Hunting The Hunters

By , June 6, 2010 9:23 pm

Gallatin National Forest

On our last outing while in West Yellowstone, we decided to go see if we could find some bear in Gallatin National Forest.  There’s a section called The Narrows that’s on Hegben Lake that we’d been told was closed to visitors due to bear activity.  Apparently, there were some carcasses (of unspecified type and origin) that were on the beach and the bear were feeding on them.  When I’d gone on my morning outing a few days earlier, I’d gotten close to the closed area, but didn’t actually go as far as I could.  I figured that was our best shot at finding some bear.  Even if we didn’t see any bear, it would be a nice drive through the woods and would be close enough to town that we could call it quits in an hour or two if we got tired (we did).

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We ended up going north of Hegben lake to see if we could see any bear activity across the lake.  We figured that would be easiest and safest… bears can run fast, but they aren’t the quickest of swimmers. ;)  We saw nothing of bear or carcasses.  So, we headed back and took a bunch of Jeep trails towards the bear area. 

We stopped first at Horse Butte Overlook.  We saw evidence of bear (shed fur), but again there were no bear.  We did see a couple of Ranger looking people but they didn’t stop us or say anything, so we pretty much ignored them. 🙂

The view from Horse Butte was nice and we spotted a herd of bison in the distance (the picture above is taken from Horse Butte Overlook).  But, our quest for the day was BEAR!

We headed back down the butte and followed some more Jeep/forest roads towards the closed area.  The sign marking the road closure had been knocked over earlier and… um… we didn’t see it until we left.  So, we headed all the way through the closed area and all the way to the beach.  Unfortunately, I think this was another park service publicity stunt… no fanged or clawed furry critters were to be seen.  While it was little consolation to us, we did spot our first picah on the way out (sorry, no pictures, they’re skittish and FAST!). 

After that little drive, we headed back along Hegben Lake towards town, stopping at various little scenic overlooks.  At one point we had to drive through the herd of bison we’d spotted earlier from the butte.  A few of them did NOT look happy about it!  I don’t have any pictures, because I was driving and didn’t want to stop the Jeep.  I thought there was a real possibility of one of them getting unhappy enough to charge us.  They’re awesome creatures from afar, but they much more intimidating when staring at you from three feet away!

There were two other interesting things we spotted though…  Osprey and eagles.  There were several osprey, but one of them flew pretty close to us and he’d just been fishing!

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I don’t know how big that fish was, but I’d have been plenty happy with the portion size if it was on my plate.  One of the bald eagles must have thought the same thing and it started chasing the osprey!  I figured the osprey would just drop the fish and run, but he was quite set on keeping his own dinner.  Much to our surprise the osprey just kept climbing (with the fish) and managed to keep several flaps ahead of the eagle.   We’re not sure of the final outcome, as they were eventually too high for us to keep track of them.  My bet is on the osprey!

After that we headed back to town.  Rob and Lara had a flight to catch the next day and Dasy was going with them, as there were some family and friends back in northern Virginia she wanted to visit. 

Oh… we never did see a bear on our trip to Yellowstone. 🙁

Note: This was about a week ago… I’m playing “catch-up”.  I’m currently in Coram, MT, just outside Glacier National Park.  The Star is all fixed and working and I’m chilling here for a week.  I’ll be in or around the park for a couple of days when the weather is decent and will be working when it rains.  Judging by the forecast, I’ll be working quite a bit. :S  But… I saw a bear today! 😛

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