A thoughtful, sometimes platitudinous wilderness lover, Clarkson has previously written on the mink, the deer and the gray seal. This one is about a summer wandering through the Great North Woods in search of the elusive timber wolf--an animal which has long had an undeserved reputation as man's arch foe. Five hundred to a thousand--more, according to local trappers--still inhabit these primordial woodlands, part of an exquisite ecological balance which inspires Clarkson to reflect that ""somewhere behind the moose, the wolf, and the tapeworm lay a guiding force at once omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent."" Clarkson rambles on about the harmonies of the forest and the disruption of the ecosystem occasioned by the vanity and greed of beaver trappers, buffalo hunters and the cowboys who for generations used strychnine to kilt off the wolves. Though most of this is innocuous enough, Clarkson does have a regrettable tendency to lapse into pseudo-profundities-actually cliches by now -- on how ""the individual serves the species and the species the environment."" He also never manages to encounter an actual wolf though contact of a sort is established when he ""cupped my hands to my cheek and sent the cry of the wolf ringing over the frozen landscape."" Certainly no match for Farley Mowat's classic, and vastly more entertaining, Never Cry Wolf (1963).