Elha, the lone she-wolf, and Bahr, the lone bachelor wolf, continued to roam and patrol the forest in company. Sometimes the two-wolf grouping (for it could hardly be called a pack) would be led by Elha and sometimes Bahr would take the lead. Mostly, the two wolves would roam freely without giving much thought to their direction of travel but inevitably the direction of both wolves would end up being roughly the same. In this way, the two wolves moved in company together.
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This should be no surprise, given the common motivations that would dictate the actions of a wolf. Wolves are successful carnivores and hunters that live according to a range of survival strategies and will adapt to conditions prevailing at the time. So, for instance, if a change of wind direction brought with it the scent or sounds of a prey herd in the distance, each wolf would, independently of the other, head off in that direction.
If the scent of a pack’s boundary marker was picked up by one of the two wolves, it was likely to be picked up by the other one. Each wolf, anxious to avoid the danger of encroaching on an established pack’s territory, would naturally head away. For although wolves could be fearsome hunters, they were also naturally cautious creatures.
When following herd animals, be they deer or elk or any other beast that found safety in numbers, wolves will always track their prey from a distance, never approaching close enough to be in danger. For although wolves represented a great danger to their prey, the would-be victims of the hunt have their own defenses, which are very effective and a great danger to the wolf, in its turn. Deer have sharp antlers that can gore, and equally sharp hooves that can kick an unwary wolf, with sometimes catastrophic effect. At the very least, these weapons can keep a wolf at a safe distance from vulnerable flesh.
Rather than approach its prey too close, wolves will stalk a herd from a safe distance in the hope of tiring an animal that is weaker than its herd mates to the point where it falls behind the other animals and can then be picked off. In this way, Bahr and Elha might both be following a herd from a distance without any need to communicate or co-ordinate their actions. Each wolf would follow its own instincts and, independently, be following the same herd in the same direction at the same time, in the hope of picking up such a straggler.
Not every day would this approach provide a kill. Most attempts to secure a kill in this way ended in the pursuer tiring before the pursued, so that the wolves would break off the pursuit without success, saving their energies for another opportunity to follow a herd, ready to pounce on an unwary older, younger, or weaker animal. In this way it would also follow that, when Elha and Bahr found themselves pursuing the same herd at the same time they would also break off the pursuit at the same time. They would then fall back into a patrolling gait, moving ever onward.
When they were not in active pursuit of prey, they were each scanning the scents, sounds and visual information presented to them. If moving in the same general direction, they were able to search a territory more effectively in company than they would have been able to do separately. They had no plan as to what they would do when they detected a scent trail or distant sounds that indicated food. That could wait until the opportunity had arisen.
Later that night, when Elha picked up a faint hint of carrion, she looked back at Bahr to see if he too had noticed it. She was ever conscious of the need to be first to discover any source of food and to have the opportunity to make the most of it before the other wolf could stake a claim. For although acting together, they were still individual wolves, each with a need to survive in an unforgiving forest. Elha need not have worried. Bahr had picked up his own scent trail and started to follow it in one direction, as Elha headed off in another, each still conscious of the proximity of the other wolf, invoking their other great sense – their hearing – to keep track of the other’s movements.
As Elha followed the scent of dead meat, she paid no further attention to Bahr, who continued to follow his own scent trail. It wasn’t long before Elha was able to unearth the body of a small mammal which she devoured in moments. A welcome, if frugal, source of nourishment. Bahr, for his own part, found nothing to eat. Finding the sound of his companion (if such she was) diminishing into the distance, he turned back and headed in her direction, picking up the pace to be sure of overtaking her. He paid no attention to any carrion scent trail at this point.
Elha pressed on ahead, giving no thought to the wolf following her. It was clear to her that Bahr did not represent a danger and, as he meant nothing else, she could forget about him entirely. As there was no need to concern herself with the oafish wolf behind, Elha thought she had caught a faint whiff of blood in the oncoming breeze. Could it have been an injured animal? Not wanting to lose the opportunity of a further source of food, she increased her pace to a canter, raising her head, nostrils flared, ears erect, scanning the soundscape ahead. Bahr, hearing the sound of Elha’s paws brush through the undergrown, raised his own head and was about to gallop off after her when he thought he could detect a familiar smell close to the ground. Ignoring Elha’s movements now, he stopped to investigate.
Yes, there it was without a doubt. It was wolf that he could smell, and it was not the shiha.
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From chapter 7
The wolf was almost upon him before Bahr could react.
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Run with the Pack was published by Park Langley Editions in 2022. I will continue to post each chapter in turn here, as long as there is interest from readers. Please comment and/or like if you wish to read the next chapter.
Continue to read Run with the Pack: Chapter by Chapter
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About the Creator
Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.