MOORE OUTDOORS: Following the wolf, Part I

Published 3:13 pm Saturday, September 30, 2017

It was a typical hot, humid day in Southeast Texas.

My little league baseball team, the Bucs, had its end-of-the-year party at Claiborne West Park, a beautiful 500-acre wooded property on the edge of Cow Bayou, which intersects the southern boundary of the Sabine River.

Our party was held at one of several bungalows near the park entrance, right on the edge of the woods. As we chowed down on hot dogs and chips, I looked over on the edge of the trees and saw a reddish-brown, long legged canid.

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“Dad, look at that!” I exclaimed.

“Is that a red wolf?”

“Yes it is.”

I can still see the animal as if I were looking at it and remember its thin summer coat, tall ears, a broad forehead, long snout and that it was panting from the soaring temperatures. It stayed in our line of vision for a few minutes and then disappeared into cover.

This was at the time when I wanted to be a zoologist to study the animals I had seen in books, on television, in zoos and now in living color.

A few months prior I read an article in Outdoor Life that stated red wolves were extinct in the wild and talked about how Orange County was one of the last places they were confirmed. It blew me away that such a big magazine would mention my home.

Far more profound however was the subject of the article walking in front of me.

This taught me that what I saw in the wild would sometimes conflict with official reports and that what textbooks say about wildlife is not always accurate.

That fall we got on a deer lease near Fannett, and on our first trip to the property, we saw a very large wolf cross the road in front of us.

It was about the size of a German shepherd, had a reddish-brown coat that was thick and bushy, in great contrast to the one we saw a few months earlier in the heat of summer. If had been interested in wolves and a zoology career before, it just got kicked into overdrive.

My next encounter occurred on the same property as I accompanied Dad on a late season hunting trip that same year. It was pitch black and extremely cold as my father and I entered the woods.

I just turned 10 as we made the half-mile trek from a winding, narrow asphalt country onto a narrow dirt road to his stand.

Even though it was 5:30 a.m., which was way earlier than my normal Saturday wake-up time, I could not have been more excited. Images of monster whitetail bucks raced through my head, as this was one of my very first deer hunts.

Suddenly, the haunting howling of wolves shattered the early morning silence. An entire pack sounded off in all of their mournful glory. And they were close.

Real close.

Looking back I realize the pack was probably less than 100 yards from us in the dense, swampy thicket. These were not the high-pitched, frantic yips of coyote but the long, deep howl of wolves.

Dad stopped and asked if I was scared and I was but fascination had set in.

The two previous sightings had piqued my curiosity about wolves, but this took things to a whole new level. I was way too curious to leave the woods.

We never did see a deer (or wolf) that day, but I will remember it forever because of those howls.

In the next installment we will encounter more wolves and see how those howls helped spark a career as wildlife journalist.

To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at