Trip Report ~ Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
14 - 18 October 2011
~ October 2011 ~
Friday - 14 October
I left after breakfast with the old work crew. Weather was partly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees in mid afternoon in Yellowstone. The Canyon Pack hasn't been seen in about 4 days, the pups must be traveling with the pack now, so no wolf sightings in Hayden Valley today. At 10:40 a.m. I spotted a small grizzly running thru an opening from the wildlife overlook in south Hayden Valley (brief sighting - 10 seconds). I had four swans and three coyotes also in Hayden Valley today. At 6:55 p.m. I found a black bear in Crystal drainage. There has been a lot of bear activity in Cooke City and Silver Gate. Two grizzlies behind the hotels during
the late afternoon, and black bears in and around Silver Gate. A few days later they had three cars broken into in the government area at the Northeast Entrance. I saw the bear trap heading that way soon after that. I haven't heard if they caught anything yet. That being said, I decided to camp in Mammoth Campground for this trip. Friday night was a hoot. At 2:40 a.m. a bull elk ran past the car on the campground road. At 4:30 a.m. it returned and decided to bugle 10 feet from the car for 3-5 minutes. Who needs a good night rest while at home in Yellowstone?
Saturday - October 15th
Another nice day with a high of 62 degrees in Lamar Valley, but a constant wind made it feel cooler. At 8:00 a.m. 10 of the Lamar Canyon wolves moved from Little America thru Crystal Creek and I finally caught up with them south of fisherman's pullout in Lamar Valley (note: they had been out of valley for several days). One gray pup was missing (showed up a couple of days later). They moved east catching and killing a coyote on their way. They bedded south of mid point and later the adults moved off and out of sight to the east. The pups and one yearling gray bedded in the area the rest of the day. At about 8:15 a.m. I found a tall grizzly on the skyline south of the Institute (15 second sighting). More elk bugling in the camp but not as close and a chorus of coyotes around 5:00 a.m. (a nice alarm clock).
Sunday - October 16th
Cooler today with rain in the afternoon and low clouds off and on. At 8:00 a.m. the four (three black and one gray) pups and one gray yearling were still south of midpoint. At 9:15 a.m. Calvin and Lynette found eight Blacktail pack wolves on Specimen Ridge and best viewed from the west trailhead for Specimen Ridge (close to the Yellowstone Picnic area). Four black and four grays with an assortment of adults and pups. They eventually moved south and out of sight. I headed to Elk Creek and viewed them still going south while a black bear moved quickly to the trees near them. Rick had a mountain lion slowly cross the road before daylight between Thunderer and the Soda Butte Picnic area. High of 45 degrees but it felt cooler.
Monday - October 17th
Well the bugling bull elk was back bugling and trashing the brushes near the campground check in this morning. The Lamar Canyon wolves were on Norris Mountain (all eleven of them) this morning (I missed them). Calvin and Lynette had wolves in Yancy's Hole near Tower Junction also this morning. I heard howling from boulder pullout and finally saw two of the four (one black and one gray) cross the road near the exit to the Blacktail Deer one way road. Marlene, Calvin, Lynette and I planned a hike in Pelican Creek today. On the way in we saw a large grizzly 100 yards off the road near the Grizzly Lake Trailhead. I put up the scope to find it was scarface. I haven't seen him in over 1 1/2 months and never that far north. He looked good and was still heading north when I left him. We walked about 1 1/2 miles into Pelican Valley, where the trail opens up. One blue grouse, four bull elk and lots of bison only were all we saw on the way in. On the way back, we found a bear jam on the wildlife overlook and the grizzly sow with two yearlings right below the pullout (40-60 yards). The light yearling is much bigger than the other one (I'm guessing the large one is a boar). And the sow has a red ear tag (never noticed that before). I left early enough to arrive at Swan Lake flats before dusk. The quad mom with two yearlings was out. Not a bad day for grizzlies with 7. High of 38 degrees today.
Tuesday - October 18th
Cooler again today with 19 degrees in the early morning. Quite quiet in the campground, except the coyote family howling at 5:00 a.m. I slept in today as I was heading home and wanted to glass Swan Lake Flats at daylight. I had a fox in the road before daylight. Then I found a single large grizzly to the north. Next I found three wolves also to the north, one black, one gray and one dark with a really black tail. The fog and low clouds moved in and I headed for Hayden. Hayden Valley was fogged in so I headed home.
People seen: wolf watchers: Rick, Laurie, Marlene, Calvin and Lynette, Anne (briefly), Doug (from Silver Gate), and Sian (a lady from England/Wales). Others: Carl and Doug (from Gardiner).
The leaves are turning fast and I guess will be peaking this week. Swan Flat Lake is frozen over in most places. Quite a few elk returning to the valleys, particularly in Lamar and Swan Lake Flats.
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