Eaten Alive

The deer tried to escape many times, but with her hind legs ripped up, the wolf easily knocked her back down every time. Dr. David Mech, a wolf researcher from Minnesota, told me that wolves typically attack deer and other prey from the rear in an attempt to immobilize the hind legs. As I watched the struggling doe, I recalled a National Geographic video entitled "Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone" that shows wolves attacking and bringing down lots of elk and other big game in this manner. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
The wolf fed on the doe as she continued to bawl. Wolf researcher Dr. Durward Allen has recorded that wolves are not the quick, clean killers some people believe. Allen's research has demonstrated that wolves will typically kill by literally tearing their prey apart. When a pack is involved the killing process is often quick, but even then sometimes takes a while. All that's required is that the prey holds still enough for the eating process to begin. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
The deer tried to escape many times, but with her hind legs ripped up, the wolf easily knocked her back down every time. Dr. David Mech, a wolf researcher from Minnesota, told me that wolves typically attack deer and other prey from the rear in an attempt to immobilize the hind legs. As I watched the struggling doe, I recalled a National Geographic video entitled "Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone" that shows wolves attacking and bringing down lots of elk and other big game in this manner. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
Whenever the deer attempted to escape her tormentor the wolf would bite her on the face and neck, forcing her back down. The wolf never made any overt attempt to kill her. "Wolves will often pull down deer and other big game and begin feeding on them before they are dead. A wolf's first concern is his stomach. They do not have feelings like a human and they are not capable of caring if a prey animal suffers," says Dr. Mech. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
The wolf frequently broke off his attack to cautiously check his surroundings. The sound of the deer's bawling seemed to make the him nervous. The area contains a robust bear population and I figured he was afraid the doe's distress calls would attract one to the scene. Bears have been known to steal wolf kills and even kill wolves on rare occasions. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
Several times the wolf left the scene, once for more than an hour. "What you witnessed was rather typical fall wolf behavior. During the fall, deer are in peak physical condition and widespread, making them difficult prey. That's when wolves will typically hunt for deer alone to cover more ground, although they still share the kill with the pack. The wolf was probably going back to a rendezvous area to look for other members of the pack," Dr. Mech told me. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
During the encounter, I was able to sneak to a position directly across the river. My distance from the wolf was about 100 yards. The camera I used was a sub-compact Canon Powershot G6. This camera has a modest zoom lens, but the 7.1 megapixels camera set on the highest resolution did a fair job of capturing the action. I would have liked to have been able to get closer, but also realize that horning in on a wolf with his kill is not a prudent move. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
The wolf finally left and didn't return, leaving the deer still very much alive. My gut reaction was to put an end to the deer's suffering. I'm a realist though. By the time I happened upon the attack the deer's fate had already been sealed. Should the wolf catch my scent around the kill, it might have abandoned the deer for good, which would have been a senseless waste of the resource. Besides, had I interfered, I would have actually been breaking the law. It is illegal to harass a wolf. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
At one point I thought the doe had died. She lay in the water without moving for at least 10 minutes. Eventually, when the wolf did not come back through, she picked her head up and looked around. I'm not sure whether she was playing dead or had passed out. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
Eventually the deer righted herself and surveyed her wounds. I estimated that the wolf had eaten at least five pounds of flesh along with several pounds of hide and hair. Dr. John Vucetich, a Michigan Tech professor and wolf researcher who has been studying wolves for many years, says "Wolves will often feed on the prime parts first. Those would include the hindquarters and other large muscle groups. Next they go after the internal organs and then the bones. They also typically eat the hide and hair which helps them with their digestion of meat and bone." [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
The doe began to drag herself from the icy river water. She was unable to stand. Using her front legs, she inched her way toward the bank. Few people will ever witness the feeding mechanics of wolves. It is a gut wrenching spectacle. "I've seen wolves take prey down many times and it still always affects me emotionally every time I see it," Dr. Vucetich told me. The experience certainly affected me. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
As her suffering continued and she struggled toward the bank, I wondered how long it would take for her to succumb to her fate. I shared these photos with Brian Roell, wolf coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He was surprised that the deer had not died more quickly from such wounds. "Wolf prey typically dies from shock, which is a loss of blood," Roell says. From where I sat though, I saw surprisingly little bleeding. It all boils down to luck or chance as to when a wolf happens to bite into a major blood vessel that will cause enough blood loss. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
Eventually the deer struggled onto the bank where I watched her for quite some time, wondering if the wolf would return. I've witnessed multiple cases of wolves killing more than they can eat, which is referred to as surplus killing by wolf biologists. "Surplus killing is like a short circuit in the wolf and typically occurs when their prey is malnourished and deep snow conditions make them easy targets. Surplus killings rarely happen during the fall," Dr. Vucetich says. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
Eventually I decided to leave. I couldn't watch any more. When I rose from my hide, the deer spotted me and simply stared. I returned the next morning at daybreak armed with a long-lens camera. The deer was gone. Later I slipped into waders and forged the swift current, but the deer was nowhere to be seen. [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor
A photograph of the tracks that were at the attack site. A wolf biologist that I shared my photos with erroneously identified the predator as a coyote at first glance. The tracks were 3 1/2 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches long. The largest coyote tracks will measure perhaps 2 1/2 inches long. I later recovered the jaw-bone from the doe, which indicated she was at least 2 1/2 years old. In that region, adult does will typically weigh 130 to 150 pounds during the fall. Comparing the size of the deer to the wolf leaves little doubt as to the species of the predator, Canis lupus (Gray Wolf). [ ](http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/photogallery/article/0,20036,1274664_1574486,00.html&title=Eaten Alive: Wolf Predation Captured On Camera&bodytext=Michael Veine was hunting grouse in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and saw a wolf attacking a doe&topic=offbeat_news)Outdoor Life Online Editor

Michael Veine was hunting grouse when he stumbled upon a wolf attacking a doe.