Montana Outdoors

February 8, 2010

Going my way?

Filed under: Animal tracks, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:36 pm

It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps. Judging by the newer prints visible in my tracks of 5 days ago, I’m doing just fine. The snow lets one understand who his trail companions are.

Wolf track

Wolf track

Wolf track

For a little perspective on the size of the wolf’s footprint, the distance from the rear sight of the pistol to the tip of the barrel is 6.25 inches.



  1. Nice looking pistol and that’s a pretty big wolf you got to play with out there. Of Course the Mounties are probably trying to figure out how to ban the pic form the great white north up here but what the heck.


    Comment by dave1949 — February 8, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    • I got a big kick out of that particular wolf. He seemed to pay special attention to walking exactly in my tracks as if to make some kind of a point. The tracks indicated this was a pack of about five and they seemed to be hunting snowshoe rabbits on some open ridges. Sure love to see them around!

      The pistol gets a lot of use; mostly as size perspective for photos. LOL! I carry it all of the time after I had a bit of trouble with a bear a dozen years ago and because there are a few big cats around here that sometimes get rambunctious.


      Comment by montucky — February 8, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

  2. Check out the nail prints! They are almost the size of the trigger in the gun. Glad you get a kick of them being around….I don’t think I would…


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — February 8, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    • That is a distinct a track as I’ve seen, including the nails. I would guess it was made two days after I was there, so about three days ago. I would have loved to see them!


      Comment by montucky — February 8, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

  3. I love the photos Dad! I hope all your readers know you’d never use the gun (unless you were hungry hee hee). I’m sure the regulars have that figured out!
    I agree, he was stepping in your tracks to make a point. How cute! Did you step back over all of them? 🙂 Love you!


    Comment by juls — February 8, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

    • Oh yes, I stepped in a few of his too, just to make a point. I found later today that that pack ranges from there (Loneman Divide), up through Corona and over into the burn area of the Chippy Creek fire. Quite a territory. I will likely cross tracks with them again. Love you too, Hon!


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 12:22 am

  4. Love you two guys staking your claim on the trail with your tracks. I had noticed the claw size. Be careful out there!


    Comment by Cedar — February 9, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    • Seeing tracks like that is a good reason to get out often in the winter. I’ve seen wolf sign (mostly scat) in the summer too, but the tracks tell more of a story. Yes, I’m always careful, but wolves are simply not a threat. Cougar, perhaps. Again though another advantage of having snow: it lets you know who’s there.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  5. A pack of 5? Okay, I wouldn’t want to come upon 5 hungry wolves out there. I know they’re beautiful and all, but still…that is cute that he stepped in your prints. Maybe he just wanted an easier walk.


    Comment by Candace — February 9, 2010 @ 1:21 am

    • The chance of coming upon a pack is just about zero here. They are very smart and their senses are keen and they have absolutely no reason to want to be seen by a person. Over the years, I have seen where many different critters have followed my tracks. This guy came along a couple days after I was there. I’ve had coyotes trail me for miles and when I would double back I could see where they jumped off the trail and headed elsewhere. They are curious, as we would be if someone came into our back yards.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  6. You’re almost dancing with wolves.


    Comment by knightofswords — February 9, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    • In a sense, yes. I’ll have to go back in a few days and see if there are more tracks on top of mine.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  7. That toenail track is great!


    Comment by DaveABirding — February 9, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    • These prints are quite clear because of the wet snow conditions. In cold, fluffy snow it’s difficult to distinguish wolf from cougar tracks because you often can’t see the wolf’s toe nails. These were easy to ID.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  8. Oh my! What big paws you have, Grandma! 😉


    Comment by Barbara — February 9, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

    • Big feet, and where the snow was deeper, he sank way in. A very big, heavy animal.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  9. Yowers! Big bad wolf that is cunning and has sharp toenails! Great perspective with the pistol… and nice looking pistol. I do love wolves, though. LOL I like what knightofswords said, indeed… dancing with the wolves.


    Comment by Anna Surface — February 9, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    • I do like knowing that there are wolves out there now. I see their long strides and the amount of ground they cover and day dream of being able to run with them. There is very strong opposition to them here though and much of it is quite irrational.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  10. That a nice pistol!! Good perspective… great photos.


    Comment by kcjewel — February 9, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    • That pistol has accompanied me in the back country for around 30 years now. I’m kind of getting used to it.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  11. Not sure I would want him for a trail mate. Neat photos though! I’d carry a pistol, too. 🙂


    Comment by kateri — February 9, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    • It would certainly be interesting to be on the trail at the same time with him. I don’t carry the pistol because of wolves though, but as insurance against cats more than anything.


      Comment by montucky — February 9, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  12. How lucky you are to share such a beautiful environment with such wonderful creatures.. I would love to see the pack in their natural setting. People are so misinformed about these animals.


    Comment by SuzieQ — February 10, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    • I would love to see them too, SuzieQ. Perhaps some time I will be able to.

      Yes, there is so much bad information and the whole issue of wolf reintroduction has been so polarized. The misinformation also plays into the fear of the unknown.


