest road. It takes a half hour or more for the cast to get hard enough to remove from the ground, so we sat down to wait and have a snack.
Mexican wolf tracks in dried mud
While we waited, we had a good view of a grassy valley. It must have been our lucky day, because we soon noticed three canids (members of the wild dog family) moving up the valley. Although they were as far away as the length of one-and-a-half football fields, a look through the viewfinder of my camera clearly showed the dark radio collar on one of the animals. They were Mexican gray wolves!
Mexican gray wolf in Hawk’s Nest territory. Note the dark radio collar
All three wolves moved slowly up the valley. Apparently they didn’t realize we were watching. Perhaps the breeze was blowing our direction, so they couldn’t catch our scent. The wolves didn’t hurry, as long as they didn’t know we were watching.
One lobo even stopped to check out something on the ground.
Finally, one of the wolves must have gotten a whiff of us or heard us talking, even though they were still far away. The wolves gave two or three short, sharp barks. One gave a single howl. All three wolves ran quickly up the ridge across the valley and disappeared.
When they caught our scent, the wolves quickly ran up the hill and out of sight.
I’ve been following the Mexican wolf packs for twelve years, but this was the first chance I’ve had to get good photographs of lobos in the wild. The wolves usually act just like these three, running away as soon as they are aware that people are watching. If you ever get a good look at a wild lobo, you can be sure it was your lucky day.