Day 17, May 27
It was the last day of my private three day tour. Since my client was still focused solely on wolves, we had to get out to the Lamar early, and were prepared to stay there all day if necessary. Luckily, it didn’t come to that…
We arrived at Hitching Post close to 6am, and joined the large group of wolf watchers who were studying the steep hills to the west. There were no wolves in sight, but the radio signal was strong. It was a waiting game.
Eventually, a couple flashes of movement were spotted through the trees, and some members of the Lamar Canyon Pack were seen heading west. Eventually, a mass exodus of cars followed suit, driving past the Confluence and into the valley proper. After a prolonged wait, the wolves finally came into full view on the hills above the road. All six members of the pack were accounted for.
They continued west, so I decided it would be best to drive further down the road. A good decision, as the wolves trotted along and eventually down toward us. They went by on a low hill, and we had a hard time choosing which individuals to photograph. The alpha male, Twin, took the lead, with alpha female 926F following close behind.
The wolves disappeared behind some hills, and before we knew it, three of them had crossed the road further west. The rest remained on the north hill, reluctant to cross. They chose to howl for a short while instead.
As we leapfrogged west, we could see the three wolves—both alphas and a black yearling—paused in the middle of the valley floor. They were digging up a lot of dirt, going after something. We found a safe parking spot, and after receiving permission from Unit 1 to join the rest of the photographers on the valley floor, set up shop for more fun photos.
It ended up being my best wolf encounter in three years, and more importantly, fulfilled the very difficult goal set forth by my client. It’s pretty amazing we made this happen in only three days, but he came away very satisfied, so I was happy and excited for him.
The rest of the day was a blur, but I recall the remaining highlights consisting of a cow moose bedded down about 30 yards from my deck in Silver Gate (where we had lunch), and a short session with Rosie and her cubs—my first time photographing her this trip, believe it or not—before I took my client to Bozeman. On the way home, I saw the black sow with cinnamon COY above Wrecker just before dark. I don’t think they’ve been seen in several days.
I now have two days “off,” guiding visiting family before starting up the first of three week-long group tours. It’s going to be a busy few weeks ahead.