DAY THREE - Thursday, May 13

2 PACK, 3 DOG DAY


This morning I head straight to Slough, setting up in the lower lot with Susan & Reve, Frank, Paul and Carole.

The weather is partly cloudy and a normal 28, which makes for very pleasant scoping conditions. We climb the hill and I find I can hear the roar of Slough Creek from here! Frank reports that he has already seen a black adult walk above the den and that a tiny black pup followed it up there!

For a change, I witness 907F and the alpha female getting along quite well. I see several babysitters today, four black and two gray. My puppy count rises to five, two blacks and three grays.

Early on we have a howl session that suggests more wolves are bedded unseen in the area. Sure enough, several of them appear near the eastern trees having a nice rally. The bed down afterwards, in various places.

907 is lying on the den porch and we watch several pups climb over her to nurse. Susan feels she may have seen a third black and a fourth gray. I hope sheís right!

A few coyotes begin to howl on the slope behind us. I try to find them but never do.

A black adult comes up from below with food, triggering quite a frenzy. 907 gets some, which makes us happy. A little later, a different black appears near the Crescent rock. This wolf is alternately chasing and being chased by a single feisty elk cow. Once that drama is over, the wolf continues to the den, bringing food.

A bit later, all of the wolves except 907 start running past the Western Trees. They continue over the parrot rock pass towards the rocky knob. 907 travels west from the den porch but stops and sits on her haunches when she realizes that whatever is going on, it doesnít involve food.

At first itís hard to piece together what is happening. It looks like the alpha female is chasing a gray and the other wolves are simply following her. Perhaps this gray is a subordinate female who did something to upset the alpha?

The running wolves eventually return to the den meadow.

Around 10AM, we notice a black yearling moving deliberately to the east, paralleling the line of willows that leads down to the creek. We learn later that he is headed towards yet another bison right at the creek.

Another black, ever-dilligent 229F, comes up from below and feeds her family.

Rick suggests I follow him to Elk Creek so I do. On the way there I see a red-tailed hawk flying overhead, a herd of bison with newborn calves at Longs, and several mulies at Yellowstone Picnic.

When we get to the pullout, I learn that Taylor found wolves from the Junction off-shoot pack, led by 1154F and one of my favorite former Junctions: the big, beautiful Gray Male. They are feeding on a carcass in Yanceyís Hole. At least 10 had been visible earlier but there are three left.

I see him, collared black 1273M and an uncollared gray.

They are tugging at it; whatever it was seems to be about gone by now. After about 15 minutes, the Gray Male leaves, tail high, heading up the hill to the west, trotting across the sage top and disappearing into the trees. I watch him do two raised legs urinations. I joke to Rick that he did those for me so that I see for myself his alpha status.

Next to leave is 1273M and finally the uncollared gray. They both take pretty much the same route as the alpha male which offers us a nice but all too brief view of them.

I ask Rick if he thinks now that the gray who was chased away from the den area by the alpha female and other Junctions may have been a wolf from this group? He says, yes, it could be, and perhaps for whatever reason, that wolf was just not welcome. But we'll probably never know.

The day has turned gorgeous and warm, at 62 degrees.

Itís nearly 12:30 which is time for my nap. But on the way back I see John K and Beth, so I stop to chat with them. They have just arrived for the summer season. They had been holed up in Vermont during Covid last year. I am glad to have him back!

After my break, I head back into the Park. Itís still a really gorgeous, warm day. I see both foxes and a moose on the way down.

I get to Slough around 6:30 and find a black yearling bedded near the easternmost western tree. He lifts his head a couple of times but not much else happens.

I decide to drive down the road a bit to check out the bison carcass that drew the black yearling this morning. Iím glad I did because as I come around a bend I find a dozen cars stopped, with people on a hilltop above the creek. I see the wolf they are watching right away, an uncollared black, which may or may not be the same one I saw this morning. The wolf is walking along the near bank. I see the carcass at the creekís edge, caught in some deadfall.

I am happy to say the crowd is completely respectful of the wolf. Most stay near their cars. The hilltop offers a better overall view even though itís even farther from the wolf.

I stay on the hilltop, watching him roam around here and there. This wolf is quite dark except for a streak of lighter color on his tail.

He is aware of the people, but not bothered. He starts to move east, then turns and goes back to the river and disappears along the bank moving upstream. I donít see him feed, but I may have missed that.

A coyote appears behind us on the campground road, drawing photographers.

I hear chorus frogs singing quite loudly. Boy, itís been a while since I heard that sound!

Once the wolf disappears, I head back to my previous spot and quickly notice a single black yearling walking across the den meadow. The wolf trots past the sage den and onto the Lion Meadow trail, disappearing about way down. I expect it to emerge in the flats but never find it again. Instead I see a bald eagle perched in a tree there.

I pack up and head east, thinking my evening is over. But as I come down the eastern side of Hubbard Hill I see lots of people at Trash Can pulled over, intently looking north. I join them and lift my binoculars.

A different black wolf has just crossed the road from the south. I watch it climb the hill, paralleling the exclosure fence, sniffing all the way. The wolf makes a right turn at the top of the fence. Aha! Itís headed for the old bison carcass up there. Smart wolf.

I think to myself that the Junction pack is spread out all over Lamar, seeking food to bring back to their new pups.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, a bald eagle, elk, 2 foxes, 18 wolves (15 Junctions including the alpha female, 907F, 1229F, 7 others and 5 pups plus 3 wolves from 1154ís group including Gray Male, second gray and 1273M) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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