While this has happened about 22 years ago, I never really stopped thinking about it and still regard it as unsolved mystery. While I asked plenty outdoormen, nobody had this experience. Having recently discovered this site, I'm hoping to get at least some answers.
I apologize for the long description, but I believe it is necessary to ascertain all the facts first, as any small detail may be important.
- Middle of January, around 1am at night (gets dark around 3.30pm over there, so it was as dark as it gets)
- Quite warm temperature for the night (only around -20 Celsius, e.g. -5 Fahrenheit)
- Weather was good, initially the wind wasn't very strong, but then started gradually picking up such that walking became much harder and problematic by the time I got back home (e.g. you have to focus and exert quite some energy so the wind does not actually bring you down)
- Region has some steep hills, deep woods (and as an aside anecdote: a cold-war russian bunker) and small villages (think : couple hundred people, occasionally up to 800 - 1,000) scattered along the main road
Region is known to have few wolf packs. Attacks on humans are rare, but not out of question (around 1 each 10 years). You know those 'scary cry-wolf' kids stories ? Well, in our village, that story gets attached to concrete people and names.
I walked a short distance - maybe about 4-5 kms, mostly in total darkness (no headlamp or anything), directly over the main road, when I felt something was watching me, and indeed, at a place where road gets quite close to the woods (about 100 meters), I could see quite a few pairs of eyes.
- It was at that time that I realized the howling (it's a common sound in winter, so we get used to it fast) I was hearing before, was of those wolves (obviously)
- The alpha male then started running against me, but just him alone - the pack stayed at the boundary between woods and snowy field by the road
- He however stopped quite far - about 5-7 meters from me
- Over the course of next 30-40 minutes, he was gradually coming closer to me, step by step, but the closest he got was about 3 meters.
- He was growling, teeth out, he definitely looked ready to take a bite, had that pose where whole body is lowered (as a cat), getting ready to jump
- But he didn't. Despite the pack very loudly provoking him and aggressively howling
- This encounter lasted about 30-40 minutes, at which point I reached the top of the hill (with my village), where there were finally some first houses and street lamps
He had me, for over half an hour, in total darkness, at a distance of 3-5 meters. Backed up with about 6 wolves (never exactly counted all those eyes, as I was busy with the alpha male, but know for sure there were more than 5)
At one point, I could clearly see the pack was very thin, mustn't have eaten for quite some time, so I would provide a welcome and nutritious fresh meal
So, why on earth did they not attack ?!?
Additional facts about me:
- Height : 190 cm
- Weight : ~100 kg (but my 'build' is wider, so I was very far from being fat at that weight)
I understand how they tracked me. Having just undergone a very strong argue with my brother, I was full of adrenaline, so I must have been reeking it for kilometers (especially in the wind) in that temperature.
It is this adrenaline that has kept me calm all the time, while I was walking with wolf for those 30-40 minutes. I was looking into his eyes all this time (walking straight up the steep hill, yet head turned right so I could see what he was doing), and could 'see' the hesitation to attack, yet there was clearly a very strong hunger (he was very, very thin, poor thing) and instinct to just jump and take a bite.
I only read it recently you are not supposed to engage the wolf like that (as it is regarded as provocation).
I believe that level of adrenalin is also why I did not get scared (as those pheromones, which I already knew at that time from painful experience when one dog bit me to my back couple years back, can enrage even a small dog, let alone a proper wolf).
My only semi-rational explanation is that the wolf must have been waiting for the fear pheromone signal, which didn't came. And my height/weight must have become obvious only from those 5 meters (not sure about their physiology of vision - how it works in wolves (perspective and such)), so he became hesitant whether to attack.
Any other ideas ?