Yellowstone National Park 2013 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
19 thru 27 October 2013
~ October 2013 ~
Saturday - 19 October
An easy ride up to the park this morning. I left at 5:00 a.m. and got to Hayden around 8:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m. I found a grizzly on the bench south of the Institute. I watched for over an hour, and it bedded most of the time (must be getting tired). I camped the first three nights near Silver Gate, two nights at LaDuke outside of Gardiner, one night sharing a campsite with Jack G. in Mammoth, and finally the last two nights near Silver Gate again. It was 17 degrees in Hayden this morning, warming to 48 in the afternoon. A couple of swans on the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley and a few more on Swan Lake.
Sunday - 20 October
35 degrees in the morning warming up to 47 degrees. At 7:55 a.m. I spotted a lighter grizzly 100 yards off the road south of Footbridge Pullout. This grizzly was out most of the day, disappearing around 11:30 a.m. near Dead Puppy Hill, but reappearing in the Soda Butte Valley for most of the afternoon. At 10:00 a.m. we had three black and nine gray wolves of the Junction Butte pack bedded in a clearing west of the drainage straight south of the Institute. They spent a lot of time looking into the drainage, and finally disappeared into it. The next day the wolf plane flew and discovered a bull elk carcass in the drainage with a large grizzly on it. At 1:15 p.m. we had a grizzly digging in the bare dirt of the #1 finger of Norris. At 5:00 p.m. my only black bear of the trip was grazing across the Lamar River viewed from Dorothy's Knoll.
Monday - 21 October
25 degrees this morning warming to a pleasant 56 degrees. At 7:45 a.m. we had eight gray and three black wolves bedded east of the drainage south of the Institute (we call that the second sliver). At 12:00 noon I found the new pair of 755M and 889F in the large clearing behind Jasper Bench and west of the drainage (they had been seen earlier this morning). 755M the former old alpha male of the Lamar Canyon pack and 889F the GPS collared black female chased away from the Junction Butte Pack in early summer. The two appeared to be heading for the carcass in the drainage, but the Junction Butte bedded wolves detected them and howled. That was enough to send 755M and 889F back to the west. In the next hour we watched ten of the Junction Butte come across and scent mark trail the pair. Did not look to serious, as three came first, then one, then four, then three separate wolves following along.
Tuesday - 22 October
23 degrees this morning warming to a pleasant 56 degrees. At 8:15 a.m. we had seven gray and three black wolves of the Junction Butte pack bedded from Hellroaring Overlook. I headed into Gardiner for gas, etc. around noon. On the way back spotted the two wolves (Big Brown and his mate) at the Geode Pond heading south. At 5:45 p.m. I spotted a grizzly high in the Hellroaring Clearing. At 6:45 p.m. the wolves started a couple not serious hunts and Peter found another grizzly near the bend in the Hellroaring Creek.
Wednesday - 23 October
Another pleasant day with a high of 60 degrees and no wind. At 8:30 a.m. we watched seven gray and three black wolves of the Junction Butte Pack low on Hellroaring bedded or milling around. Lots of ravens and magpies in the area. At 9:40 a.m. we found the carcass with a nice small almost black grizzly on it. At 12:15 p.m. I found a nice grizzly in Round Prairie. At 6:00 p.m. I spotted a grizzly high up and moving down in Hellroaring Opening. Good wolf chases near dark, chasing lots and lots of elk between the Hellroaring Creek and the Yellowstone River on the west side of the opening.
Thursday - 24 October
30 degrees this morning warming to a warm 63 degrees. I had two shooting stars on the way into Hellroaring this morning. At 7:30 a.m. we had seven grays and three black wolves of the Junction Butte pack still in the Hellroaring Area. A larger grizzly was now on the carcass and he had moved the carcass to a good viewing spot (yesterday all we saw the top of a bear, unless he stood up). At 3:00 p.m. I spotted the light grizzly in Ice Box Canyon. It had been there most of the day and off and on for about a week.
Friday - 25 October
35 degrees this morning warming to a warm 63 degrees. Yesterday Linda T. had mentioned that grizzlies had been seen regularly in Tom Miner Basin. So Jack G. and I headed over that way this morning. Just about the Bar B Ranch we found a nice clearing. At 7:30 a.m. we had a large grizzly crossing the clearing. Soon after that Jack G. found a small grizzly about 1/3 mile north of the clearing running and soon spotted a third grizzly, this one medium sized. Viewing was only for about 30 minutes, but nice and close (1/2 mile or so). Apparently the grizzlies are eating something called caraway (a noxious plant with a high sugar content that grows in mixed sagebrush and small tree areas). At 10:30 a.m. we had 869M, 3 gray and one black wolves of the Junction Butte Pack moving on the hills of Hellroaring. At 6:30 p.m. my last sighting was a grizzly crossing Round Prairie heading east.
Saturday - 26 October
At 8:45 a.m. we had one black and two gray wolves bedded in Hellroaring Overlook. At 10:30 a.m. we watched a grizzly at the confluence of the Lamar River and the Soda Butte Creek. It was 21 degrees this morning and heating up to 63 degrees in the afternoon. At 3:00 p.m. while glassing in Round Prairie I noticed a white circle in the sky above the mountains. Peter M. and I decided it must be Venus, the planet. He took a few pictures and it appeared to have a crescent shape, like Venus. I'm guessing that the skies were so clear with the high pressure that it was visible. We watched it for well over an hour, and it moved to the west like the moon and sun do.
Sunday - 27 October
25 degrees this morning and another shooting star before daylight, this one from Dorothy's Knoll. At 8:00 a.m. I spotted seven gray and three black wolves of the Junction Butte Pack on a carcass north of Boulder Pullout. The carcass was pretty much gone and we watched the wolves cross the Buffalo Ford and move to the west.
Scarface has been seen in the Hayden Valley several times lately. The fish and game people have been working on the Soda Butte Creek. Apparently the rainbow trout can climb the creek disturbing the native trout. They were going to blow up a couple areas where the creek had split (leaving the small falls, but closing the easy way up the stream). Therefore leaving the upper Soda Butte Creek to the native trout. The Slough Creek Campground was closed (was to be open until October 31st), and they were working on the road. Looked better that it has in years. The Tower Road to the store is complete, and open. Looked nice. Two of the Lamar Canyon wolves (big gray and the black female) visited the Soda Butte Valley one day I was up, I missed them.
Wolf watchers: Rick M, Doug M (from Silver Gate), Wendy from NY, Peter M, Richard B from Utah, Cliff B from Cooke City, Don from Colorado, Amy formerly from Washington, Marlene from Utah, Cheyenne and Peter from the Wolf Project. Bear watchers: Jack G, Doug M from Gardiner, Others: Bob L, Jim H, John K, Dan, Cindy and Kelly from Silver Gate, Dusty from PA, Tom Holcombe (I use to work with in Pocatello), Nathan V, Linda T, McNeil L, and Scott and Penny from Blackfoot, Idaho.
Lots of elk returning to the valleys particularly in Hellroaring and near Boulder Pullout, lots of bison everywhere, a couple of coyotes, rabbits near Mammoth are still brown, lots of mule deer, a few pronghorn antelope in the park, and lots more near Gardiner.
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