      Comment by montucky — February 10, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  13. What a thrill that would be to be so close to such magnificent animals Terry, don’t blame you for packing the heat, I am sure you offended someone by showing it 😉


    Comment by bernie kasper — February 10, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

    • It’s an interesting feeling to see their tracks on top of mine. I really enjoy it and knowing that they are out there. As far as the pistol, well I think it’s rather foolish to go very far into the back country without something to use in defense if necessary. I choose a magnum. This particular one saved me a whole lot of grief on one occasion a dozen or so years ago and it’s always with me now. Very seldom fired.


      Comment by montucky — February 10, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  14. OMG. I have never seen wolf’s footprints. It must be really big. We have in my country wolves, but they to be seen vey seldom. Only on hard winters they can come to somobody’s courtyard.


    Comment by sartenada — February 12, 2010 @ 12:36 am

    • There are something like 500 wolves in the state of Montana. In places like near Yellowstone Park they are more easily seen than they are in this (the western) part of the state. I often see sign of them but as with these tracks, I was there probably three days after they were.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  15. I use to let my big dog run in the open prairies until I started thinking about wolves and coyotes. Well snakes and bob cats as well. I can understand why you would carry a pistol.


    Comment by Preston Surface — February 15, 2010 @ 6:54 am

    • I often take my dog with me unless I’m going into Grizzly territory. The pistol is mostly because there are a few aggressive cougar around. I always carry it in my vehicles as well because there have been times when it was necessary to dispatch animals that have been severely injured on the highways. I just can’t leave them to suffer for hours or perhaps days before they die.


      Comment by montucky — February 15, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  16. That’s one good sized wolf, Terry. I think he is just letting you know he’s keeping an eye on you. Good to know you are packing.
    I read a book recently stating a good water pistol loaded with ammonia water and a sprinkle of cayenne was a excellent deterrent for wild animals and man alike. Safer than pepper spray because you could be overcome with the pepper spray too. The water pistol does not do any permanent harm to them. They will recover. Yet you certainly stop them! No need to be a crack shot to deter them. Since I don’t know a thing about water pistols, my only retort would be: If you had more than one animal/man to ward off, unless you had a water pistol with a large capacity, how would you re-load? Carry a bottle of previously charged water?


    Comment by Iona — February 20, 2010 @ 1:58 am

    • The water pistol idea is interesting, in fact I used to do that when I was a kid riding my bike all over town as a solution to some unfriendly dogs. It worked quite well. I would have reservations though for using it as protection from bears though because of the unreliability that all water guns seem to have. I’ve thought about it a lot, and this season I will start carrying pepper spray as well as the pistol.

      Wolves are not a concern, but cougars certainly are. In Grizzly habitat, they are something one has to be prepared for, and I did have an issue with a black bear once when I’m certain that my pistol saved me from a big problem. I’m not sure how effective pepper spray would be on a cat because of they way they might approach.


      Comment by montucky — February 20, 2010 @ 10:48 am

      • What I’ve heard about pepper spray is that considering the wind drift, if you were to use it, it might disable you before it disabled the animal. Yes, cats will attack from behind without you even knowing they are there. From what I’ve seen in ads and children use, there are some pretty powerful water pistols on the market now. I don’t know about the reliability or the size or the handiness of them, however. A real gun, oft times, just the noise of the shot is enough to frighten off the attacker. My daughter carries pepper spray with her when she goes hiking on her photo journeys. In my humble opinion, that gives her a false sense of safety, when it could very well be the opposite.


        Comment by Iona — February 20, 2010 @ 11:00 am

        • I have no personal experience with pepper spray, and I guess I should be thankful for that. I’ve read many times that it is more effective than a fire arm for bear encounters. In fact, in an article in today’s papers, the superintendent of Glacier Park said he thinks it is much more effective than a pistol.

          It makes a lot of sense, knowing how much a bear depends on his sense of smell and how acute that sense is. Did you know that they actually navigate by it? Other animals (including humans) use landmarks and terrain features to get around, but bears go by the smell of certain places. Their dependence on smell is so strong that anything that disrupts it, such as pepper spray, can be devastating to them. It’s worth it to me to be covered both ways but still be careful to avoid encounters as much as possible and not have to become an “experienced expert” myself.


          Comment by montucky — February 20, 2010 @ 11:12 am

        • Ran out of “reply” to you! lol

          Knowing you are taking great precautions is comforting. I worry about both my daughters who go off by themselves in areas where there are wild animals. My eldest goes up to Crater Lake, OR. My youngest goes to a game reserve in E. WA. Besides animals, they could have an accident or something equally as disabling. Pepper spray does not help in those instances, unless it is to ward off animals while injured. Generally, cell phones do not have signals in these remote areas. A mother’s burden, I expect.


          Comment by Iona — February 20, 2010 @ 11:27 am

        • We always worry about our kids, Iona. My son is thirty now and I still get concerned about him when we go hunting and he heads for a mountain top across from me. That despite I know he is just as good in the back country as I am.


          Comment by montucky — February 20, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

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