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Forum nameMain Community Discussion Board
Topic subjectFighting off wolves
Topic URLhttp://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=17&topic_id=90899
90899, Fighting off wolves
Posted by Weird Jim, Wed May-23-12 03:03 PM
Leaving off the use of firearms, what would be the best weapon to fight off a pack of ravenous wolves? (Of course, for dramatic reasons any other kind would not suit.) I'm thinking a nice, bulbous-headed club. A bow and arrow requires accuracy and a sword could wound but not disable. A hefty Scimitar might get stuck in a skull.

Then there is the size of the pack to consider. And I have heard that a pack of 'very' hungry wolves will turn to eat one of their own if it's killed. It's said they'd do that before going after the original prey.

What size is the average pack of wolves, anyway?

I'm thinking of some wolves for a story, and one of Saki's storied mentioned a group of four of them.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960
90901, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Justinvs, Wed May-23-12 11:15 PM
I'd rather have a spear than a club. You would be better off poking at the wolves and keeping them at a distance than exposing yourself as you swung a club.

Average pack size can go anywhere from three or four up to around twenty, though I doubt you would be attacked by more than five or six at a time. And I really doubt they would break off an attack to go after each other, though interpack fighting can definitely happen.

Wolves. I hates 'em!

90902, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by CatrinP, Thu May-24-12 01:45 AM
A club would do some damge, but to kill or minimum knock unconscious your aim woud have to be to the head, which of course is the most dangerous part of the wolf. And your would have to

I would prefer something longer and sharper; sword for its double edge, spear for the length, an axe, or a halberd. the length to keep the danger end of the wolf from me and something sharp to wound, because however deep a wound is eventually that wound will weaken the animal and the more wounds you can inflict the faster it will weaken.

But the best weapon in the world and the ability to weld it effectively won't help if you are not in good terrain. I would prefer to be somewhere where I was protected on three sides.

Wolves are the masters of the hunt. They work together, wearing down their prey until on can go in for the attack. Even one wolf would be capable of bringing down an armed human, two would certainly be capable.

I'll have a look through my wolf research to see if I have anything that might help, but personally I wouldn't want to be pitted against a wolf no matter what weapons I had.
90903, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by David Bridger, Thu May-24-12 04:33 AM
If one was available I'd use a flaming torch to keep them back.
90904, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Chaos, Thu May-24-12 12:41 PM
>If one was available I'd use a flaming
>torch to keep them back.

Better yet, two torches, one in each hand. And preferably the torches are sturdy enough to double as flaming clubs if needed.

And I would try to make sure I am with my back against a large tree, or a rock too tall for the wolves to climb on top of.

...or we apply the "middle management" solution, which consists of taking along someone who is more out of shape than you are.

"I donīt have to run faster than the wolves - I only have to run faster than you."
90905, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by bonniers, Thu May-24-12 12:59 PM
I second David's suggestion. Fire in any form.
90907, I third David
Posted by MarFisk, Thu May-24-12 07:43 PM
I'd set a ring of fires around me with a lot of wood in the middle.

And I don't think it's wolves who turn on their own. There's a lot of mythology out there about wolves, propaganda to turn people against them. Not that they aren't a real problem for the ranchers (Justin :)), but not as much for humans. They're hungry, and cattle/sheep are natural prey. Humans? Not so much.

Personally, you might do better to do a wild dog pack. They have none of the socialization of wolves and all the vicious. Even worse, if they're abandoned or runaways, they may not have the instinctive fear of fire :).
90908, RE: I third David
Posted by bonniers, Fri May-25-12 08:59 AM
Good point about feral dogs being more vicious. A wolf pack would have to be extremely hungry with no game for days before they'd turn on a human, especially one that was fighting back. (Though I have to wonder if some of the wolves in Yellowstone, who have become somewhat accustomed to people, might behave differently.) But wild dogs will attack for sport.

But even without fear of fire, fire will provide some protection. It burns, and hurts.
90912, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Weird Jim, Sat May-26-12 11:41 AM
Thanks for the input, everybody.

Maybe I didn't word things well enough.

Yes, fire would keep them at bay for a while, but wolves apparently do not give up and fire goes out. There would need to be some killing. Spears and swords often wound without killing, and I imagine wolves are used to carrying on when wounded as I imagine this happens often when they fight. The best idea is the axe. A woodsman's axe is an ideal weapon. The axehead would split skulls and work as a good club.

Thanks for the idea but feral/wild dogs wouldn't suit. The working title is WOLF. The MC is nurtured and raised by a she wolf. Other than that, dogs are easier to drive off than wolves. They may get bored and leave, so for them fire might be ideal.

I had a thought while thinking about the story. The Big Bad Human Eating wolf is more a European legend than a North American one. Do you think it possible that old world wolves are more inclined to this.

