2017 Summer Games Yellowstone National Park

Billy Lightpaw Middle weight contender for the Broad-jump – Summer Games Yellowstone National Park.

 

As long time readers of the BigShotsNow blog you know that every 4 years Yellowstone National Park holds the Summer Games in preparation for the Wildlife Olympics with entrants from around the globe. This year the games are being held in Yellowstone once again with venues at Gibbons Meadows, the Madison river, Hayden Valley, the LeHardy Rapids, the Lamar valley and the Blacktail Flats area.

This is always an incredible experience with visitors attending from all over the world. As usual most of the events are standing room only as tickets have been sold out for many of the big events for the last two years. However most events have roadside observation areas set up to accommodate the overflow crowds. Be prepared for Bear Jams, Wolf Jams, Buffalo Jams, Otter Jams and every other jam you can think of as the various animal contestants make their way to the different events, while those humans attending Yellowstone for the first time slam on their brakes, throw open all four of the cars doors where  applicable, and race out to greet and get their first up-close view of the different contestants, leaving their vehicles unattended and blocking the roadway. This impacts traffic bringing it to a standstill for hours. As this also usually results in the arrival of the First Responders stationed throughout the park to take care of the maimed and wounded that occur from way too close encounters with animals that are wild and have never heard of Disney, it takes awhile before the visitors cars can be impounded and hauled off to be shredded. Prepare for long waits depending on the popularity of the contestant being viewed.

This years games are truly spectacular with many new participants such as one of the real contenders in the light heavy-weight broad jump, Mr. Billy Lightpaw, a fantastic looking black bear here shown settling into his patented “Squat and Jump” starting position. Mr. Lightpaw also known as Billy the Bumper to his friends, currently holds the amateur broad jumping record of 32′ 8″ set last fall at the pre-hibernation games outside of Ottawa and is considered to be a gold medal frontrunner. Notice the coiled spring like action of tucking his head in and rolling back on his powerful haunches prior to his launch. Simply incredible. This is why he’s a crowd favorite. This event has plenty of accessibility due to the wide open Hayden valley floor. Binoculars are highly recommended.

The Madison river will have a new event this year, in fact it’s the first time this event has been offered in the summer games and it is likely to be a huge crowd pleaser. It is the “Calf Drop” and it’s a doozy. There are no front-runners in this event due to the fact that only first time Buffalo mothers can enter. Those due to drop their calves during  the week of August 11th through August 22nd are automatically entered. As mentioned before there are no front-runners yet but the likelihood of twins and even in the rarest of circumstances triggering an automatic Gold medal, triplets, might be expected. There is a lot of interest in this event by the press and Mothers for Public Breastfeeding or the MBP as it’s known, around the world.

Another fun event for the whole family is being held at LeHardy Rapids this year. It’s the “Otter Fish Off'” and this event is one that ESPN has scheduled for prime time coverage. As you know from previous games this one is fast paced and exciting. Upstream at the top of the rapids, barrels of trout averaging 26″ to 41″ inches long and weighing up to 96 lbs. each are released to streak down the rapids where the contestants wait at the bottom. The Otter that gets the biggest fish with the least amount of personal  injury is scored on tenacity, conviviality, ferocity and good manners. This is a high interest event for the entire family and you may want to arrive a few days early to get a good seat.

The “Wolf Run” or “Elk Calf Take Down” is an event that is best watched on TV or the various Jumbo-trons set up along the highway as much of the action is out of sight due to the rugged terrain through the ponds and small streams in the heavily brushed area that is Blacktail Flats. This year we’ll have extra coverage as the various networks are employing their new “Wolf Drone” cameras which are able to follow the wolves as they run down the elk calves and drag them out of the buck brush where they like to hide. Odds on favorite this year is of course the Blacktail Flats Pack for their intimate knowledge of the area.

Gibbon meadows will again be the site of the contestants housing area, media outlets, Torch lighting, and the entrance and closing parades. A Special “I Paid A Lot Because I’m Special” Pass is needed to access this area. If you don’t already have one you might as well forget about it. There’s none left. Sorry. Seems like everybody is Special.

