DAY FOUR - Saturday, October 10

TEN LITTLE LONELY PUPS

I start my day as usual on Trash Can hill. Susan and Reve are here, as well as Frank and Paul. Kathie joins us, too.

Frank and Paul saw a grizzly in the dark out in the R-V but I am too late; he is already gone. I do find a fox roaming around the area, probably the same one as yesterday. And some mostly bedded wolves. As the light improves, we count all 10 pups, scattered about the general area.

Two grays are bedded well to the east and one black is back on the old bison carcass over near Amethyst bench, gnawing on something there.

Then we see a gray with the black Ė wait, whoís that? Oh, it turns out to be a coyote! And just like that we all get a 3-dog day.

Bill finds a different grizzly on Amethyst, so I get a bear sighting today after all!

The black finally leaves the old carcass and wanders around the area, eventually aiming for the river corridor. When he gets close, a second black pup sees him and moves as if to join him near the river.

Then we see a group of people moving out there from the road (There are already several people in the corridor). The second pup stops and watches the people for a second or two, then does the right thing and turns around.

The first black, though, may not yet see the people. He continues to the river and walks along the high edge of the far bank. He clearly sees the people now. He does not seem afraid but naturally curious. This makes us nervous because too much ease around people spells bad news for the future of that pup.

This is exactly why we donít like to see people out there by the river. Their presence will eventually make a pup lose itís fear of people and set up a situation that could end badly for the pup.

Luckily, though, the pup doesnít stay very long. He soon returns to the western eroded area.

After this, Kathie and I decide to join Rick who has already headed west to try to find the rest of the Junctions.

I scope from Yellowstone River bridge, scanning the basalt cliff where I have so often seen wolves. I find a single bull elk trailing a single cow with a yearling calf.

I continue west and end up at Elk Creek, joining Rick and Kathie. But we see no sign of the adults so I continue to Lower Hellroaring. Still nothing. Not even elk. We are not likely to find wolves here if there are no elk.

Rick and I go on to Upper Hellroaring anyway and check all the areas we cannot see from Lower. Still nothing. Except the beautiful view!

On our way back east, Rick is flagged down at Curve by some visitors (Matt & Trevor). They saw a single black cross the road from north to south right here about 10 minutes ago. They also heard howling from the south, and felt it was more than one voice.

I scope from Curve with Matt & Trevor while Rick looks from Straightaway. The wolves continue to elude us. I wonder if the lone wolf they saw was perhaps the last in line, and that the rest of the Pack is up on Specimen, out of sight?

I move over to Boulder so I can easily scope both north and south. I still come up empty but enjoy talking with Matt & Trevor.

Eventually I go back to Lamar. I set up at Picnic where I find all 10 pups still in the R-V. There is no play among these wolves this morning, only a semi-sad search for scraps to nibble on. We have not witnessed a feeding in several days so I suspect they are all getting hungry.

Again I notice a dozen people lining the riverbank. I wish the people would not go so close.

I head back east for a shower and a break.

I chat with Laurie who says I shouldnít worry about the pups. She says itís very likely that the pups are being fed Ė probably at night by 907F or one of several attentive yearlings. She says she is sure the adults know where the pups are and have not abandoned them.

I check the weather report which confirms that colder weather is coming, and some overnight snow. Barb decides to head back to Bozeman, early.

I go out for the evening session though, since the snow is not supposed to start until after dark. I find it a bit windy on the hill, but itís still really warm at 64 degrees. Becky & Chloe decide to stay in Silver Gate tonight in case the dump of snow turns out worse than the 3 inches predicted. If that happens, we will deal with it together.

We watch all 10 pups again this evening, wandering about, kind of moping here and there. I tell Becky & Chloe what Laurie said and we all feel better.

One black pup approaches the riverbank. It may or may not be the same one as yesterday. Right now, all the black pups look alike. There are even more people lining the bank this evening. The wolves stays a bit upriver of them. He charges down the bank, lunging after a goose. Oh, poor thing. He misses it by a mile!

The pup stares at the people for a long time. He is clearly curious but thankfully, he keeps his distance. Looks like the wolf has more sense than all those people.

Taylor is particularly upset about it, but there is little that can be done. And in the end the 6 month old proves to be the wisest.

He finds something to eat, perhaps a cached morsel from some older carcass. He digs it up and carries it away from the bank, then sits down in the sage to eat it. While he is doing this, I notice a gray pup arrive from the east with something in its mouth. The gray has been successful, too!

Then a different black pup starts off to the west, right towards the old bison carcass. He scavenges on that pile of hide for a while.

The wind is picking up, bringing the next weather system. So I decide to head in. As I pass Footbridge pullout I notice it is completely empty of cars. Wow, itís been a while since Iíve seen that!

Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, a coyote, elk, a fox, pronghorn and 10 Junction wolves, all pups 6/4 and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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