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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal ~ 2008 Trip Report Page

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ 26 - 30 November 2008 Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Wednesday - November 26th

I left work at 5:10 p.m. and made pretty good time, all the roads were clear thru Bozeman and on to Gardiner. I made LaDuke around 10:18 p.m. Lots of deer on the road from Livingston in, and a little road construction over near Big Sky. Ralph reported having a black bear below the fish den on Garnett Hill today. The weather for the weekend was pretty good. A little rain/snow Friday and Saturday nights. No snow on the ground throughout Lamar Valley.

Thursday - November 27th - Thanksgiving

Bob found the Druid's, main group, north of Coyote Overlook. The Druid's have split into two groups, at least for now. The alpha's, the yearling females and all the pups (total 15 members) have been anywhere from up Cache Creek all the way to Junction Butte. The second group has 302M and five adult males and they have been all the way to the Leopold den area over by Frog Rock. Not a lot of action, as this group of 11 were bedded almost all the way to the skyline. Around 3:00 p.m. Ralph called and had a Grizzly on an old wolf carcass from Hellroaring Overlook, this side of the river.

Friday - November 28th

Ralph and I were at Hellroaring before dawn and heard a nice howling from near the Hellroaring Creek, the bend in the river. Soon after light we spotted the Slough Creek pack (only 7 members with this group- 6 blacks and a gray (only 8 total now with 380M off by himself). Most of this pack are females and smaller than other packs and no collars left in this group. The wolf people were happy to see these girls since no working collars in the group. They were moving to the south, passed two small herds of elk, then started a chase and ended in a kill right in front of us (this side of the river). Unlike most of the kills, this one was visible from start to finish. The Druids were back at the rendezvous area in Lamar today, but bedded (had 15 there, but I only saw 480M the black alpha. Beautiful day, sunny with a light breeze, made the 35 degrees feel like 55 degrees.

Saturday - November 29th

The Druid's, main group were in Little America this morning near old 9's den to the south. Good viewing, all 15 were there. Bob called Ralph to Boulder, and we walked towards the river. Apparently a couple of days before, the wolves had chased a cow elk into Little Trumpeter Pond. I think it died out in the middle of the pond, and froze there. Unlike most carcasses in the water, this one was pretty much below the surface. Bob said the wolves had visited, but couldn't do much. Soon a grizzly came into the scene. It pulled it out and was feeding on it when another grizzly came along and replaced the first grizzly (called "no ear"). The second grizzly didn't like the water and ice as much as no ear, so he dragged it to shore. When Ralph and I arrived, no ear was bedded in the sagebrush and the other one was on the carcass. Two coyotes visited and no ear visited once. No ear looked a little larger than the grizzly on the carcass, but apparently the two had settled who was in charge earlier. We watched for hours, once no ear came out into the pond, apparently looking to see if perhaps some of the carcass was still in the pond. He put on a great show, was in the water for 5 to 10 minutes, looking for any leftovers. On the way to Gardiner, went in early and found 31 plus big horns near the north entrance (rams and the ewes, so it must be close to mating season). Found the only pronghorn antelope for the weekend also near the north entrance.

Sunday - November 30th

I didn't go out today, just headed home. Had ice from Big Sky to Ashton, Idaho, but only slowed me down a little. Had a bunch of swans in the Snake River near St. Anthony. Ralph took a few pictures of the two grizzlies in and around the pond. The first one was the dominant grizzly with the carcass on the shoreline. He spent most of the time entertaining himself. Once he was on his back sleeping and stretching at the same time. Quite a few magpies and ravens around, while sleeping he would move his foot once in a while to drive off the birds. I figure we were less that 300 yards from the bears, but the wind was in our favor.

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