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Jim "Stoney" Burke

of

Brantford, ON, CA

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A Death On The Tundra

by

Jim "Stoney" Burke

The big grey thudded through the light, billowing, snow maintaining a visual distance from the herd,his mate and her brother trailed behind and slightly to the left, keeping about forty yards from the rear-most animals

The two pups had taken up position on the far side of the migrating cariboo, they were almost full-grown now and would soon leave to strike out on their own; this was the last season they would hunt with the pack

The wolves had been shadowing this large migration for several weeks, noting the lame and the infirm animals who would eventually become stragglers from the main body. It was three days since their bellies were full from their last kill and they needed to feed to-night before the cold and the pace sapped the last of their strength,

The pack had marked the faltering progress of an old bull for several weeks, he'd received severe damage during the rutting season and had lost an eye, and sometimes he would veer off from the main herd in confusion, yet, he was still a formidible adversery

The alpha male had bided his time; he signalled his packmates to move in, the pack expertly cut the old warrior out from the rest of the herd as the leader swiftly took up position on the old bull's blind side, the leader measured the distance and silently leaped toward the exposed throat of his prey,

The leap was true, but instinct and this veteran of many battles, sensed the danger and dropped his head to meet the unseen challenge,

The big grey was thrown over the bull's shoulder, and landed heavily; his jaw broken, the pack, sensing the attack had failed, dropped back allowing the old bull to re-join the herd for yet another day

Whimpering quietly, each pack member nuzzled their fallen leader and assessed his injury, the grey exposed his throat to his mate and watched steadfastly as she approached...