The Lamar valley is again host to one of the all time favorite events, “Buffalo Herding”. This event has been a staple of the Summer Games for as long as I have been making them up. It is not someone herding the Buffalo but instead the Buffalo proudly showing off their skill at being a herd member, their ability to ‘herd’ as it  were. There are synchronized marching exhibitions, where the different herds show off their ability to walk together with all four legs synchronized, which if you’ve never seen it before is mesmerizing. There is a herd bull “Bellowing” event where the different herd bulls get on opposite sides of the valley and bellow at each other until one runs away in shame. There is a new event this year where the herds travel along the valley floor with the newborns running alongside ( the little orange ones ) to see how long they can run with their tongues out. And last but not least the contest that pits the different herds against each other to show who can make the trip up the Gibbons Narrows to the meadows above the slowest. The resulting length of the traffic tie up from the buffalo jam decides the winner. Last years numbers to beat are eleven and a half miles of stalled traffic and five hours to make the six-mile trek up from the bottom of the falls to the summer grazing. Everyone travels at Buffalo speed for this one.

These are just the highlights of the summer games, there’s plenty more so start packing and head on up to Yellowstone for another amazing year of the Summer Games at Yellowstone National Park. We’ll look for you there.

Notch Watches A Bush

If you’ve ever spent any time with a moose you may have noticed that they have the average I.Q. of an avocado. That’s not to say that they can’t carry on a conversation or do simple sums it means that as far as being an ungulates’ version of a genius is concerned they rank right up there with a two slice toaster.

Notch here is a prime example of moose intellect. His name was given to him by Mrs. Mom after a pack of coyotes tried to drag the young, not yet named Notch, into the bushes to have lunch with them. Notch was reluctant so they tried to convince him by leading him off by his right ear. By the time Mom got into it and reduced the pack by two and bent up the other three, Notch had the shredded ear that would be a constant reminder never to trust a bush again.

Now even though he stands nearly 7′ tall at the shoulder and weighs about the same as a Mazda Miata he still can not let a bush get by without giving it a thorough going over. Moose are slow to give up a tested theory, which in Notch’s case means “all bushes bad until proven otherwise” which is his first and guiding precept.

Why didn’t he learn through the years that bushes in general are harmless enough if unprovoked and go about his life? The only answer we can come up with and we must state at this point this is an untested theory, is the fact that those enormous, but giant antlers grow at an alarming rate and they possibly grow inward as well as outward. We know this seems unlikely but to date we have not seen hard evidence to contradict this possibility. This of course would cause a deflection of the brain pan and a pressing on the frontal lobe of his brain, compressing it and reducing it if not mashing it flat, which would interfere with some cognizant behavior. Which would cause the average observer to conclude that Notch was as dumb as a box of rocks.

Recently on a moose observation workshop and image making field trip we found Notch and to our surprise found him at hard at work staring at this bush. We came and went from this bush laden area several times during the day and found Notch still steadily at work assessing this bush. We saw that he had his work cut out for him as the entire meadow of many, many acres was entirely covered by bushes and this was the first one he had approached.

We are bringing you this news in case you are a frustrated moose watcher or photographer. One who, try as you might just can’t find a moose, developly challenged or not, to observe. Head on up to Long Draw on the way to Cameron pass and you should be able to spot Notch still at his task. I wouldn’t break any speed limits getting here. There’s lots of bushes left.

It’s The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that make each day special. Things like going to see friends. Or finding a quarter on the ground so you can pay for your Starbucks with the rest of the change in your pocket without breaking a twenty. Discovering a new good thing about somebody you really care for. Hearing that voice on the phone when you’re about to go into a major meltdown. How do they know you needed that. And just at that time too.

Everybody waits for that big huge something that’s going to make your life so much better. Winning the lotto. Finally getting that new car that makes you feel like you’ve made it. Whatever success that will make your life turn around and be magnificent. Those things might do for awhile, but they don’t last, they don’t have legs. They can’t be sustained.

You need the little things, those constants that make you smile or give you that warm and fuzzy just when you need it. That’s what makes life worthwhile. Small little joyful moments that keep you smiling long after they’re over. And sometimes it’s just finding that mouse in the grass when you least expected it.

