We knew trouble was coming before the grizzly did. This time it was resolved rather quickly. The way the story goes, a fisherman watched a bison wander into the Yellowstone River, walk back out and make a circle and wander back into the river again, where it promptly died. Perhaps it was wounded during the rut, or perhaps it was just time for it to die. A few days later a park ranger asked another fisherman if he’d seen the reported bison. He said, “No, but there’s a rock down there in the river I’ve never seen before.” That rock turned out to be the bison.
The cold river, acting as a refrigerator, kept the bison in good shape for about a week. After that nature began to reveal the bison, in this case to a grizzly, who has the ability to smell a rotting carcass from over two miles away.
I missed the first part of the story. They say once the grizzly found the bison carcass and jumped on it, it dislodged from the river bottom and began to float downstream. The grizzly rode it like a champion log roller, it was reported. Once it stopped, another grizzly came and tore a leg off and carried it away. The grizzly I saw, the one with the scarred face, was there in the early morning the next day by LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River.
When I arrived the grizzly was contentedly resting on top of the carcass. He’d awaken, tear some meat off and eat for a bit, then go back to slumber. Suddenly a blond-faced grizzly came down the steep back opposite those of us watching and came to the water’s edge. Scarface stood and made a step towards the blond faced bear and quickly chased it off.
After eating his fill, by late morning the grizzly dug out a small depression in the hillside and went to a sound sleep.
I took leave just past 11 o’clock in the morning when the bear did, and returned at three that afternoon and the grizzly was walking away up the river. For almost three hours there was nothing but ravens feeding. In the interest of full disclosure, there must have been four hundred of us on the boardwalk at LeHardy Rapids, waiting that evening. Finally, at 10 till six, the grizzly bear returned. He seemed so happy to be coming back to his good fortune.
For almost two hours we watched him feed.
He occasionally watched us, and smelt the air for any competitors to his prize.
At times he struggled mightily with the carcass, but no amount of labor seems too much for a grizzly.
Suddenly, at 7:54pm, the blond faced bear appeared again. That’s where our story will pick up again next week…