A side note that will have nothing to do with my story. All canids use the paws out front, head down pose to indicate wish to play. This includes coyotes, wolves and all manner of dogs on all continents.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960
90913, This link might help
Posted by maripat, Sat May-26-12 12:31 PM

It does seem in the US, most of the attacks in the last 100 years have been with animals and not humans. There have been situations. The teacher out jogging might've looked like prey to the wolves as they were hunting. The student killed in 2005 (?) might've stumbled upon the wolves while they were eating through the trash and again, tried to run.

In Europe from the 1500's to the 1800's there were a lot more attacks on humans.

As for fighting a pack off, it sounds like nothing is full proof.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

90914, RE: This link might help
Posted by bonniers, Sat May-26-12 01:15 PM
Yes, there's considerable evidence that European wolves were larger and more aggressive than North American wolves.

90918, RE: This link might help
Posted by Weird Jim, Sun May-27-12 01:45 PM
Thanks. Interesting information that I think I can use.

While it won't fit in with my story, the bit about the Russians and the Germans having a truce so that they could deal with the wolf threat was also of interest.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960
90915, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Wandering Author, Sat May-26-12 02:42 PM
I won't say this is impossible, but there is something you're going to have to think through very carefully. If "the MC was raised by a she-wolf", since wolves are very social animals, then the MC presumably knows how to send all the right signals to avoid trouble. Which does not mean wolves won't attack under any circumstances, but it does suggest they'd have to be pretty desperate.

For one thing, wolves, North American or European, are not mindless aggressors. And like any other intelligent animal, they tend to pick easy prey when possible.* (Imagine you're lost in the woods, starving, and have concluded you're going to have to bring something down. What animals are you going to look for? Even most clueless city folks know enough not to take on bobcats, bears, etc. in a situation like that. And wolves are a lot smarter about issues like that than clueless city folks.) The MC, who grew up around wolves, would know how to send the "I'm not easy prey" signals that would make them back off - unless they were starving or otherwise desperate.

I don't think they're going to eat their fellows, either, unless they're even more desperate. Wolves in a pack form bonds. They mourn those who fall. Which means they aren't just going to turn on each other unless they're so hungry they've lost their minds. In which case, they'd presumably be both more aggressive but also weaker and more easily tired. So unless you want that, I wouldn't have them distracted by the prospect of a quick snack on one of their friends.

* I won't pretend to have done an exhaustive study, but even in Europe, the attacks I've read of mostly fall into one of two obvious categories. First, the "cornered wolf" situation. In fact, I think this might explain the difference better than natural temperament; Europe is more thickly settled and wolves were more likely to run into humans in situations with less way out than they'd have here in the areas where they range. Corner almost any animal, convince them they'll have to fight to escape, and they'll attack you. The second category is the "easy prey" I mentioned; kids, women, people who were sick or alone and in some sort of trouble. Wolves are smart. And I don't recall reading of many instances where they went after healthy young men. (While women may be just as strong, in those days, look at the clothes they wore. Just by virtue of how hampered she was by her costume, a woman would have been easier prey. No sexism required. :) And everything I know of wolves suggests they're smart enough to recognise the equivalent of "not moving well, so must be easy prey".)
90922, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Justinvs, Tue May-29-12 12:22 AM
The problem with an ax is that while you raise your arms to slash you are vulnerable. Also, wolves being extremely fast and agile, it is easy for them to dodge a falling axe, and when that happens your momentum will carry you once again into a vulnerable position, this time bent forward and off balanced. By the time you recover to take a second swing, one of the other pack members has already circled you and gone for your heels. Classic pack hunting is for one wolf to distract by fainting toward the head and giving ground, while the other members attack from the flank or try to hamstring the prey with a bite to the ankle. Quite honestly, by the time you're facing a hungry bunch of wolves with noting but hand arms, you might as well slather yourself in butter and jelly because you are toast. <G>

90941, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by l_clausewitz, Thu Jun-07-12 05:50 AM
>The problem with an ax is that while you
>raise your arms to slash you are

This isn't necessarily true against a human. It's quite easy to hold the butt of the axe out so that it can be thrust or swung around to fend off attacks from the front (and deliver short-range counterattacks). This can even be quite effective against a single wolf.

As you say, though, wolf hunting methods are all about pack coordination, and I agree that a potential human victim who's down to nothing more than hand-to-hand weapons (which also implies a pack of wolves so extremely hungry and desperate that they'd actually attack a human) is probably toast anyway.
90919, RE: Fighting off wolves
Posted by Weird Jim, Sun May-27-12 02:00 PM
I do have a fantasy element in the story so I will have room to make some of my own rules. I'm thinking about rival packs.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960