Death Of A Willow

There had been a tightening of security around the Willow tree in the forest near a highly classified area close to our current location. We noticed the tree had been scrutinized by several agencies and even had some type of corrective or punitive surgery, some might say preemptive but we know punitive when we see it, performed in the recent past. Limbs had been hacked off willy-nilly. Untreated wounds were left to heal on their own. It had been rated a Def-con 3 type tree before but lately something had worried the inspectors about its possible interior health and it had been upgraded to Def-con 5 status. This is a severe rating normally only given to a tree thought to be in imminent risk of implosion and usually means corrective if not terminal action needs to be taken quickly.

Prior to any drastic action actually taking place in cases like this such as cutting it down to its nub, or yanking it out root and stem, an arborist is sent in to monitor the tree due to its poor condition. Massive limbs had been mysteriously tearing loose from their moorings high in the canopy of the tree and falling to the ground dozens of feet below. Obviously, havoc ensued amongst those standing or living below it. Each of these limbs weigh several hundred pounds or more and become deadly though unwieldy missiles as they plummet towards the earth at speeds reaching dozens of feet per second. Not quite light speed but fast enough to slam into something pretty darn hard. Several disturbing reports of small animals being terminated had been bandied about, especially the demise of one LlhasaDoodle named Eugene, when he was discovered under one of these errant limbs. Nothing but his four little feet remained sticking out on either side of the heavy branch, his bright little toenails the only sign of joy in that sad scene. The only good news was that due to his now current flatness he was able to be interred in one of those Priority Mail, small flat rate boxes that they give out free from the Post Office. The handy dimensions of the side loading box (8 11/16″ x 5 7/16″ x 1 3/4″) lessened the financial burden on the bereaved owners and made it easier to insert little Eugene with the minimum amount of bending him significantly and speed him on his final journey.

The arborist after being assigned to this tree, in this case an orange-shafted flicker, immediately began extensive boring into the heart of the tree to ascertain what kind and how much damage was really there. You can see the main shaft it had started directly above its right wing. Extensive work had been done by the flicker to drop the main shaft into the vein of misery that had developed near the center or heart of the tree. Unfortunately it was not good news for the tree. The news was bad, in  fact, real bad. A condition known as “TreeKablooey” which taken from the Latin means “that which is ripped asunder”, or to clarify further as it is known in lay terms ” Whoa, Ja see that, that sucker just all swolled up of a sudden and blew itself to begeezus.” This is normally a terminal situation for the affected tree.

The flicker in a vain attempt to save the tree was in the midst of performing a risky and rare procedure called a Tree Colostomy which is technical arborist talk to describe a surgical operation in which a piece of the vein of misery (the affected area of bad crap making the tree miserable) is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall of the tree’s trunk so as to bypass a damaged part of the mess affecting the tree. That would allow all the bad stuff causing the tree to blow its limbs off to drain harmless down the side of the trunk. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Not only did it not work it aggravated the problem by creating another route for the built up pressure to escape. Now it was every man, bird and squirrel for themselves. The Tree Removal Specialists or the Bring Out Your Dead team was placed on standby and notices were sent out. It looked like the end for a huge old willow that had steadfastly stood there was for decades.

One of the tenants of the tree alarmed by the frequent seismic disturbances that traveled up and down the tree’s trunk came down to find out what the problem was. When the arborist explained the situation to him his immediate response was “What about my nuts? How will I protect my nuts?” The flicker tried to explain that the tree was doomed and about to disintegrate, not to mention blow the hell up, and he should worry more about himself and any loved ones he had and less about his nuts. But as sound as this advice was it did little to soothe the frantic squirrel who takes his nuts very seriously. “Move your nuts now if you’re going to!” yelled the flicker and began a warning drumming on the tree to alert any other tenants who might have nuts or any other valuables to protect who hadn’t gotten the message yet that they should flee. There was a flurry of activity as the various tenants began scurrying about carrying off their valuables in their beaks or in a small rucksacks attached haphazardly to their persons. The squirrel having finally settled down was seen dragging his own nutsack, in which he had all of his important nuts, down the tree to safety. Lives were saved, but unfortunately not the tree. It wasn’t long before there was a huge explosion of sound as the main branch then the other lesser branches following closely behind, shattered and broke loose.

