At 6 am, Mike was out collecting firewood from the stack to start the days fire. Kiki, the older, chubby white Pomeranian was out with him. Kiki positioned herself off the back steps and started trying to raise the dead with her bark. With enough firewood in hand, Mike called Kiki to the house. Remarkably, she came when called. Mike noted that some critter was out there but thought a follow up investigation was better left until daylight.
Later that day, we received a call. “Looks like a grizzly walked down your driveway” the caller reported. We had received 1 ½ inches of snow during the night. “How’d they know it was a grizzly?” I wondered. Mike replied the prints probably had claws.
Wandering down the driveway with the dogs, we found the tracks in the fresh snow. Holy **** ! That’s a big bear. We followed the tracks up and down the driveway. The bear had lumbered by all 3 game cams. I pulled the SD cards from the cameras to look for pictures of a big bear. The Stealth camera did not have pictures of a bear despite the bear slowly walking by the camera. The Stealth camera’s record remained unbroken. (Game Cam 2 link) The Herter’s camera missed the bear. It had daylight photos of cars and deer but no nighttime photos. Time to change the batteries. Only the Cabela’s camera had a not very good picture of the big, fat, healthy grizzly.
This grizzly approached the driveway through the woods, lumbered onto the driveway and exited onto Fortine Creek Road before making its way back to the creek bottom. From the time stamp, by the time Kiki was reporting on it at volume the bear was probably on the road. Our neighbor reported that the bear had been leaving signs in the lower pastures that bordered the creek for several weeks. Seems we might have a couple more weeks of bears around the place.
Great pictures of game cameras are frequently a matter of luck. We have a “good enough” picture to confirm the type and relative size of the bear. Two of of the cameras completely missed the bear. Even the “best” camera had 1 poor picture but that time stamp sure caught our attention.
Update: A day later with the fresh snow and more reports of tracks, we again went hunting. This time we found 2 sets of tracks. One large set and a smaller set of tracks that sometimes were adjacent to the larger tracks and sometimes they overlapped the larger tracks. We followed the tracks into the woods to find a deposit from the smaller bear. Lots of hair in that deposit; the bears appear to be eating well. Again the bears had walked by 2 game cameras. Not 1 picture of either bear on any camera. There are multiple reports of bear tracks in the neighborhood. The bears appear to be making a large loose loop around the Trego school.