by Matt Lenix
I'm awake. The predawn air is cool and damp. It's raining. I go
mark my territory and check for intruders.
I had settled in my den shortly after sunset, having had a successful day, satisfied and tired after the hunt.
The rest of the pack is still sleeping, but as Alpha, as they call me, I am restless, almost agitated. I try to
lay in my den, quietly. But all I can do is pace back and forth. Feeling caged, I prance into the freedom of
the night and howl. A long lonely wail. It pierces the night, echoing off the canyon walls in the distance. The
damp April air has told me it is time to choose my mate, my "Beta". As April turns to May and the warm
spring, it is time. The pups will do well in the warm spring air of this meadow I had chosen months ago as
home for the winter. The hunting has been good and the pack has all survived.
Suddenly, there is a stir in the den, the others are waking. The
yearlings are restless too. Soon they will be
grown enough to become full members of the pack. As they depend less and less on their mothers, I must
teach them to hunt. Not a simple task for they are young and find play more entertaining. However, if they
are to survive next winter they must learn. The others are emerging now, amid barks and yelps all are
greeted. But for me it's time to lead the hunt. The faint signs of dawn are beginning to show in the east.
Although it is still raining, the sky tells me it will clear
As I organize the pack, they too are becoming
restless, hungry, eager to eat. I've chosen a path along the creek, through the tree line to the pool where
the deer come to drink. This should bring success if the deer choose to come out of the forest. The clouds
are clearing now and the sky is brightening. The moisture and cool air have created a fog. Excellent cover
for the pack.
With a staccato, I bark and the pack responds. The hunt is on. I
lead the pack into the forest, behind me
last year's beta, mothers and yearlings in close, the omega male covering our trail. We must be wary,
alert, for not only does our prey await but also our predator - man. The mist provides excellent camouflage.
As we approach my chosen trap zone, the pack breaks, several cross the creek to encircle our prey, the
rest follow more closely now. We are silent now in our stealth. Instinctively we encircle the pool and lay in
wait. The sunrise coming over the ridge may provide the distraction blinding the prey at the moment of
attack. We are all in place. The perimeter is surrounded, escape routes sealed. Should the prey run, they
must run upstream, assuring an easy kill. I raise my snout. No predators. I smell again. The deer are coming.