'What Big Ears You Have'

TOOL: Scoped Rifle RANGE: 111 yards WIND: 5 mph, in your face

I’ve been sitting in this pop-up ground blind for so many afternoons I’ve lost track of the date. Maybe the brutally cold northern Minnesota temps have started to affect my brain.

What I know for sure is I just finished a paragraph of a Vince Flynn book and raised my eyes for the 10 millionth time to glance at the bait site shooting lane. Or maybe I dozed off and was awakened by a violent head bob? Whichever the case, instead of seeing a pure-white wasteland out the window, I’m staring into the eyes of a wolf. And not just any wolf, but a black beast that looks . . .well, almost creepy . . . like it’s not of this world.

Even though I brushed in this blind with dead logs and tamarack branches weeks ago, Creep Dog has me pegged. Maybe it heard me turn the page of my book? “The better to hear you with, my dear.” Sound seems to carry farther over frozen tundra, but I simply can’t believe it heard a page flip from 100-plus yards. Does it smell me? Possibly. But in all honesty, I think it’s honing in on my anxiety.

I raise my hands toward my rifle, which is balancing on a tripod and aimed at the bait, but before I can sneak my eye up to the scope the wolf disappears.

As my breathing slows, I realize my fingers and toes—and brain—are numb. I blew it. And I know the chances of this wolf returning this day, or any day, are exactly zero.


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