May 22, 2011

Notes From Joe: Making Tracks

Wolverines are full time residents of the high arctic and are real loners.  They travel and hunt alone, covering large territories.  Their main diet is ptarmigan in winter, but just like all predators they are opportunists and will kill dall sheep if they are around.  They’re also scavengers and they like to get an easy meal once in awhile when the wolves make a kill.  The tracks in the photo below are wolf tracks with a wolverine’s track over them.

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This photo shows a wolf trail on the high snow drift with multiple fox, wolverine and wolf tracks.

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Here’s a typical wolf and wolverine trail that leads to the top of the mountains where they lay and watch for game in the valleys.

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This wolf trail forks off, one going to the top of the mountain and the other goes through a mountain pass to another valley.  The arctic is lean country in the winter and the wolf packs are very small and they have to cover a very large territory.

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A lone wolverine track b-lining straight for a willow patch to hunt for ptarmigan.

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Wolves have a tough time in deep snow as do other animals so they always hunt where the snow is relatively firm on the edges of snow drifts.

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A wolverine trail alongside my ski trail gives a perspective of the large sizes of these animals.

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Signs of a moose in peril.  The moose tracks below show the animal sinking deep into the snow, searching for relief in shallower snow.  This particular moose was killed by a pack of three wolves.

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The photo below is a wolverine den, probably belonging to a female getting ready for her upcoming newborns.

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These tracks are from a wolverine searching for ptarmigan.

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And what the heck, a wolverine has to have a chance to play too.  Here you can see where the wolverine slid down the slope.

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This wolverine track leads high upon the mountain peaks.  He was probably revisiting an old sheep kill sight and or hunting sheep.

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Ptarmigan tracks intertwined with a wolverine tracks.

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And these are my track makers…a pair of 6 foot long, custom built Iverson’s Snowshoes.  They are a real lifesaver in deep snow.  I’d never be able to explore the mountains without them.

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  • Carolyn Schlick

    Great photos and tracks, reading them like a book. Post a wolverine photo if you ever get a good one please. Am I correct in tinking Id much rather encounter a wolf then a wolverine?


  • Rebecca Hartley

    Have you written a “diary” of your winter expedition? I’d would really like to read your account of the daily happenings. Your photos are wonderful

    • Thanks Rebecca,

      Yes, I’ll have a book published this fall or winter. I can’t wait to share the stories!!
      Thanks again and I’m glad you enjoy the photos.

  • Kit Harland

    Thanks for taking us places most of us an only dream about!

    • Hi Kit,
      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoy the photos. The arctic is amazing country!!