Some important things to know about Ulrich are that he is dedicated to his family and steadfastly upholds their side of a three-generation feud; he is devoted to revenge and retribution for wrongs against his family; he has the capacity for mercy, love, forgiveness and compassion; he trusts in the power of his comrades, his "men," more than he trusts in the dangers of the forest.
Ulrich has spent his life fighting for his family's rights and, in connection with that, yearning for the death of his enemy, Georg Znaeym, a young man about his own age from the enemy family. On the dark and stormy night of the story, Ulrich yearns for the chance to get the poacher, Georg, alone, so as to rid himself of his enemy.
When given the chance, Ulrich hesitates a moment because, being civilized, he isn't capable of killing in cold blood (neither has Georg, because he hesitates, too). This act of civility and mercy begins the revelation of the depths of Ulrich's (and Georg's) capacity for love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion when, after a beech branch falls on, traps, and injures both men, Ulrich forgives Georg and asks his friendship because, while being trapped there, Ulrich has heard the humanity in Georg's suffering struggles.
An idea was slowly forming and growing in [Ulrich's] brain. . . he looked across at the man who was fighting so grimly against pain and exhaustion. . . [T]he old fierce hatred seemed to be dying down.
"Neighbour," he said presently, ". . . I've changed my mind. . . Neighbour, if you will help me to bury the old quarrel I—I will ask you to be my friend."
Ulrich has so much trust in his men coming to save him that he forgets about the trust men can have in nature to overwhelm and devour them: calling for his men, Ulrich inadvertently calls in the wolves.
"Are they your men?" asked Georg. "Are they your men?" he repeated impatiently as Ulrich did not answer.
"No," said Ulrich with a laugh, the idiotic chattering laugh of a man unstrung with hideous fear.
"Who are they?" asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen.