Arctic wolves are the ultimate predators. Large, almost the size of an adolescent tiger, turquoise blue eyes and fluffy white fur make them exceedingly cuddly, but I would have ta call you a richardhead if you tried to cuddle them. The startling eyes and the fluff hide an ethos that is emotionless, cold and entirely self-serving. In the environment they inhabit, being Darwinian means the difference between life and death. They are relentless. If they find you, they will form a gradually tightening circle around you, starting with a radius of around twennie feet and steadily closing. At radius zero, they will leap up at you and tear you apart.
This is wolf country and you really need to be hunting in a group so there are others looking out for you, if you wish to come out in one piece.
Alone or even in twos, arctic wolves just might leave you be and slink away if it isn’t meal time yet, but then they are rarely in twos and almost never alone. Arctic wolves hunt in packs that usually number twennie plus.
Panicked, you will of course fight back, maybe shoot wildly at ‘em. Go ahead – you might kill a couple and even grievously injure a few more, but they’ll keep coming at you, in a crouching creep, their pace unhurried. Desperate, you will empty your magazine into them and they’ll still coming at you, only now their jaws will be slightly open and lips pulled way back, baring large jagged teeth, low snarls escaping through large canines. There is no way you have any time ta reload.
In comparison, arctic coyotes, slightly smaller in size (around the same girth as a German Shepherd), don’t forage in such large packs and most likely can be easily shooed away, with just a flashlight, a loud hailer or a shot into the air. Coyotes turn dangerous only when they sense that you are somehow incapacitated, unable ta defend yourself – maybe injured. Coyotes are cowardly nasty, while wolves are majestically brutal.
There, now you’ll know a wolf or a coyote when you see one, won’t you? Just don’t be around them when it is supper time. They don’t give a fly—g f—k if they like the taste of your flesh or they don’t. They’ll tear you apart anyway.
There is however a member of the very same Canis Lupus sub-species that wolves and coyotes are members of, which the Almighty Lord has created, seeing our penchant for trying to domesticate – the malamute, otherwise known as the Siberian husky. Malamutes are friendly and drop-dead cuddly. There is a series of short fiction I had written on ’em and here are the links. Do have a read and send me money –
(I was only kidding about sending me money. I am independently very very rich)
Caribou are easy prey – usually oblivious to the danger a hunter poses them. The herds are so close packed, you could close your eyes and squeeze off four shots and you’d have four carcasses on your hands in no time.
But an easy kill spoils the fun of the chase. So you have left your Lapua behind in the shack and brought the TenPoint Vapor, a baby that is similar to the one shown in the image below. The Vapor fell into your lap literally, when your neighbor, Sam, gave up hunting last summer due to his advancing years. Priced at over three grand brand new, he had agreed to part with it for five hundred, along with the bolts (arrows) and accessories.
You had joined a shooting range in Brossard, to calibrate the scope. An arrow from a crossbow follows a parabolic path and it is very important ta have a feel of distances and how high the bow must be tilted, in order to hit the target. (A 16th century Italian professor at Pisa by the name of Galileo Galilei said that to me once). The instructor at the Brossard crossbow range had been impressed. You were a natural, he said.
At a draw weight of 200lbs – the draw weight being the force with which a crossbow propels the arrow forward – the Vapor can kill a moose at 60 yards. When you press the trigger, the latch releases the arrow with a ‘thung!’ The arrow leaps out in a hazy blurr, covering 50 feet every second. If you get the moose in the neck or even the upper torso, it will pass right through and bury itself in the snow, upto the fletching (the rear fins). You have chosen your arrows judiciously – Carbon Express – the very best in carbon fibre technology – light weight, flexible, unbreakable.
You have also chosen the business end of the arrows – the broad heads – judiciously. They are 125-grain SlickTrick Magnums, blue titanium arrowheads with jagged flanks which look like props from the Lord of the Rings fantasies and slice into bones, arteries and tissue like they were made out of butter.
Some other stuff you have learned over the years, since the Vapor came into your possession – you got yourself an arm rest that you can either stick into the trunk of a tree or upright into the snow. Your TenPoint Vapor is almost as heavy as your Lapua and if you want to hit the target, you have ta have a steady aim, which requires you ta rest your arm for the shot.
A typical SlickTrick Magnum bad guy broadhead
The TenPoint Vapor
Now, where were we. Oh yes, you are around fifty feet from the herd and the caribou appear to be milling around, doing nothing in particular. You can almost hear a ‘Hey, Curly, what you doon tonight, its Friday, lets go get some lichens.’ And the one next to him says, ‘I’m a strictly sedges and shrubs guy, Larry. Besides, I’m hoping Tina’ll let me have her tanight. Its mating season for C’s sakes, I keep tellin’ her.’
You may be close but you still have ta be able to kill. That is another golden rule in hunting – be sure you have lined up a shot that will kill. A hunter isn’t supposed ta be an apathetic sadist. Caribou don’t go down nice and easy. An injured caribou will start running, the blood pumping out of the wound in spurts that keep pace with the beating of its heart. It will run till it drops dead and that can be five kilometers from where he got shot.
Another cardinal rule – don’t run after a wounded caribou. First of all, running in ankle deep snow isn’t easy and the caribou will outrun you anyway. Second, if this is bear or wolf country (which it normally is), you won’t see one coming, so absorbed you’ll be, trying not ta trip over a stone hidden under the snow. Bears and wolves just love ta see fear in the prey and they interpret running as a sign of fear. Soon you, the hunter, will be the hunted and you’ll be running for your life.
You take it easy and follow the trail. You cannot miss the crimson of fresh blood on pristine white snow, so you carefully begin ta follow the trail of blood, while keeping your senses alert, taking a quick glance over your shoulder ta make sure there are no carnivores behind you.
If you were hunting with a crossbow, it won’t be much use as a defensive weapon, so you always tuck a handgun in the breast pocket of your hunting jacket before you leave the shack in the morning. It is a Glock 34 – nice and tidy and should do just fine. When you are looking around for the downed caribou, you will take it out, arm it and hold it in your hand as you walk. Anyway, if the caribou is still alive when you find him, you’ll need the Glock ta despatch him with a round in the head. You take no chances and you don’t get antsy.
You are of course well aware that hunting with a handgun is illegal. You get caught and you have had it. The penalties are huge. You will definitely lose your hunting and gun licenses, besides being fined in the vicinity of five grand, give or take. But heck, this is desolate country and almost certainly there’s not a soul anywhere within five miles of you, no game wardens or forest rangers around these parts, so you relax – you got ta look out for yourself.
There is another reason why you need ta take it easy and walk and stay alert, though it doesn’t apply to you so far up north. But if you were in the wild down south, it would. During moose or deer season, the forests of southern and eastern Quebec are crawling with hunters, especially the government-owned lands where hunting is free and you don’t have ta pay the landlord ta hunt. Another hunter, maybe one of those redneck Rambo-like guys who have a bottle of Jack Daniels in their jacket pocket that they are constantly swigging from, could mistake you for a fleeing whitetail if you were running and you might suddenly watch a third nipple appear in the middle of your chest. That could be the last thing you ever saw.
You love nipples, but three nipples? That is crowd.