Joanne Barnaby was collecting wild mushrooms with a friend in the North West Territories of Canada on June 10, when they separated on their morel-picking paths. On her way back to the truck, she heard a growl and turned to see a lone wolf growling and baring its teeth.
Barnaby was accompanied by her dog, Joey, who attempted to rush the wolf. The wolf did not back down. Barnaby described the terrifying experience to CBC News:
The wolf started pacing back and forth in the direction of the truck. Barnaby says it was forcing her to go farther east, away from the highway.
“It took me a while to realize that he knew what he was doing. He was trying to wear me down. He was trying to separate Joey and I,” she says.
“I think he was weak. He didn’t look healthy. He looked old to me ... I don’t think he wanted to take us both on.”
What followed was a 12-hour hunt. The wolf continued to pursue Barnaby and Joey, as they were pushed farther from her truck. “He was dogged. He was just determined,” Barnaby says. “I was in trouble.”
In addition to facing-off with a wolf, Barnaby was struggling with the practicalities of being exposed in the wilderness. She was being bitten ferociously by mosquitoes, and said she felt like she was going crazy from the itch. She also only had a beer with her, no food, and was quickly tiring.
At about 4:30 in the morning, over the buzz of mosquitoes, Barnaby heard what she thought was the sound of a bear. She listened more intently and heard a cub responding in the distance. Now Barnaby attempted to herd the wolf a specific direction:
“I realized that there was a chance that the mother bear would tackle the wolf if she felt that the wolf was a threat,” Barnaby explains.
“So I made the choice of walking towards the cub.”
It worked. After walking about 20 minutes, Barnaby’s dangerous plan paid off.
“I heard this big crashing behind me and realized that the mama bear had attacked the wolf, or maybe the other way around, I don’t know, but they were fighting and I could hear the wolf yelping and I could hear the mama bear growling and I could hear all this crashing and I just took off!”
Barnaby and Joey the dog found a lake to drink from, but at this point they were miles from her truck. They drank water, and then Barnaby started praying for the mosquitoes not to drive her insane so she could make it out of the woods and see her family again. She says it energized her so she could keep going, adding, “All night I had been making decisions of sorts, but this one was a decision to live and it was really powerful.”
Barnaby reached her car by Saturday morning, finding rescue vehicles and friends, who were reasonably worried about her. Barnaby recommends bringing a gun to the Canadian woods if you’re mushroom picking, as bears are unreliable weaponry.
Image via Flickr.