Part Two: Wyoming and Montana Road Trip-Grizzly, Bison and Moose

Grizzly, Bison and Moose…IT’S NOT A PETTING ZOO PEOPLE!!

He is not a Grizzly, but this is how a Bison looked after a bunch of European tourists bailed out of their vehicle and ran to within 15 yards of him where they began taking selfies–I kid you not!! Janet and I were on the opposite side of the highway (The Bear Tooth Highway north of Yellowstone) photographing him with a telephoto lens. Occasional snowflakes were darting about (the real ones) when these snowflakes began posing for their photos.

A Very Agitated Tetonka

They seemed to think this giant beast was as docile as a cow and they remained otherwise oblivious to the signs of agitation he was exhibiting. Thankfully, before he could decide if he wanted to gore a few of them, they loaded up and left. This was how he appeared shortly afterward. Anyone who knows wildlife can look at this critter and tell he was definitely at the limit of his patience.


Then there was the big grizzly out in the Shoshone River Valley west of Cody, Wyoming. He was on the opposite side of the river, about a hundred yards off the highway, guarding the remains of an apparent kill. Several people had stopped to take photos, and everyone remained on the highway near their vehicles–at least until the crowd grew. Then, as you might have figured, the 3% crowd showed up. That’s the ones lacking common sense. Two women and a man left the roadside and walked down closer to the river with their cell phone cameras. They approached to within fifty yards of the big Griz as many of us on the highway could only mutter “Oh $h%t!”

Big Grizzly, Shoshone River Valley

As you can see from my photo, he became focused on them. Grizzlies don’t look it, but they are agile as cats and incredibly fast. He could have sprinted across the river and reached them in as little as three or four seconds. Thankfully, they got their photos and returned to the shoulder of the road without incident. A few minutes later the bear left his kill and came down to the river, about 80 yards away, where he got a drink of water.

Griz Getting a Drink From the Shoshone River


The three most aggressive animals in this part of the country (and the ones responsible for the majority of attacks on humans) are the Grizzly, the Moose, and the Bison. Because they have often become accustomed to the presence of humans they do not run away and often appear deceptively at ease, which leads tourists to believe they are docile and relatively harmless. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and any of the three can kill a human in seconds.

We caught this bull moose crossing a sage flat early one morning near Moose Junction (go figure) in the Grand Teton National Park. Thankfully, none of the 3% crowd were around.

Moose, Teton National Park

Again, my 400mm telephoto lens brings him in close, while Janet and I remain nearly a hundred yards away.

I will leave you with the shot below, as a means of explaining how we get these photographs. During our travels, we ran into more than a few tourists who said, “We’ve seen very few animals. Where are you seeing them?” A few questions usually reveal they have risen a little after sunrise, had a nice breakfast at the restaurant and arrived at the park sometime around mid-morning–the time when most critters are bedding down for the day. As the photo below reveals and I explained to the tourists, “It’s not a matter of ‘where,’ but a matter of ‘when.’ You must get up before dawn if you want to see more wildlife.”  By the way: My next blog will announce the publication of my next book: Rawlins, No Longer Young, a historical western.

Tetons Before Sunrise

Road Trip Jackson Hole and Rawlins Research

Research for the Next Rawlins Novel

Cowboy at Jackson Hole Airport

Let me explain: With the first Rawlins novel now only days from being published (I will announce it soon with a special blog post.), it is time to begin research for the next book. I will begin writing “Rawlins, Into Montana” sometime this winter. Heaven only knows when I will finish it, but the next couple of my blog posts will relate primarily to the trip my wife and I took out to Wyoming and Montana the last week of September. Although the research was important, we spent most of our time taking photos and traveling through some of the most beautiful country in the world–the Wyoming and Montana Rocky Mountains. After flying into Jackson Hole, we rented a 4-Runner and began our trip in the Grand Teton National Park.

Besides the grand vistas, wildlife is one of the primary attractions for both the Teton and Yellowstone Parks, and we saw more than our share, including a rare sighting of wolves in the Teton Park. The only downside was I didn’t have my camera ready when the wolves appeared, and they disappeared in a flash. We did get photos of practically everything else we saw and will show some of those pictures here in the next few blog posts.

As you view the photos, especially those of the larger animals you may think me foolhardy because they seem to be taken from very close, but not to worry. I use a telephoto lens. These are wild animals and have no doubt, Teton and Yellowstone are not petting zoos.

Mule Deer, Gros Ventre Valley

As a writer, I try to imagine how this land and its wildlife must have appeared to Rawlins and his little family as they traveled through these mountain valleys over a hundred and fifty years ago. It’s awe-inspiring even in this day and age, especially when you see things with big teeth or long horns. Next time, if I am not announcing the publication of the first Rawlins novel, I will post more photos, including some of a grizzly on the Shoshone River.

Big Bear near Moose Junction, Teton National Park                                                                                 

Jenny Lake

Photos of Goldfinch Sunflower Seed Heist

Thieves Caught In The Act!

I was out back shooting some butterfly photos this morning when I noticed a great deal of suspicious activity over in the garden. Something was in the sunflowers. Easing that way with the camera, I found two American Goldfinches literally stuffing themselves with sunflower seeds. Their bellies were swollen, and their cheeks were loaded with the loot.


Caught in the Act!

The Thief’s Surprise is Evident as He Realizes he is on Camera.

Goldfinch Thief Passing the Loot to an Accomplice

Camera Surveillance Catches Thief looking back at the Crime Scene