Camp Reads: Wolf Edition

The wolf was my favorite animal growing up. I was obsessed with them as a kid, and frankly as a teenager. I collected little wolf statues, had posters of wolves and begged my dad to make a donation to the Nature Conservancy so I could ‘adopt’ a wolf and get a stuffed animal. When my dad and I weren’t watching baseball or football we were watching nature shows. My favorites were always the ones about the far north: the taiga, the cold, the moose, bear and the wolf. Something about the wolves intrigued me. They are smart, opportunistic, loyal yet independent, and often misunderstood. This edition of camp reads includes some of my favorite books of all time. I hope they will become some of your favorites as well.

Wolves in the Land of Salmon

Wolves in the Land of Salmon by David Moskowitz
Moskowitz weaves his stories as a wildlife tracker with recent scientific studies to tell the fascinating story of the wolves of the Pacific Northwest. The book takes you on a tour of the current wolf packs in the NW and examines the historic populations in the Olympics and western Oregon. Moskowitz explores the intricate and sometimes contentious connections these wolves have now and had in the past with the local fauna and people. Published in 2013, this book has everything you want to know about the history and current state of wolves in the NW. You can follow Moskowitz’s travels on his blog.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Car Camp
This large format hardback book with a stunning cover is jam packed with Moskowitz’s beautiful photography. Take this with you to read while car camping in the Methow Valley or Teanaway and just maybe you’ll be lucky enough to hear the howls of the hopefully expanding packs repopulating the Cascades.

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A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans
This is the remarkable true story of a wolf and it’s relationship with a community in Alaska. The residents of Juneau were at first startled to see a large black wolf frequenting their favorite recreational area. But over time this friendly wild animal began to interact with the nearby people and dogs, playfully following them as they cross country skied and cooperating with local photographers. Of course, a situation that involves interaction between people and wild animals cannot be without controversy. Nick Jans chronicles the life of Romeo as he observed it from his back yard and the reactions, good and bad, of the residents and authorities, bringing to light tough questions about conservation and living with predators.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
The beautiful paperback version of this book can be tucked away in your backpack for sneaking in some quick reads on the trail.

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Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
This might be my favorite book of all time, or at least in my top five. All of the prolific Canadian author’s stories are a joy to read, but this is his best. He tells of his time in the Canadian Wildlife Service assigned to live out a summer in the frozen Arctic to study wolves and find out why they were killing so many caribou. For a long time wolves had been perceived as opportunistic hunters, killing weaker species for fun.  But during his time in the wild, Mowat finds a different story completely and even comes to develop a deep affection for the wolf pack he is observing. This classic tale speaks to the true nature of man versus wild. A quote from the book sums it up well, “we have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be — the mythological epitome of a savage, ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than the reflected image of ourself.”

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This small paperback is best devoured on a journey of your own. It will make you laugh and will certainly brighten your day. It’s one of those books that after finishing the last sentence you will let out a sigh and give it a little hug.

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The Call of the Wild & White Fang by Jack London
A list of books about wolves would not be complete without these two classics. Published in 1903 and 1906 respectively, London drew on his experience in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s to write these wildly popular books. The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck, a domestic dog that was kidnapped from his loving home in California and taken to the Yukon to be a sled dog in harrowing and sometimes violent conditions. Conversely, White Fang, is about a wild wolf-dog that is found and brought up as a domesticated sled dog. Both of these books explore the relationships between man and nature, and demonstrates humanity’s tendencies toward violence and, contrarily, peace.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
I especially love the cover on this version of the paperback with its simple portrayal of the two wolf dogs. Find a version that you love and add these classics to your collection. This book makes a excellent travel companion for younger explorers as well.

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Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
This was one of my very favorite books when I was a kid. It’s the story of a 13-year-old Yupik girl in Northern Alaska. She grew up hunting with her father and learning the ways of the land. But when her father disappears and she is shipped off to marry an unkind man, she decides to run away. She hunts small game and makes camp along the way, but when it becomes tougher to find food she befriends a pack of wolves. She finds a way to communicate her hunger with the wolves and they bring her food. Jean Craighead George wrote the book in 1972 after visiting Barrow, Alaska with her son. She went to the far north town as a journalist to visit scientists studying wolves. She saw the way the native people interacted and communicated with the animals and was intrigued. When they saw a curious young girl alone on the tundra, her son wondered aloud what the young girl was doing out there all alone, thus providing the basis of this wonderful story. George wrote two sequels to this book in the 1990’s. Those are Julie and Julie’s Wolf Pack.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Pack this slim novel into your young son or daughter’s pack to make an overnight adventure even more adventurous.

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Shadow Mountain by Renee Askins
This is the beautifully written memoir of a women who’s mission was to bring wolves back to the American wilderness. As part of her undergraduate research in the 1980’s Askins raised a wolf pup in captivity and named her Natasha. After creating a bond with this wolf and studying others in captive conditions she recognized their unhappiness with this lifestyle. She vowed to Natasha that she would bring wolves back to Yellowstone National Park and spent many long years of hard work fighting for her cause. She took on politicians, ranchers and endured death threats, disappointment and meager wages to create the Wolf Fund. This heartwarming story of persistence and dedication to these intriguing animals will certainly inspire you.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
The lovely prose of this memoir will keep you turning the pages, take this small paperback with you for maximum sentence intake.

See Also: 3 Among the Wolves by Helen Thayer

2 Replies to “Camp Reads: Wolf Edition”

  1. wow, you brought back memories for me, of reading julie of the wolves to my daughter. we loved that book, read it many times and even listened to it on tape on long drives. thanks for reminding me of that time and for a great list of books!

  2. Love wolves too. Back in the early 1990s before wolves were confirmed to have returned to Oregon and Washington, I was involved in some wolf surveys up on Table Mountain above Ellensburg. A group of us from a spin0ff conservation group called the Eastside Forest Task Force worked under the direction of the Cle Elum Ranger District, got training in wolf howling protocol, etc. It was a magical six summer weekends out there. None of us got any responses, but I learned a lot more about wolves.. I wrote a story about the experience for The Mountaineers monthly magazine, but that was before the Internet was widely used and I can’t find it online. Impressive list of book reviews!

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