December 02, 2015 10:30 AM

Here’s how the wolfpack learned to howl.

The stars of Alaskan Bush People are known for howling to each other to communicate, and in an exclusive sneak peek at Wednesday’s episode, the family says the tradition started with a scary encounter.

When dad Bill and mom Ami Brown’s kids were little, they were building a cabin on some land and were sleeping in a tent until it was completed. Bill, 61, recalls that after a meal, he heard one wolf howl on one side of his family, and another wolf responded from the other side of the Brown clan.

“The next time they howled, they were a lot closer,” Bill tells his children. “Mom and I both figured, We’re dead. But we were trying not to freak you guys out.”

Though the kids thought the wolves were fun, Bill says he kept getting closer to his gun because he was worried the animals would harm his family.

“We thought we were about to get eaten, all of us,” he says.

All of a sudden, three wolves appeared directly in front of the family – both Bill and Ami had guns in their hands, but then something surprising happened. The Brown children, who weren’t scared, began to howl at the wolves – and the wolves answered them, as though they were all friends.

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“They knew we were a pack like they were a pack,” says Ami, 52.

The family has been howling ever since.

Season 3 of Alaskan Bush People airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Discovery Channel.

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