I was the runt of the litter and therefore should not have survived my youth to be here today with the pack of about a dozen others including my five siblings. I was nurtured like the rest and survived my self imposed weakness. I chose to face adversity from an early age and chose to struggle from behind to avoid it later in life. I was pushed out when feeding time came but managed to get enough of my mother’s milk to survive until I was old and strong enough to feed on solids. As I grew I grew fast and the struggles ceased when I grew big enough to fight for my scraps after the adults came back from hunting.
We have been fortunate due to a booming spring where food, water and shelter have been made freely available to me and my litter mates. The spring rain had been bountiful and plants flourished, thus the herbivores that we rely on flourished with them. The deer that skulk through the forested areas are used to being hunted by both man and another apex predator, us wolves. Not being old enough to hunt yet, my siblings and I stayed behind with the Omegas to wrestle and sort out or future order in the pack. I was getting pretty good at the wrestling and often pinned my two brothers during the games. Getting hungry I anticipated the return of a successful hunt.
A chunk of venison sure goes along way in adding muscle for my time to hunt, tastes better then rabbit shrew, chipmunk, or squirrel and one carcass can be picked clean by our pack for days of feeding. When we hunt deer, the pack fans out through the trails of the forest looking for signs of a recent passing. Sparsely there, we may find a light track indented into a mud patch, under a leaf, or under a clump of moss that the deer has tread on. We may find scat that tells us how long ago the deer has passed, but not in which direction of travel it was going. Other signs are correlated with these to get the full picture of where deer feed, what they eat, where they water, and where they sleep.
When one of us is on the trail of a deer and have a strong track, we howl for the pack’s attention and the hunt begins to heat up as the adults descend on the prey from possibly all sides. When cornered the prey will defend itself with sharp spear-like antlers and effective bursts of charging at the nearby wolves. Some kick with their sharpened hooves and have been known to leave scars on the bodies of incautious or unlucky wolves who have gotten to close. Playing the numbers game, or waiting for exhaustion to overcome the prey, the pack shall feast on the fresh kill, revelling in the iron rich blood that provides part of the nourishment.
Feeding is an act all in itself as the alpha male and alpha female get the choice bits first, the stomach, the liver, the heart. Then comes the rest of the pack in their ranking’s hierarchy till the rest have been fed. None are left out of this process, not even those who are absent from the kill site like the omega wolves and the cubs they care for. The adults will gorge and the later regurgitate for them to have their share when they return to the den site. Leaving the carcass behind is not uncommon but while guarded not a single scavenger should touch it till the wolves are through. Not a raven nor a crow can stay near as long as the guards are doing their duty well while the adults commute to and from the den.
Back at the den the yip of pups can be heard as the adults are spotted, some still covered in fresh blood. The full adults are greeted by the licking and biting of their muzzles that will eventually prompt the regurgitation of the cubs’ next meal. The Omegas, always glad to see the younger adults, will also take part in the feast, as will any sick or injured wolves that could not make the hunt. I took my share while snarling at the other pups, warning them that I meant business. I was not fooling around and would fight to defend my right to eat within the pack’s newly developing social order brought about from our play…The games we shared would lead to our roles within the pack at a later age.
I showed quickly that I was cunning and brave. I may have been born smallish but soon developed into a larger package, all-in-one, a leader, a social engineer, and a promoter of peace within the organizational structure of the other pups. I appeared to dominate the other pups and was apparently the favourite to become the next alpha when the time came. When I reached maturity the following spring I decided to leave in search of a mate. I did not want to wait for my father to become sick or too old to fend off others leaving me to fight for him.