I have hesitated to post this story for a few years. The main reason is that most people would find it far too unbelievable and therefore it could discredit the other true stories that are posted on these blog pages.
I have decided to post the story because, well, if you really knew me you would understand and accept what I say. If you watched me set a chair in the front yard and have all the feral cats in the neighborhood drop by and visit me, then this story is simple to accept.
This is, after all, Idaho. Rule of thumb is that once you leave the pavement you are no longer at the top of the food chain. Through the 90’s during each summer I would take my Dad’s 1970 Chevy C-10 pickup into the central Idaho mountains and cut a winters supply of fire wood. Each trip was for more than 100 miles and it would take several trips. I would cut about one chord of wood per trip. When I found a good area for the woodcutting I would stay in that area as much as possible. This story begins in the summer of 1991 while cutting wood for my Dad.
It was my third trip to a really good area about 20 miles east of Council, Idaho. At once I was close to my daily chord of wood and the sun was going down to the horizon. The weather had been perfect and now there was stillness in the air as I loaded the saw, gas and oil into the truck. By the time I pulled out of that part of the woods it was just dim enough to have the headlights on more for safety than seeing the road.
I pulled out of the small and brushy branching road onto a more formal road; but, still it was more a trail than a true road. Within just 100 feet there he was. The most beautiful wolf I have ever seen in the wild. He was not one of the slinky dark wolves imported by the Idaho Fish & Game, but one of the original wolves of the area. More husky dog in appearance sitting regally on the road where he could have been watching me all day. The wolf then stood up, stretched and yawned. With slow deliberation the wolf left the road, step by step until the beautiful sight of him vanished in the brush.
I made it home by 11pm and the following morning began unloading the pickup. I told my Dad about the wolf and he found it hard to believe that an original Idaho wolf would be around. When I was a kid growing up in the Donnelly Idaho area we would occasionally see the king of the wolves, by family and packs; however, slowly through the years, probably from hot shot teenagers, the local wolves vanished. The last pack I saw in person was as I was out hunting on West Mountain and a deer jumping right over me, spooked me. As I watched the deer vanish downhill, a pack of about 15 wolves ran right past me and did not care that I was there. This was in 1971. Back then the animals all reacted naturally, as they should. It was before the ranchers destroyed the Deer/Elk populations with their indiscriminate applications of antibiotics for the bovines and indirectly for the cloven hoofed critters. The ranchers caused a decline in Elk, Deer, their own cow herds, chipmunks, fish and fish habitat. Further through the reading of my stories you will find “The Wolf Knows (Nose).” There you will find how they did it.
After splitting the new load of wood and a bit of home cooking rest time, I headed for the mountains to the same exact location I had been to before. Around 2pm I stopped for lunch, consisting of sandwiches, coffee in the mug, tater chips, and some pudding. Then it happened again, only more personal. The king of the wolves, the native Idaho wolf that had watched me two days before, showed up on the same bit of road I was on. He sat just 20 feet in front of me with front paws forward in a “Sphinx” position. Just how he positioned himself saying “I am not a threat.” I slowly moved toward the wolf to within 10 feet of him on all “fours” and then sat myself comfortably on the ground. We spent a long while just looking each other over. We were looking at physical detail, but also how our feelings were being projected. Then came the images.
The area where we were is where he spent his summers. He showed me an area several miles away near the confluence of the Main Weiser River and the Middle Fork of the Weiser River. I get the feeling there was an old barn in the area that he spent the worst of the winter weather in as he got older and in more pain. I was so totally thankful for all he was showing me, but I had no clue as to why he chose me. Then I figured the king of the wolves likely watched all the timber cutters until he found one that could listen. For the next ten years, each time I went into the area the wolf befriended me. Then I saw him no more. We actually got very close to each other and I petted him on our last visit. He seemed to teach me much and that knowledge is applied to my blog story "The wolf knows."
Location: 7 miles south of White Licks, a bit east into the mountains.
Location: 7 miles south of White Licks, angled into the hills.