With our initial searches of the possible kill clusters of locations out of the way, we turned our attention to trying to find this year's den and the pups.
We had already been checking various areas for wolf tracks and had a sense of the general direction to look for the den. We check tracks in pretty standard places where experience has told us we had good chances of tracks showing up if the wolves had been through there. Thus today we headed out about 10 miles (16 km) to where a certain river flats run into Slidre fiord, along which we are headquartered on the north side. We had previously tracked the wolves to this point. Now we wanted to see whether many wolf tracks led across the river flats at the head of the fiord (the area impassable to us) like they did last year when the 2009 den was south of the fiord. The alternative was for tracks to lead to the north or northeast. In those directions there was much country to search, but to the north most of the ATV travel was very difficult. Thus we hoped the tracks would lead northeastward.
We had checked the area to the northeast in 2008, so we knew the travel was better. Also we knew that Brutus and pack had spent a great deal of time (around 20 to 30 locations) there last fall and had no doubt moved the pups to a rendezvous site there after they left the 2009 den south of the fiord.
Tracking was easy along the muddy flats, and we soon found both old and fresh wolf tracks leading toward the northeast rather than across the river at the head of the fiord. Once we determined the predominant direction of the tracks, we followed them until early morning to a point about 3 miles (5 km) from last year's rendezvous site. We also howled from a couple of points and searched the surroundings with binoculars. Usually wolves, even pups, within hearing distance will respond to howls, easily leading us to their location. However, no such luck tonight, so we headed home, planning the next day to travel farther northeastward toward last fall's rendezvous site. We looked forward to the next day with high hopes of finding the new den and pups.