Morning Visitors - Jimmy Breitenstein

Morning Visitors

Wolves have always been #1 in my book, an animal I’ve always wanted to help protect, to observe and photograph in the wild. So when the opportunity came to backpack back country Yellowstone I was all over it. I spent months preparing and researching all the best wolf territory, the different wolf packs, back country trails, etc, to give myself the best chance to see and photograph these beautiful, elusive animals in their natural home. When the trip finally began I couldn’t wait to find my wolves! Days started to fly by without any sign of wolves: no tracks, no scat and no morning or evening howls. I was starting to lose hope. Finally, on day eight and about 60 miles into the trip I saw my first fresh wolf sign in a large field overlooking the Lamar River. If I was going to see my wolves it was going to be here. I set up camp just outside the field in a thicket of trees and waited. Hours passed and nothing came, though that evening I saw a sickly bull elk come down into the field, but no other signs of wildlife. Morning of day nine came and still no wolves. I had about 13.5 miles to go that day so I started packing my things, and that’s when I heard it. Howls! I grabbed my camera and bolted for the field in my thermal underwear, boots and llama-hair hat (I must have been quite the sight!). I observed the field for about 10 minutes and still didn’t see any wolves. I must have scared them with my ridiculous appearance. As I turned to return to camp there it was again, another howl! Finally, after days of searching I had found them. In the field was a large blood-stained male. They had made a kill that morning (the sickly elk I had seen the previous night) and he was calling in the rest of the pack. To the left I saw movement and there were two more, another male and a beautiful white female! I was able to get a few decent pictures before they turned and faded into the forest. Months of planning and days of constant hiking, searching, listening and waiting to result in the most exciting few minutes of my life! Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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