DAY FIVE - Thursday, April 27

WHERE IS THE PACK?

Itís a warmish 37 as I head out. Another rough morning for me and my legs.

As I approach Hitching Post, I see Billís car parked at an angle that tells me he is looking for bears through his window-mount.

I pull up beside him and set up my own scope. A grizzly is on the carcass again today; Bill thinks itís the same bear. We both wonder if any of the Shrimp Lake wolves might come to it.

I continue to Slough, and just like yesterday, I arrive at the perfect time.

Frank and Paul alert me that 907 has just come out of the natal den. I find her walking downslope past the sage den. She sticks her nose inside then quickly continues to the spring meadow. This area is rapidly losing its snow.

She has a nice long drink here, then moves upslope to the eastern trees and angles back to her den.

It seems strange to the group of regular wolf watchers, that weíve seen no other pack members in the area for several days. The last time any other wolf was seen was Sunday, when Frank saw the alpha male.

Of course, the others could be visiting at night, but in all the Aprils that Iíve been lucky enough to watch this den, whatís normal is to see various pack members coming and going with food. So, I decide to head west to try to find them.

I stop to say hi to Ray & Kathy at the big ski lot. They are hoping to get photos of the new black bear cubs born in the den here.

My next stop is at Elk Creek where I scope for a while, finding only a few elk and lots of bison. I continue to Lower Hellroaring, where I find a whole lot of elk in scattered groups on the slopes Cottonwood to Little Buffalo.

Taylor stops by and confirms no-one has seen any Junctions today, other than 907 at Slough.

So, I go back there, arriving just after 907ís second appearance. But then 1276 comes out. She remains visible only briefly, eating snow, then heads back to her pups.

Frank says 907 howled a lot when she was out. We think she is calling her pack, saying ďCome feed me!Ē

The wind kicks up, announcing a weather change. Soon, snow-flakes begin to fall, but when they turn to rain we head for our cars.

I drive back east and manage to outrun the weather for a while, finding the sun again by the time I reach Footbridge. Laurie & Dan are here, talking to Bill. You can see the bison carcass and the bear from the east side of this lot, too.

Bill says a collared gray wolf was seen feeding on it earlier this morning.

The wolf is no longer in view, speculating on which wolf it might have been. 1228F is a collared gray, but we think she denned somewhere near Round Prairie, and it would be pretty early for her to travel this far for food by herself. Just like the Junction moms, she would only risk being away from them for maybe 15 minutes, and this trip (and back) would be much longer than that.

The wolf could have been a Junction, or even from a different pack altogether.

There is a dark grizzly feeding on it at the moment. Suddenly that bear lifts its head and bolts off the carcass galloping west, like Godzilla is after him.

Ahh, ďGodzillaĒ appears in the form of a much larger grizzly. It rushes to the carcass from the south, above the slope. His tracks are plainly visible in the snow, lit by the noon-day sun. When he reaches the carcass he turns it sideways.

I hear that when the carcass was first found, the head was uphill. This morning it was downhill and now itís sideways!

The Godzilla bear is lighter than the first bear, more brown than black. I scan to the west and find the first bear. He is now walking back east, a safe distance below the carcass, having regained his dignity. It looks like he may stay in the area and wait out the other bear.

A coyote trots by between them, but wisely keeps on going.

I watch both bears until the rainy weather catches up to me. Soon I am being pelted by wind and rain, so I head back to my car.

Once we are safely back in Silver Gate, Laurie finds out that the collared gray on the bison carcass was a Junction wolf, 1339M.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison (and calves), a coyote, elk, 2 wolves (Junctions 907F and 1276F) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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