By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
Again, this deals only marginally with guns, but it’s a spooky story, so I’ll pass it along. It concerns a friend of mine named James who operates a hunting/fishing lodge on the southern coast of Alaska, and kept his two English setters there to do some bird hunting.
If the dogs were not getting worked regularly, James would send them out with one of the guides, who rode a 4-wheeler and followed the pair to keep an eye on them. Except one day he didn’t, and noticed after a while that one of the setters had gone exploring, which is not a good idea for a setter in wolf country.
He ran the other dog back to the lodge and then went looking, and what he found made his blood run cold. There, following the tracks of the setter, were the saucer-sized pawprints of a wolf. It was obvious that the dog was aware of its danger and running for its life, but against a wolf it had no chance. When the guide looked up he saw the wolf—a 140-pound dun-colored animal, which was the pack’s alpha male—with the dead setter in his jaws, like a terrier with a rat.
He gunned the 4-wheeler and chased the wolf to the edge of a bog, and in his rage tried to follow, but the 4-wheeler started to sink, and it looked like the wolf would escape—but then it made a mistake. It leaped from the bog and ran down the beach. The guide wrenched the 4-wheeler free and followed at top speed, firing with a .44 magnum revolver as he went.
One of the bullets hit the wolf, which stopped, and the guide rammed him with the 4-wheeler, killing him. The guide brought the dead wolf back to the lodge, and he and James went to bury the setter. They dug a deep hole, laid the dog in it, filled it, and left, heads bowed in sorrow.
The next day the local hermit showed up at the lodge.
“You ought to bury that poor dog of yours,” he said to James, “it isn’t right to leave him lying there.”
James and the guide went to the grave and found it was empty. The wolves had dug up the setter, dragged it to the spot where the alpha male had killed it, and left it. As a warning? Who knows? And so the alpha male’s hide decorates the lodge’s walls, and the setter--there is one left--is not let out of sight. And the wolves are still there, waiting.