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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

03 - 05 August 2007 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - August 3rd

I left work about 2:00 p.m. The police had the traffic divert about 10 miles out of main highway just south of Ashton. I kind of enjoyed seeing some new country on old country roads. It was slow going because of the semi-trailers stopping when they met another semi coming toward them. There were lots of old farms and ranches back that way and of course a few really nice new homes. I learned later that there was a head on crash, killed two and three others were flown to ERMAC via Air Idaho. There was a little more traffic but I still made Dunraven Pass by 5:15 p.m. A mother blue grouse with 5 little ones crossed the road in front of me (that's one reason they call them fool's hens--had to hit the brakes to avoid them and they were still in the road after I circled around them). Drove into a bear jam about 3/4 mile above Chittenden Road (just missed the sow with two coy's). I didn’t see anything at Antelope Creek so I went back up the road about 6:45 p.m. to try to see the grizzly with two coy's. Meanwhile she had crossed the road so I missed her again. I headed for Chittenden Road just as she was going over the hill to the north of the parking lot. I had planned to camp outside the park near Silver Gate but I decided to move to Lamar, a little closer to the action. I had heard from Brian C. that a bison had died south of Dorothy's Knoll on Wednesday, and on the way, off Antelope Creek, I heard on the radio that a grizzly had found the carcass. I arrived to find a bear jam. The rangers had put out the “Closed Bear Frequently Area” signs 100 yards downhill from Dorothy's Knoll. Just below about 200-300 yards the bear was making sure the two coyotes in the area didn't get any. It was a large tall grizzly who entertained everyone until dark. I was the lost scope to leave the area because that Swarovski really lets the light in. It was a warm evening and it got hotter in the dark. There were a few showers moving thru the area, so I had to keep the windows up. I finally got to sleep before midnight.

Saturday - August 4th

At 5:35 a.m. I found a smaller grizzly near the carcass. I couldn't see anything else so I left as the crowds were building. I later heard that the large grizzly from Friday night returned and ran this smaller grizzly off. He didn’t stay long as the carcass was pretty much gone. I arrived at Antelope Creek and glassed the lower areas with no luck. Moving up to the boulder pullout, I found the grizzly with two coy's just above the road. She soon crossed right thru the people and parked cars (couldn't have been more than 5 feet between the two parked cars she went through. She was now below the road and made it to the bottoms around 9:30 a.m. and then went back up and crossed the road again. This time the rangers/bear management (including Bill W) were on site and made space by stopping traffic. I had my only black bear of the weekend sighting in Antelope Creek half way down to the Tower Store. It was cooler today and I got a nice one hour or so nap in the old bathroom pullout. Found a site at Tower and spent the early afternoon at the Osprey nest. The one chick is getting really to leave; testing his wings already, and will probably be gone by September 1st. A really windy front came through. The dust across the Yellowstone River from the Osprey nest made visibility almost nothing. It actually started a new rock slide, which you could hear across from the nest pullout. I headed for Antelope Creek and the rangers pulled in to tell everyone about the high winds suggestion they move down hill. I stayed as there were a lot less trees up on Antelope Creek to fall over. Lots of roads were temporarily closed thru-out the park and I heard that less than half the tents were still standing after the storm in the camping area by Bridge Bay. The storm blew out the haze that had been around all weekend. It was light all the way across to the backside of Specimen Ridge. Somehow the grizzly with two coy's re-crossed the road and was now in the bottoms for the evening. I found her around 5:00 p.m. and she was out until dark. Also around 5:00 p.m. someone saw a tall lanky grizzly crossing # 3 clearing and around 7:00 p.m. reappear briefly on honeymoon. I found a small grizzly on # 1 clearing (this is the first sighting for me in the clearing all year -since most the sightings have been lower this year). The grizzly seemed really tentative as it only came out into the clearing 10-15 yards and then disappeared back into the tree line. He reappeared two other times after this evening. I located a dark grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge left of roof top. I then found the sow with three coy's right of Gunsight (she had only moved about 3/4 of a mile north since last weekend). I found my only wolf of the weekend moving below the par 3 and then thru the par 3 near dark. It was a black wolf, small I though. It might have been a pup. The wind storm cooled the temperatures a little and it was great sleeping Saturday night.

Sunday - August 5th.

The sow with two coy's was found on honeymoon this morning as she moved down below trash can # 58. She was probably going to walk up to the road again, but I left her still in the bottoms just before 9:00 a.m. I did find a large medium brown grizzly high on par # 5 digging for 10 minutes this a.m. Other news, the wolf watching has been poor. I spotted eight Slough's above the Institute on Saturday a.m. and a few bedded in the aspens this side of the river south of Dorothy's Knoll Sunday a.m. Only saw one black wolf in the a.m. and one in the p.m. crossing in Antelope Creek. The best place for wolves remains Alum Creek in the Hayden Valley. There were sightings every day, most of the time mid morning and mid afternoons. There are lots of bison in every place now. Hayden is jam city. Laurie's wolf report even had a large bull run them off the viewing hill the other day. There are lots of tourists, with everything full and busy now.

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