Trip Report ~ Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
02 - 07 August 2011
~ August 2011 ~
Tuesday - 02 August
I left before 4:00 a.m. and made good time to the park. Nothing in view at Hayden so headed over the hill to Antelope Creek. At 7:00 a.m. I found a grizzly in a clearing across from Mae West. At 7:15 a.m. I spotteda small grizzly in the flats at Antelope Creek. Still quite a few elk in Antelope Creek. I found a campsite at Tower Campground (still without host), for my stay this trip. At 8:30 a.m. I got to fisherman's pullout in Lamar Valley. Apparently the 06 female killed a bull elk on Monday just before daylight right next to the river (125 yards from the pullout). When I arrived a sow grizzly (it had been there since daylight and people had seen it urinate and determined it was a sow) had the carcass with 06 and 755M wolves trying to get the carcass back. I set up east of fishermans on the hill for a nice view. The people in the parking lot could hear the grizzly growling when the wolves came too close. There was a grizzly also high on ski slope. Later in the morning we saw another grizzly, collared grazing across the river and upstream. Soon it started to make a slow trip to the carcass. After a few setbacks, this sow collared grizzly took over the carcass. The first grizzly left slowly and went out of sight on the bench. About this time someone arrived saying a black bear was swimming across the Lamar River downstream. It arrived along the river corridor and it wasn't a black bear, but a grizzly. It approached the carcass, but thought better of it and left choosing to cross the road. John the bear management roadside "ranger" shoed us all to the cars. The other sow grizzly and the two alpha wolves stayed until after noon before leaving with not much left of the carcass. I decided to do Hayden Valley for the evening. At 6:00 p.m. the grizzly sow with two coys was across from grizzly overlook. About 7:30 p.m. we spotted an adult black wolf and all three pups north near Wapiti (they have moved the rendezvous area from the point of the trees (1 mile plus) back to another tree line (1.5 miles plus). I found a grizzly on questionmark clearing back in Antelope Creek on my way back to camp.
Wednesday - 03 August
At 6:10 a.m. 755M was heading back to the carcass area and was in view south of the Institute (he returned later in mid-morning also in good view from the Institute). At 6:15 a.m. I found a grizzly south of midpoint. At 6:20 a.m. we had a grizzly south of picnic area. At 6:30 a.m. we found a gray yearling wolf near the carcass at fisherman's pullout. At 9:00 a.m. I spotted a grizzly in the high grass across the river south of the Institute. To let you know how high the grass is this year, I had heard about the grizzly but had to eventually go the midpoint/Hubbard hill to finally see it. At 5:10 p.m. we had a grizzly in a bear jam near picnic area, about 300 yards south. At 6:00 p.m. heading for Antelope Creek for the evening had a bear jam north of the old bathroom pullout/Buffalo south of Tower Falls (it was a cinnamon black bear above the road). By the way, I had zero bears at Antelope Creek for the entire evening.
Thursday - 04 August
At 6:10 a.m. Kathy pointed out a grizzly south and west of footbridge. I located another grizzly in the same area going away from the road but separate from the first grizzly. At 6:50 a.m. we had a grizzly in the bowl south and west of the Institute. At 7:00 a.m. I spotted a grizzly north of coyote overlook. I decided to head south again this morning, but had a grizzly below Mae West on the way. Between 8:20 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. I found one black pup, one gray yearling and one black pup in the farther away rendezvous site in Hayden. At 5:15 p.m. the alpha female, one black adult, two gray adults and two black puppies were visible in the rendezvous area. At 6:15 p.m. I watched a grizzly sow with one yearling way west in Alum Creek, Ray from Florida made the spot and showed me.
