It's been a long six years since I traveled to the Delaware Water Gap area and see the great wolves of Lakota. During my first visit the captivating Dan Bacon passionately showed off his Gray Wolves to us allowing some great photography. If there ever was a person that I could sit around a camp fire all night and listen to his stories it is Dan.
Dan now 82 has retired and I was a little apprehensive as to what changes had been made and if Jim Stein and his wife had that same great passion as Dan Bacon had. Another concern I had was the weather and I turned into what my wife calls me "the family weather man" and daily, ok hourly, checked the weather forecast for the week prior to trip.
At 4 AM on Sunday my son Sean and I left for Columbia NJ where we would meet fellow photographer Debbie Roma and her guest Beth Herrick. Weather when we arrived was spectacular and cool and my apprehension was soon gone as I saw some old wolf friends from 6 years ago. Yes they are a bit older but so am I. My old friend and favorite Lakota wolf still has that great Timber Wolf look.
After a short trail of paperwork we headed up to the preserve and started one fabulous morning of photography.
We started first with gray wolves that gave us some nice early morning shots as they moved around through trees and fallen logs. There all white winter outer coats made them look almost like Arctic wolves until the moved and the grey/black under coat showed.
They were beautiful healthy animals, reminding you of that dog you have at home.
Although limited there was some interaction between animals but none of the interaction shown by pack wolves in the wild.
We then moved to the top of that first impoundment where a little ice covered pond waited. It didn't take long before they had broken the thin ice and began walking in the cold water.
They didn't seem at all bothered by the cold water and after a short wait got some nice water drop and reflection shots. The very large enclosures are surrounded by tall double fences. As part of the package we were doing we were allowed between the 2 fences and could shoot through many rectangular openings in the fence. These openings are covered with hinged fence so you can shoot the wolves with no obstructions.
The Arctic wolves were next, this sub species of the gray wolf uses it's almost all white winter coloring as camouflage. They put on a great howling show for us and as they began there howl, other groups of wolves in the preserve began to join in. What a show it turned into.
Although both of my trips have been in February I have not yet lucked out to have snow on the ground to shoot this sub species. Well there is always the next time I come donw here.
It is a common misconception that black wolves are a separate sub species of the Gray Wolf, this is not correct. The black coloration in Gray Wolves can be seen in any of the subspecies of Gray Wolf. A black wolf is a melanistic color variant of the Gray Wolf.
I have seen a pack of wild wolves in Yellowstone National Park. The Drued pack if I remember correctly that had a 50/50 coloration split of Gray and Black. The year old black pups were beautiful animals and a joy to photograph.
The last group of wolves we photographed was the sub species commonly called Timber Wolves.
This sub species have a distinctive darker coloration to their fur and have the greatest eyes of all the sub species. They have what most people who view my photos the "LOOK" of a wolf.
When they stare at you those eyes look like they can look right thru you. Beautiful but almost scary!
Well at the end of the morning myself, Debbie, and Sean all had a great time and cards full of great images to take home.
Lakota is a treat for both professional photographers looking to balance out a portfolio and for the person who just has a love of these majestic animals. Want to see more follow this link to more photos from Lakota.
Next time you’re in the area make a reservation for a photographer session or a wolf walk. You will have a great time. Please visit Lakota Wolf on the web.