Gray Wolves captured by Z 9 / 180-400f5.6

And as quickly as they appeared in the west, they disappeared to the east. We saw the lead animals reappear from under the bank a few hundred yards away as they looped towards the Madison Junction Ed Building. Soon, I saw the black wolf up on the bluff a 1/2 mile away looking out over the Madison River to the south. I wasn’t counting wolves, just amazed how much landscape they had covered in such a very short period. I was standing there watching them through the Z 9 / 180-400f5.6 (at 560mm with the 1.4x engaged) as they started to vanish into the trees. Right then I heard Justin say, “Moose, don’t move, to your right!” in a low whisper. I changed my vision from my left eye looking through the EVF to my right eye and slowly turned my head. The last two wolves popped up from the bank I was told with a bound and boom, were standing at the edge. With the lens still at 560mm, I slowly turned to frame up the two wolves. I laid on the hammer and photographed them for a very short period before they slid back down to the lower path and continued on with their journey. My time with them standing there was stunning, and brief and if I wasn’t already set up to shoot and the Z 9 wasn’t the machine it is, I wouldn’t have gotten off a shot. It was just that fast … and that amazing!

This was the second of five encounters we would with the Wapiti Pack in four days. Looking at my files, I was photographing them for only nine minutes (watching them for about 30 minutes). The encounter was just that brief. I filed over two thousand images in that short time but more importantly, is an experience forever engraved on my heart. And the most amazing aspect of this brief encounter, it’s not the one that has left an indelible impact on me. That encounter was still to come. The wolves are a very important piece of our wild heritage, still vastly misunderstood by most, as romantic and a symbol of our wilderness as when we first landed in North America hundreds of years ago. An encounter with them is one you’ll never forget.

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