The Hunt

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2003

By Will Stroud, Illustrated by Ksenia Vlasov
the hunt moose and two wolves

With a glance that bordered on premonition, he saw it

Buck felt the wind blow through his shaggy hair as he pounded his way across the frozen forest, his whole pack following half a minute behind. The chase had lasted three days, three long days of running at top pace, his nose continually dipping toward the ground, sniffing for any twist or turn his prey might make. He had been on many hunts but never one this lengthy and tedious. But then again his prey wasn’t what it normally was. He wasn’t chasing humans, who were slow on foot and only dangerous when a club or gun was within reach. No, he was tracking something unique, something not normally seen in the sprawling forestland of the Alaskan wilderness. This type of animal was typically killed by predators at a young age, an age when its brawling hooves were not quite the works of death and destruction that they would later become, and those bloodcurdling antlers were not so large and sharp as they would grow to be. He could feel his prey getting closer, could feel it in the earth; the very ground he stood on was informing him. He understood it; he took its knowledge to be true, as true as the roaring wind or the vast bottomless sea. His prey must be resting. He himself had started to feel a pang of delicate soreness every time a paw hit the ground. Surely his quarry could feel it too. Buck was pondering this when he passed over a large hill. With a glance that bordered on premonition, he saw it. Proudly holding its ground on a patch of trampled and dirty snow waited the moose. Buck waited a few seconds for the rest of his pack to catch up before he decided to press on a little further toward the magnificent beast. It kicked up snow, dirt and even little bits of wood as the circle of wolves grew ever more tight and threatening. Buck was the first to pull up and try to make a go at the moose; he would have it no other way. As he made his approach he growled in a low tone so as to warn that he was ready to attack. Just as he poised himself to do so, his brother wolf and his younger sibling jumped in and began to rip at the strapping old moose’s flanks as if their attack had been choreographed. The moose quickly bucked them off his sides, his legs pistoning up and down in the air. As though it was caught in a sudden gale, the moose shivered and then charged straight at Buck. He artfully moved to the side, narrowly avoiding a certain death by the moose’s sharp, shredding antlers. Buck then took the one millisecond in which the moose paused, vulnerable to attack, to jump straight for its throat. Knowing the time had come, the whole pack dove upon the rampaging moose. Buck was slung back and forth on the moose’s neck like the pendulum on a metronome, but held on for fear of his own life, and for want of his opposition’s. The moose took a long time to die, but he did. And triumphantly, Buck stood over his kill, king of the forest for the time being.

the hunt will stroud

Will Stroud, 13
Sacramento, California

the hunt ksenia vlasov

Ksenia Vlasov, 12
Katonah, New York

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