DAY FOUR - Monday, July 25

PUPPY PLAY


Iím out at 5AM today. Itís dark and quiet and cool.

My day starts out nicely when a mule deer doe crosses the road ahead of me with twin fawns! Oh, they are so sweet!

Nothing seems to be happening in Lamar so I continue to Slough. Upon arrival here I see a substantial bison herd has taken up residence on Dougís hill so I stay in the lot and join Jeff.

We have beautiful howling to start the day. People love it.

The Junction wolves are in their new favorite place; the green slope behind the horizontal forest. The pups are out, playing on the big rock and also on the fallen log. Several yearlings are with them but other adults are resting near the Eastern trees.

For a while I watch one black pup playing by itself, tossing a stick in the air. Then his gray sibling joins in, grabs the stick and now they play chase. More of the pups are drawn by this activity and soon Jeff and I are chuckling as they run in circles around the rock. They pounce, roughhouse and chase each other all over the place. Ahh, to have such reserves of energy! As Laurie says ďainít life grandĒ when youíre a pup. Another black pup appears from below, wandering up to join in the fun. A black yearling arrives and delights us further as he engages the pups in play.

Now two black pups appear to the right of the zig-zag willows. They explore that area a while, then head back to the group.

Finally someone decides itís time to move and the wolves begin to head uphill behind the Diagonal forest. I count 4 adults and 6 pups as they cross the area between the two aspen groves. The two black pups that had been down in the meadow finally bring up the rear, giving me a full 8 pup count.

We are suddenly distracted when a big bull bison up on Daveís hill gets everyoneís attention by loudly bellowingÖand he is answered by a second bull west of the Slough bathroom. These two begin walking briskly towards each other and we are right smack between them!

We grab our gear and hustle back to the safety of our cars.

Itís touch and go for a bit, but once the bulls get close to each other, they seem to make some sort of truce and just pass each other by.

We settle down again, keeping an eye on the bulls but they seem calm now. We wonder if they were just toying with us? Maybe itís fun for them to scare us on purpose, just to see the humans run? We chuckle some more.

The wolves howl again and we can hear one single voice in response. Jeff finds a gray adult lower down on the rocky butte. Itís 994. As we watch the adults settle into new bedding spots I am able to identify both moms, 969 and 907, 994 and the two black yearlings.

Then things quiet down so I decide to make my exit. I say my goodbyes and head west.

My last sighting before the highway is in Mammoth Ė a sleek mother elk with her spotted calf behind her. I say farewell to Alison and drive on to Bozeman.

Today I saw: bison, mule deer (including twin fawns), elk, 13 wolves from the Junction Pack (including 969, 907, 994, two yearlings and all 8 pups) and the spirit of Allison.

Previous Chapter

Back to Main Page

Printer Friendly Index