July James aimed his powerful lens at the wolf cavorting in the water. Wolf reintroduction on Grand Mesa was going well, from what he could see. This guy was a huge, healthy male with a glossy gray and black coat. The wet tail waved furiously, the wolf jumping and playing in the cold creek, bouncing as if he was hunting in the snow.
God, that was adorable. July had come to the big flattop mountain in Western Colorado to photograph moose, which were also a successful reintroduction, but this wolf had caught his attention three days ago, and he’d been stalking the silly beast since then.
The only worrisome thing about the big gray was how solitary he seemed. Wolves ran in packs, so why was this one so alone? He didn’t seem to have any rabies symptoms, and God knew he looked healthy. Then again, he wasn’t wearing any kind of radio tag, so maybe he was a wandering male.
Still, the pictures were totally worth the extra time he’d have to spend camping so he could get his moose shots, too. There was something about this animal, something that drew him, made him want to fill a dozen memory cards with images.
He brought the camera around to another angle, his eye at the view instead of watching the digital screen. July froze then, because the wolf stopped its play and turned its head to stare at him, right at him, it seemed. Those golden eyes met his, steady and unafraid, and July felt a lot less like a professional photographer and more like a yummy chew toy for those few moments.
Backing off slowly, he packed his camera away, careful to keep one eye on the wolf. Then he moved carefully toward the main trail, which would have enough foot traffic during these summer months to deter the wolf from following him. His heart slammed against his ribcage. Damn, he was lucky this particular wolf wasn’t running with a pack and had only himself to protect and feed.
That had been entirely too close.