Then there was nothing left but a pile of broken branches, leaves, twigs, empty nut shells, displaced bark, and other debris to mark the site of a once great member of the forest. Even the mighty trunks or limbs most as big around as a Russian swimsuit model had fallen and shattered. It was well and truly a spectacular death of a Willow. Could this have been prevented? I don’t know, maybe. Did it happen at all? Uhmm maybe, probably not, but it could have. Stuff like that happens all the time. Do squirrels worry about their nuts that much? Yeah, I’d say they do. And with that we leave you with the warning “Do not your house build under the large Willow for it might just come crashing down and bust your crap up.” Just something to ponder.

 

She’s Back! And She’s Brought The Kids – Again

She’s back and she’s brought the kids, again! This is Edith Halfway Jones one of our resident Black bears here at *The Institute and if you are a long time reader of the blog you know that she is a regular here. It was exactly one year ago on May 12 that Edith showed up late for work and in danger of not only getting her pay docked but losing her position on the elite bear patrol that guards the inner perimeter of The Institute. Her excuse was three little bear cubs, obviously hers, that she had as a single mother over the winter.

Edith usually a demure, quiet non-partier had let her hair down or at least her fur, got hammered on a mixture of EverClear infused with pine needles, spent some time with a bear she had just met and the result was the triplets, Solenoid, Nodule and little Fleabert. For additional information about her return last year see this post.

http://www.bigshotsnow.com/bear-in-the-saddle/

We  thought she had left for good last Fall taking the cubs and heading into the far reaches of the back country outside the borders of The Institute and we wouldn’t see her again. So it was with no little surprise when she showed up this evening, back in the saddle again, with the triplets stuffing their faces with as much of this new green grass as they could choke down. She looks good. She’s sleek and shapely. The cubs look good too. They’re fat for just being out of the den. Edith seems a little more calm and adjusted to being a mom. Last year she micro-managed the cubs a lot with a fair amount of growling and some biting but this year she’s not concerned at all with their chasing around and heading off into the brush alone. A little chirp from her and they’re right back where she can lay a paw on them if she needs to. Motherhood seems to suit her.

As was mentioned earlier she has checked in on the 12th of April this year, almost a month early. Last year she came back on the 12th of May. It’s been warmer this winter and the kids probably got up early and after their playing squealing Climb on Mom games with their sharp little claws and head bumping for milk, she couldn’t stand to hear them yell “Let’s go out. I’m hungry.” one more time she gave up and came out early. Luckily the grass is ready and there’s lots of ground squirrels and voles around to eat too. The cubs are twice the size they were last fall.

There you have it. We got Spring. We got bears. There’s even a pair of Bluebirds catching bugs by flying softly into the window glass with a bump and grabbing a mouthful and nesting under the deck again. What more could you want.

Spring iz Sprung.

The Grass is Riz.

I wonder where the Flowers iz.

Hope  your place is on schedule and your bears are back. Happy Spring to you all.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

First Day of Spring

Oooooh Mann Does that feel good. I can’t believe I’ve been wearing this coat for like five whole months. We need a bigger clothing allowance if the honchos here at Yellowstone want us to look good when the season starts. I cannot wait to get this raggedy old thing off. It feels like my fleas have fleas.

It’s the first day of Spring and people are gonna be coming around looking at us and I feel like I just crawled out from under a bridge. Oh yes, right there. That spot has been making my teeth itch since the middle of February. Oh,k,k,k,k. I’m going to do this until June maybe even July.

The first day of spring is a time for celebration as it usually means good weather, new stuff to eat, time to look around for some of that winter kill. I am famished. Humans have it made. They can just take off their winter coats with a quick pull of a zipper and put on tank tops. Not us, I got like 12 more hours of scratching just to get the tangles out and then who knows how many days of squeezing through the oak brush to get my comb on. But I will look good. After all check me out. Even looking like this you know you want me.

Alright, the first day of Spring. I’m out of that smelly den.  After five months that’s enough to gag a man’s hinder. The suns out. I got the scratching tree first, looks like it might be a good year after all. Gotta run, well actually I gotta scratch and I need to concentrate here. Catch you later over on the flip side of Mt. Washburn. Where all the cool bears hang. I’ll be the one with the shiny new coat. Have a good one. Write if you get work.

P.S. Yeah I know I’m a little fuzzy in the picture but the guy taking the picture kept getting in my space so I had to back him up some. Apparently he was a little nervous after I ate his wrist watch and he didn’t hold the camera steady. And he was quite aways back and under his truck so I guess I can cut him some slack. You can decide how you want to handle it.