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Photos: Whitetail Goes Head-to-Head with Wolf in River

John Way from Cornell, Michigan was on his way to cut some firewood last month when he spotted an 8-point whitetail buck standing in the Escanaba River. Living within view of the river, he and his wife, Jodi, routinely see deer crossing the water, but this buck was acting differently than those they normally see. Thinking it might be hurt, he used his cell phone to call Jodi to ask her to come and photograph the buck. She had gotten a 70-300mm zoom lens for her Canon Rebel camera a week and a half earlier and John figured this would be a good photo op. He was right. Jodi was able to photograph an interaction between a wolf and whitetail that occurs routinely in the outdoors, but is seldom seen by people. All Photos By: Jodi Way
After Jodi arrived on the scene with her camera, a young gray wolf appeared. The buck had apparently sought refuge from the wolf in the river (Michigan DNR confirmed that this is a wolf and not a coyote).
As the wolf circled the whitetail, "I told Jodi to keep shooting no matter what happens," John said.
"We were in a perfect hiding spot on the bank of the river," John continued. "There was high grass and trees that provided cover and the wind was blowing in our face, so there was no way the wolf was going to smell us. The wolf gradually worked his way closer to the buck."
Then the wolf started heading straight for the deer.
The buck raised his tail in alarm as the wolf crept closer.
When the wolf got to a certain point, it started running and the buck bolted in response. Notice the double white throat patches on this buck's neck in this image.
As luck would have it, the chase came toward John and Jodi.
After running so far, the buck stopped and so did the wolf.
Then the wolf started closing the distance on the buck again.
Tired of being chased, the buck turned the tables on the wolf and charged the predator.
The wolf ran as hard as it could to stay ahead of the charging buck.
Another faceoff took place when the wolf stopped running.
When the wolf tried to close the distance between the two once more…
The buck resumed his role as the aggressor.
After the wolf retreated to a safe distance, the buck stopped again and the wolf took advantage of the lull to shake water from its coat.
And when the wolf made another attempt to get closer, the buck put up another show of force.
Here the buck makes another full-blown charge at the wolf.
The wolf then retreated. At one point, the defeated predator climbed on this rock and looked back at the deer. Many hunters can take solace from these photos confirming that deer don't always come out losers in encounters with wolves.
As the unsuccessful wolf waded toward shore, it heard the shutter of Jodi's camera and looked toward the sound.
The wolf was within 20 yards of the couple when it left the river. After the wolf was gone Jodi asked, "Why did you let it get so close to us?" Both Jodi and John are avid deer hunters but they had never seen such an encounter before. Jodi bagged a 3 ½-year-old 8-point with her bow this October.

Most hunters think of wolves as killing machines and whitetails as their defenseless prey. But in this photo series, a young buck shows us that’s not always the case.