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I love that wolves wander freely in the wilder places of Wisconsin. Their secret lives are hidden to most, except to those that care to study, collar and count them. I come only to hear the familiar night voices of the Wedges Creek Pack.

We trespass and intrude into their territory to gently set our camp. We have bushwacked and explored this area for years and know it well. A trail camera is carefully placed not far from camp on an ancient deer trail that threads its way through what we have always called the ditchbank swamp.

It's late and the fire burns down low to thick rolling red-orange-gold-yellow-blue embers. I sit close by the fire with my huddle of dogs.

The silence is broken by a lone strong voice that lifts nearby to call the chorus. That first deeply thrown low note ascends to a wildly high, long held upward crescendo that drifts slowly downward, echoing deeply back to earth. Other willing voices join, each in separate note, tone and pitch repeating the ancient answer to the call. Exuberant young voices mix timidly at first with yips and broken howls. Then all voices fade back into black silence.

Oh, joy! What a chill to the spine. I wish to reach for my husband's warm hand for a comforting squeeze, but he's soundly asleep in the tent. I firmly douse the fire and join him. It's been a good day.

Our camera has caught their silent passage. In the left upper corner of this captured moment, watch the stealthy shadows of the others waiting to safely cross an open area.  


Another hidden camera finds a crowned whitetail king foraging the forest.

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Is this a brutish rutting challenge to the camera's intrusive small flash?

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A doe and her fawn wander the night to peacefully browse and nibble.

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We catch them in a delightful dominance dance that all deer do within close maternal families.

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Ouch. Some young bucks are braver than their fork-horns can handle. I wish him well in battle next year or after.

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New trouble?

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A smaller spike buck enters this unbalanced equation. Cute won't work here and...

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he's easily driven off with a flick of the tail and flash of antler.

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A new doe appears amid the ruckous. It's rut...so the pictures stop here.

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Another camera catches an alert doe watching in the soft morning light of shrouded fog.

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Sometimes tongues are just funny.

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Sweet faces are seldom caught framed in sculptured wood and fern frond.

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What wild abstract of smeared and vivid black and white flash of camera is this?

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Oh. It's just a lazy waddle of porcupine needles brushing past the lens accidentally. That was interesting.

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A burly black bear passes by to sniff with curiousity.

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He wears a classy white bow tie on his chest for this late evening occasion.

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He glares once at the flashing light of the old camera...

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and throws a heavy right forepaw punch towards the offender.

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He deftly lands a direct hit with outstretched paw and claw.
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KA POW!

That's the last photo this shattered broken camera ever saw.

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It was the perfect ending to the perfect camping trip into the wilds of Wisconsin.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and DKOMA.

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