Friday - 05 August
Lauri showed me a grizzly in a herd of bison at 5:50 a.m. from footbridge. At 6:30 a.m. we watched a grizzly in the snow way way south and west of K meadow (stayed in the snow for over an hour???). At 7:10 a.m. I spotted a grizzly north and east of coyote overlook. At 8:10 a.m. we had a small grizzly in the bowl viewed from the Institute. At 11:00 a.m. 755M was seen out for a walk south of the Institute, then bedded out of sight near the river, and finally was moving again at 12:30 p.m. At 1:15 p.m. we had a black bear at Yellowstone Picnic Area. I decided to go south again for the evening. I found a parking space at grizzly overlook for the evening. Larry from Iowa arrived about 6:00 p.m. just having seen the alpha female (white), 715M (black) and a gray yearling west of the Mary Mountain trailhead just across the river. People were pulled over in the lot watching the bison swim the river, and didn't even notice the wolves across the river. Anyway Larry said they were coming our way. Sure enough, soon they came into view, swam the river and for the next 30-40 minutes moved south just across the river (didn't even need binoculars to see them). Meanwhile the grizzly sow with two coys was in and out of sight to the south and west. Later the black yearling wolf and all three puppies came out to play way back near the new rendezvous area.
Saturday - 06 August
I arrived at hitching post about 5:45 a.m. and Rick and the wolf people were already hiking out. I went to footbridge pullout were I had one gray wolf and soon 754M in the parking lot. I called Rick who came back and up to me. They were walking the road and he went east to push them off the road. At 6:40 a.m. I spotted a grizzly high and west of K meadow. At 6:45 a.m. we watched a large grizzly south and east of the footbridge in the rendezvous area. At 7:45 a.m. I found a large grizzly in the bowl viewed from the Institute. At 9:30 a.m. we watched a grizzly just across the river at the confluence (stayed there all day, in fact at night it left circling around south of footbridge for good viewing). It's amazing that he stays in the willows near the confluence with all the fisherman in the area. At 9:30 a.m. I found four pups, and two adults in the diagonal forest (I had all the wolf spotting for morning). At 5:10 p.m. I spotted a small grizzly west of A-Z meadow, high up. At 5:30 p.m. we watched a black bear way south in the second clearing beyond ski slope. At 5:40 p.m. we had a small grizzly east of A-Z meadow. I went wolf watching again tonight. Hiking out in the rolling hills south of hitching post. We had a gray wolf come out with 3 pups for a quick view. The gray adult bedded on the top of the diagonal meadow, with a visit from pups every once in a while. Meanwhile the confluence grizzly was slowly moving away from the road, so I had bear and wolves in sight most of the evening. Around dark the bedded wolf disappeared but all five pups showed up just above the road and played and moved west for good viewing (closest the pups have come to the road yet).
Sunday - 07 August
They found one pup in the diagonal forest before I walked out. Nathan called saying five wolves had a bull elk in the river south of midpoint so everyone left the rolling hills. I stayed, not liking the crowds and got to watch 754M and four of the five pups in the diagonal clearing again with only a couple people there. At 6:20 a.m. I found a grizzly in K meadow. At 6:30 a.m. Mike from Bozeman showed me a grizzly way out in the bowl viewed from hitching post. On the way out of the valley, the 06 female approached the really old (2 months) bison carcass at fishermans. The other four wolves bedded on the west end of Jasper Bench. On the way home I had the collared grizzly sow in a high clearing just south of Dunraven Pass.
One day we had a blue grouse jam near Calcite. Five grouse with no brains (no wonder they call them fool hens). They were right in the road with traffic blocked both ways. The NPS re-clipped the road from Canyon to Chittenden Road. They also put a new toilet in the bathroom at Dunraven picnic area. The sandhill cranes at Floating Island Lake are down to one colt (chick). Someone noticed the other one dead near the nest. The red tailed hawks have fledged. The two osprey chicks across from fishermans are getting really big. The black bear with 2 cubs of the year has been seen near Elk Creek (I missed it). People seen: Wolf watchers: Dan and Lauri, Rick, Kathy, Doug from Silver Gate, Jeff from Alberta Canada, Mike and Emily, Brian with his grandson Harley. Bear watchers: Gayle and Brett from Utah, Luke and Mayleea from Utah, Larry and Jane from Iowa, Ray and his wife from Florida, (the grizzly gang that always comes in and stays at Canyon).
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