DAY SEVEN - Thursday, July 11

EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE

Itís back to normal today, with 46 as the 5AM temp.

My day starts at Hubbard Hill. Just as I was nearing the midpoint lot, Rick radioed from Dorothyís that a lone black is traveling between the river and the treeline. Once Iím set up I find the wolf, moving from east to west. Dorothy joins me and we watch this animal as it scent-trails.

The wolf continues at a good clip and starts up Amethyst bench. A visitor asks me ďwhat is he looking for?Ē I say ďI think he is looking for another wolfĒ.

Laurie & Dan arrive and I tell them I think the view will be better at the barn. So we all reconvene there. Dan and Laurie find the wolf, but heís gone out of sight for the moment, into the forest that surrounds Amethyst drainage.

We keep scoping, knowing the wolf will re-appear soon. Meanwhile, we find elk, pronghorn and the good old Junction sow with 2.

The wolf comes out at the top of the forest and suddenly we see a second wolf! Aha! Thatís who he was trailing! The second wolf is collared (996?).

The two interact a bit and from its submissive behavior, it looks to us like the un-collared one is a yearling. The two wolves begin climbing the steep hill above the bench. There are lots of game trails up there and the wolves are following one or the other. I joke about the moose Dan found yesterday, because I realize the area where he found it is just to the right of, and a little below the two wolves.

No sooner have I said that than Dan calls out ďMoose!Ē And sure enough, the beautiful bull-moose comes trotting out of the new growth forest, then begins to loping across the open bench. The wolves are above him but as soon as they see him they immediately take off running down the hill towards him.

Then they quickly put on the brakes. I swear we can hear the screech. ďUh, wait a minute nowĒ one of the wolves seems to say, ďisnít he a little big for us?Ē

We get a chuckle out of this, watching the two wolves sit on their haunches on the hill, gazing after the big ungulate. You can almost see their little wolf brains imagining fresh moose steaks and licking their chops.

The moose slows to a fast walk and enters the thick forest around the drainage, which both wolves had crossed through moments ago. I think he finds a happy, protected place in there because we never see him come back out.

After what seems like a bit of wishful thinking, the wolves seem to give up their dream and resume their climb.

We watch them a long time until they finally top out over skyline.

I think Laurie is pleased to have evidence that the Junction males are taking good care of 1109ís pups this year. As they should, of course.

We decide to try Hellroaring once again since itís so early.

As we go through Lamar Canyon we pass a lone bull bison who seems to be feeling particularly ornery today. Several times I see him toss his head quite belligerently at the slowly passing cars.

Luckily heís not on my side of the road, though, and I donít stop to take his photo, so I get past him just fine.

We see mule deer at Junction Butte pond

We scope from Hellroaring for about a half hour. Lizzie stops by and checks signals. She gets a Phantom signal but shakes her head, saying itís pretty weak. We hope that doesnít mean the pups have been moved!

We drive on to the Fire Trail lot. And weíre in luck! We see 7 Eight Mile wolves today - two adults plus all 5 pups.

At first I see a black adult come in from the east. As usual the pups run to the adult, mobbing him/her. After that feeding, the adult moves downhill, chased by one of the pups. The adult stops and lowers its head again, giving up a little more. I see lots of wagging tails.

Then the adult trots over to what we call home base, a thin triangular strip of green between two rows of thick conifers. The wolf beds and then an adult gray emerges from the point. Meanwhile, two of the black pups are roaming in a gully beneath the fallen log. Then they move back to home base, taking different paths.

We have a good half hour of action and are very pleased.

Laurie & Dan head back east and I decide to take the 6 mile Blacktail drive. Itís very nice, quiet and not too bumpy. But I donít see any animals other than mule deer and pronghorn.

The wildflowers are quite muted and although I usually find lots of bright paintbrush this time of year, I only find a few patches. The area conjures up memories of the time I saw 821F here.

Next I stop at Curve to watch some pronghorn and their fawns. I drive down the dirt road at Slough and find Dorothy. So we catch up a bit but donít find any wolves.

Back east we go, and see the same ornery bison at the east end of Lamar Canyon.

He looks like trouble so I decide to pull over and wait until he leaves the road for the meadow.

Itís hot again, reaching 77 and itís not yet 11:30. The sky is bright blue with typical Yellowstone puffy clouds. But I also notice the bugs are increasing.

I have nothing against fishermen, but in truth I like to see a river without humans in it. I like my river views shared only with wildlife. I decide to stop at Baronette. I find 7 goats including 1 kid.

We decide to go out tonight even though it looks a bit rainy ahead. But itís my last evening so, itís sort of tradition. We see mulies and then we find the moose with twins way down below in the creek, just past the owl meadow. They are TOO CUTE!

We scope from Dorothyís for a half hour but itís kinda buggy tonight. Dan finds a grizzly on one of the fingers of Specimen.

On our way back we find ourselves in a Hayden Valley-style bison jam. No one wants to miss a photo op, and both lanes blocked for about a mile. But it sure is a beautiful place.

Today I saw: 4 grizzly bears including 2 coys, coyotes, elk, 7 goats including a kid, 4 moose including the twin calves, pronghorn, 2 Junction wolves (996 and a black yearling) and the spirits of Allison & Richard.

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