DAY THREE - Sunday, June 15


It looks cloudy again today as I set out. There is fog in the Moose Meadow and in Round Prairie. I stop at Footbridge but when I hear Rick on the radio I continue west. Soon I am climbing up Geriatric Hill.

Rick has signals of the Lamar Alphas, but even more interestingly, he also has 755.

That’s who I see first, roaming in the sage out near the eroded area. There is a black wolf with him, but it’s not 889. It’s the Black Female from the Junctions. Hmmm, looks like he has a new girlfriend!

They move across the sage and into the river bottom. We see a single cow elk moving like they do when they’ve just lost a calf. Hmm. I see the Black female stalking something but I can’t see what. Maybe a coyote getting too close?

Then she and 755 bed for a while. They act like they ate already. Then the cow elk sneaks up on the female and charges her. She startles, but doesn’t give chase. Next, the elk rushes 755 and he runs away. Then he turns and heads up to the middle flats (the old river bank). She follows him and they bed there. They don’t rest long but are on the move through the sage – hard to see. Pronghorn and Bison are all over.

Then we notice a grizzly in the same area as the wolves are. We can see him smell something and head for it. Probably what is left of the calf.

We also see sandhills.

The wolves finally bed down and stay down, so people start to leave. I decide to go west myself.

From Dorothy’s I see a nice grizzly on Secret Passage. There are bedded elk beneath the cottonwoods near the river bank directly south.

Laurie & I decide to try our luck at Blacktail again.

When we get there we see that Rick has found a new spot that he likes better than where we were yesterday. We call it Fire Trail West.

Unfortunately today is not like yesterday. No wolves and a steady wind. Not good. Oh well.

So we head back east. We see a coyote with shedding issues or possibly mange at Phantom Lake. I hear a meadowlark and notice many more wildflowers. Prairie smoke, larkspur, flox, spring beauty. Really pretty

I head in to Silver Gate for a nap. Rick calls Laurie to say there is a new bison carcass – this one south of Picnic. There is an orphaned calf nearby, running here and there, frantic. Will likely not survive. Perhaps momma died of bloat because the legs are sticking up in the air. Hmm, this could be interesting.

I have probably written of this before in other June reports, but apparently it is somewhat common for bison to die in summer from bloat. The rich green grass can ferment in their stomachs and cause gas to build up, which can cause internal swelling which can quicky affect other organs and cause death. Their misfortune becomes a bounty for local predators.

After my nap I head back in around 6:30. I hope to see 755. Jeremy is ahead of me. Laurie says I should call her if we have something. A chipmunk crosses the road, makes me swerve.

As we come into the valley at the beginning of golden hour I am reminded of countless other springs coming in this way, and how magical the valley still seems to me after all these years. Part of it is nostalgia, and part current reality. A potent combination!

Jeremy and I stop at Fisherman’s. He’s found 911 nearly hidden in tall grass right at the river’s edge, eating the bison calf carcass that Calvin found last night. 2 coyotes harass him but he doesn’t care.

We also see antelope & sandhills. There are three grizzlies on the bison carcass up the hill but we watch 911.

I learn that Becky & Chloe’s van broke down. Calvin & Lynette are with them at Picnic. They’ve called a tow truck to bring them to Gardiner (to the Tire Iron). They had been waiting at Picnic for something to come on the carcass. Jeremy calls Laurie to give her the scoop.

Next we hear that 755 & the Black Female have been seen. They are heading east from the Confluence.

Jeremy and I end up at Trash Can and find them from the hilltop. Well, they were headed east but ended up turning south. They don’t seem to know about the new bison carcass yet. The two of them bed in view at the top of the big fan.

Suddenly some elk come out of the trees. Then one elk bolts back into the trees with both wolves running after it. After some tense minutes, they both come back out and bed again near some downed logs.

Rick had been at Fisherman’s but was unable to find 911M which is not surprising given how high the grass it. Jeremy drives back west to help him. I can see the bison carcass from here. A bison funeral has begun which is always interesting to watch. I'm pretty sure that 755 and his new girlfriend will be on that carcass tomorrow, if not tonight.

As I drive back to Silver Gate I make a wish for the Lamar Canyon pack to find it, too.

Today I saw: 5 grizzly bears, bison, chipmunk, 3 coyote, sandhill cranes, elk, a meadowlark, pronghorn, 3 wolves (including 755M, the Black Female and 911M), and the spirit of Allison.

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